How often have you gotten out of a dentist’s chair, mouth in pain, drool going down the side of your mouth, maybe some blood? And then the receptionist at the front cheerily says they’ll see you in six months?
“And what do you say? ‘Sure,’” said Bryan Stasch, vice president of product and content development at the Automotive Training Institute. “And you set the appointment. How many of you would like to do that for your business?”
He was speaking to shop owners and service advisors at the recent Midwest Auto Care Alliance’s Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo in March in Kansas City.
So when a customer is leaving your shop, Stasch recommended booking the customer’s next oil change or other maintenance services on the spot. Give them an appointment card. Ask them what their preferred method of contact is so that you can remind them a week ahead of time.
“Mrs. Customer, we have pre-scheduled a tentative oil change appointment for you on August 3. I will give you a call the week before and confirm which day during that week works best for you,” Clint White, a service advisor coach and shop consultant with CWI, said as an example of the messaging to your customer.
And if they say no or that they can’t think that far ahead, ask them if you can contact them in a few days to set up that appointment. After all, they can do it with a dentist. Why not with their repair shop?
“It is effective,” Stasch emphasized. “And what if it only worked for half of your customers. And only half of them showed up? Exactly, you still got more cars than you would have if you had not, or even more frequent [visits].”
If you don’t see the same customer after nine or even 12 months, you are likely to consider that customer gone to a competitor. So getting them back in your doors in a certain window is important, he added.
Something else medical professionals use is imagery. When you have a cavity, the dentist will show you a picture of your teeth and where the cavity is. Then they’ll explain what the procedure is. If you go to the doctor and he finds a tumour, he shows you imaging.
“That doctor’s job [of] utilizing the images that he has obtained through MRI and CAT scans will influence your decisions,” White said during his session Delivery: Reselling the Value of the Repair.
“And what if it only worked for half of your customers. And only half of them showed up? Exactly, you still got more cars than you would have if you had not, or even more frequent [visits].”
Another strategy that shops can take from dentists is getting other vehicles in the family in the shop. Most people will see their whole family visiting the same dentist. The dentist will ask if there is anyone else in your family who could use a check-up.
“For every customer, how many cars do they have in the family fleet?” can be a simple question, Stasch said.
Before, it was easier when there would be multiple keys on a ring. Stasch would offer to take the vehicle’s key off the customer’s ring — but he would also be looking for other car keys. Then he’d see if that car was in their management system.
If not? “What do you think one of my questions was when they left on that visit? Exactly,” he said.
Of course, nowadays, many vehicles come with key fobs. So it may be trickier to figure out what other cars are in the household. This leads Stasch to his second strategy: Wedding rings.
“What that tells you is there’s possibly another car in that family fleet,” he said.