“The shop owner is typically the lowest paid person in the shop, and that’s wrong," Brower said. "We work from the bottom up to make sure you achieve your goals, starting by determining how much gross profit you need. Then, we work backwards to build you a road map.
“Have the right mindset, a positive mindset," Brower encouraged. "You’re an essential business for a reason. Sanitation and cleanliness are the new norm and aren’t going away; people are always going to expect this. Remain proactive. Stay on top of things as they change. Make this a daily cadence in your business.
"We will get through it. This too shall pass, and when the outbreak is over, you’ll need to hit the ground running.”
Rather than cutting marketing, Brower advised shops to adjust marketing, because there is now greater accessibility to a captive audience, essential workers still need reliable transportation to get to work and non-essential workers fear losing transportation for high-priority errands, medical emergencies and the ability to commute to work once they are re-employed.
“Adjust your marketing, don’t cut it,” he urged. “We need to stand out in times like this. Build your brand, and make it stronger.”
Exploring ways to adjust marketing, Brower suggested offering pick-up and drop-off services and goodwill discounts. Notify customers the shop is open, and educate them about the precautions being taken to keep them safe.
Shops should determine how many more cars they need to offset the car count deficit, and then reach out to customers through warm calling, email marketing, text messaging and social media. Brower also discussed how using call forwarding during the hours the shop is closed can help obtain a couple extra cars each week.
“Your messaging should be since and supportive---not pushy or promotional,” Brower noted. “Let people know you’re there but not desperate. Don’t try to force them to come in. People still need their cars. Make sure you’re doing the things you tell them you’ll do to sanitize their vehicles and keep them safe.”
When it comes to warm calls, shops should prioritize the most unsafe items first, then the items that will become unsafe over time, ending with repairs that keep the vehicle healthy but aren’t unsafe.
“This helps you refill the pipeline and survive. You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take,” Brower said.
Text messaging can be used for appointments and other reminders because it’s quick, engaging, affordable and opt-in so customers are agreeing to this form of communication. In fact, most customers prefer text messages, though email can also be an effective marketing tool.
According to Brower, effective emails only include useful content, are easy to skim and are concise, though the return rate on texts is higher.
Using social media to disseminate pictures and videos of the shop, processes and community outreach creates goodwill.
“This is how to build your brand in a time like this,” Brower said.
To schedule a phone consultation with ATI, including a free business health check, visit autotraining.net/register.