Consumer behaviour around what they expect from their local automotive repair shop has changed. Your shop needs to keep pace, urged an industry expert.
Customers are looking for ease of doing business with you online. Ben Johnson, director of product management at Mitchell 1, cited a survey from MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers that showed 95 per cent of customers research online before they buy anything. And when it comes to what they want most from their local automotive repair shop, two-thirds said it’s the ability to book an appointment online.
That’s not a surprise to him. Johnson told attendees of AAPEX 2023 that he does the same when making restaurant reservations or booking medical appointments.
“The younger drivers, the younger customers — everybody has a phone now. Nobody uses that as a phone,” he said. “It’s messaging and social and this and that. Phone calls are actually down. So this is the way these folks like to be communicated with.”
Johnson grew up in a time when people found his shop through the Yellow Pages. They called him and they had a face-to-face conversation. Both sides valued that. Young people don’t care for that as much anymore.
“But what hasn’t changed is the expectation that when a car is brought into your shop that they’re either going to pick it up the same day they dropped it off or, at worse, the next day,” Johnson said during his presentation, How Shops Build Trust and Transparency with their Customers. “That’s a promise that the aftermarket has kept for years of years. It’s amazing, actually, when you think of the supply chain issues that can happen that we’ve been able to do that.”
And if 95 per cent of people are searching online, they’ll eventually click on a website. Will yours be appealing to potential customers?
“And so we want to make sure that our website is as clean and spruced up as the front of your shop when that customer finally drives up there,” Johnson pointed out.
“Think about the guy or gal that’s never seen your shop and make sure there’s information up there that will help them make the right decision about picking your shop.
That means if you have an online booking tool, that your calendar is refreshed as slots are booked. It would be frustrating and drive away customers if they make a booking only to be told that time slot wasn’t actually available. Or they get a phone call a few minutes later from the shop’s service advisor saying their team can’t actually accommodate the customer at that time.
“It’s kind of a first negative impression,” Johnson said. “Communication is key. Take care of them. Let them have their online appointments. That’s how they want to deal with you. If you don’t do these things, it’s giving you a much bigger chance of them looking around until they find somebody that does.”