Auto Service World
News   July 20, 2023   by Alysa Beech

From the Magazine: Shifting demographic gears

How to best serve both your Millennial and Baby Boomer clientele

The automotive industry is changing at an unprecedented pace. With the rise of e-commerce and large retail chains, smaller shops are facing increasing challenges in recent years.

Your business must continue to both evolve and adapt to meet the needs of younger generations, while also continuing to cater to their existing older clientele to stay relevant. That’s no secret.

Two of the largest and most influential generations in the marketplace today are Millennials and Baby Boomers. While there are certainly overl­aps in the way these generations approach servicing their vehicle, there are also significant differences in terms of their attitudes and service needs.

Starting at the very beginning of the repair journey — before the client even walks through your door — it’s important to understand how and where both Boomers and Millennials are searching and landing on your business.

Boomers will most likely land at your doorstep after a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend. Once arrived, they will begin the service process by immediately wanting to speak directly with a service advisor. They place a high value on connection. When your service advisor catches a Boomer on the phone or in person, they should make sure to settle in and take the time to build rapport and create a relationship.

Millennials are in direct contrast and are much more likely to begin their service journey by looking at sources outside your business. If a Millennial knows they require work on their vehicle they will often first begin their search on a local Reddit group asking the community for reliable service centers near them or searching Instagram for recommendations from others.

They may then turn to YouTube to learn more about the potential work required so they are armed with the necessary information prior to establishing first contact with your business. Finally, they will be reading reviews of all the recommended facilities before picking up the phone and calling your shop.

When they inevitably do reach out to you, make sure to validate and affirm the research they have performed. This will build instant trust and will even result in higher net promoter scores. As a business, it’s important that you audit the information that exists on these third-party sites, participate in the relevant communities and invest in SEO so that your webpage tops search results.

Once you have established the initial connection and both the Boomers and Millennials have arrived at your shop, you need to ensure loyalty to keep them coming back for more.

In general, Boomers are more inclined to brand loyalty then Millennials. Once a relationship has been formed and personal connections are made, Boomers will need a compelling reason to jump ship.

The same cannot be said for Millennials. In order to maintain their business, you must first understand their values and prioritize creating a personalized experience. Take the time to understand what they want out of their vehicle first and realize that some of the traditional upselling techniques are going to be very off putting for most Millennials. Be authentic and genuine when it comes to recommending service.

The significant differences between Millennials and Boomers as consumers can impact the way businesses market and sell their products. Shops that understand the differences between these generations and tailor their strategies accordingly may be better positioned to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.

Alysa Beech is a business coach with Beech Consulting.

This article originally appeared in the June issue of CARS.

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