Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2002   by Gordon Cameron and Ken Keis

Marketing: a Continuous Process

The term "marketing" is generally used to describe the actions your business takes to encourage people to become customers. For example, if you place a coupon ad in the newspaper and someone shows up,...

The term “marketing” is generally used to describe the actions your business takes to encourage people to become customers. For example, if you place a coupon ad in the newspaper and someone shows up, coupon in hand, you could rightly say your “marketing” effort worked.

What’s the sense of spending money on advertising if other aspects of your total marketing process prevent you from maximizing potential profits?

This article seeks to expand your understanding of marketing, beyond its first stage-advertising-to see the total marketing picture.

Does marketing end when you answer the phone and book a service appointment with the customer? In a limited interpretation, that phone call is the result of a marketing effort, but if the purpose of marketing is to obtain and keep customers, that phone call is simply the first step in your total marketing strategy.

Are the staff members who answer the phone polite and knowledgeable?

Do they project a phone presence that supports your goals?

Do they have the necessary skills and ability to make an appointment?

Do they know what questions to ask, to get the information necessary to do the service work properly?

Let’s examine the appointment process as it relates to marketing. The way you treat the customers on the telephone is a significant segment of their total service experience.

If the appointment process is to be an effective part of your marketing plan, it deserves your finest efforts. When managed appropriately, the process will confirm to customers that they were smart to do business with you; that feeling will give them the confidence to keep coming back.

But what happens when the customers show up expecting the same courteous treatment they received on the phone, only to find the in-person service experience less than professional?

We as consultants have observed a general low level of support for the staff person booking the appointment with the customer. For instance, many repair shops are still using a paper deskpad to record information about the vehicle. This can result in the following problems.

Staff’s handwriting is often illegible.

The written information is usually sketchy at best, and most of the time, incomplete. Names, phone numbers, items to be serviced, drop-off time, pickup time, and method of payment are only a few of the essential items required to ensure that the service advisor is on top of the situation when the customer arrives.

A poorly written appointment on a paper deskpad does not inspire customer confidence.

A deskpad does not allow you to plan your work flow, which can undermine your bottom line in three ways:

1. If your work-flow planning is poor, efficiency and productivity suffer.

2. Lack of planning can contribute to errors in the way the vehicle is repaired.

3. Completion of the repair by the agreed time may be in jeopardy.

Customer dissatisfaction is likely to increase, which will definitely cost the service business money. Why? Because the primitive process that is being used to make and track the appointments is not working effectively.

Marketing is part of your total business plan. When you think about your marketing, don’t limit your planning efforts to advertising. To maximize your profitability, consider all aspects of the way you do business.

About Results Consulting Group Inc.

Results is an international full-service business consulting company with special expertise and experience in the automotive industry. In the past five years alone, Results’ team of automotive professionals has trained more than 20,000 automotive personnel-and logged thousands of in-store consulting-project days, from independent operations to national and international chains. Senior Partners Ken Keis and Gordon Cameron have over 45 years of combined business-ownership experience and 15,000 hours of automotive consulting experience. The Results Performance Institute provides a full range of information products and services designed to increase your business and individual performance, including personal one-on-one coaching, in-store consulting, on- and off-site educational sessions, tele-conferences, videos, and audio solutions. Results also provides appointment-scheduling and dispatch software solutions-ServiceMate-specifically designed for the independent maintenance and repair sector. Results’ copyrighted service marketing and operational system, “0% Customer Defection & 100% Customer Retention,” has a proven track record of increasing service gross by 10-20% and beyond-in less than six months. We have found significant improvement in appointment productivity-usually 20% to 30%-through the use of simple technology solutions. Please contact us for our proven list of options. For further information about Results and its automotive and business solutions, call us Toll Free at 1-866-852-4347, email, or visit our Website at

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