Thursday, 17 November 2016 23:37

How to Sell and Market Your Shop in Today's Competitive World

Written by Victoria Antonelli


(L to R) Steve Schoolcraft, Phoenix Solutions; Steve Trapp, Axalta; Ryan Taylor, Body Shop Booster.


During the 2016 SEMA Show, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) held a variety of informative seminars that covered all corners of the ever-changing collision industry.

Steve Trapp of Axalta, Steve Schoolcraft of Phoenix Solutions Group, and Ryan Taylor of Body Shop Booster came together to deliver a presentation on how to sell and market effectively in a competitive marketplace.


Trapp started off his portion of the presentation by sharing his tried and true sales strategies. He really drove home the importance of “exceptional customer service” with the following guidelines:


* confirm appointments via agreed time and method
* provide props while they are in waiting room: posters, lobby video, digital photo frame, brag book, detail menu, etc.
* greet customer by name at check-in
* offer refreshments
* encourage them to call at any point if they're not satisfied – willing to grade you as a “10.”
* have file built, key tag created, and be ready for them
* get rental header information filled in
* proactively provide status updates via agreed time and method
* review repair with customer
* ask for referral, then thank them
* stay in touch with them up to 3 years via handwritten letter or postcard


“Customers are much more likely to open marketing materials which comes in the mail verses something sent via email, as we all know,” said Trapp. “Sending a handwritten thank you letter or postcard in the mail will really help you stand out.”


Most of the above tasks are taken care of by the shop's customer service representative. However, every member of your body shop's team plays a role in keeping customers happy, which ultimately increases sales. Here are some pointers from Trapp provided for estimators:


* continue to build rapport – people buy from people
* gather personal repair needs
* ask customer what they would like you to use to “repair for them”
* explain in common sense terms
* package sell
* review packages and ramifications before hitting “print”
* follow up when promised (persistence can increase closing by 30-45 percent)


“You should be holding weekly meetings with your staff” to go over marketing and selling methods, repair expectations, weekly goals, and any questions or concerns, he added.


Trapp also stated that repairers in the future should look to become vehicle appearance centers to enhance their customer’s vehicles value, in the sales process, offering “package” options to appeal to customers, such as detail packages such as:


* 30 minutes- hand wash and interior tidy up to make vehicles feel like new
* 60 minutes- deep clean / prepare to sell or trade or improve appearance or to install a uniform coat of wax (90 days later)
* overnight – repair most ding and dents and deep clean for a lease turn in or improve resale
* counter display should urge customers to stop in two to three times a year, schedule appointments online


He then bridged from delivering exceptional service and a solid sales culture raising closing ratios to the next presenter describing the importance of using periodic market research (every six months) to validate marketing investment decisions.


Once he took the stage, Steve Schoolcraft, president of Phoenix Solutions Group, started his presentation by describing a trip to the body shop as something that falls under a “distress purchase,” because it has no degree of purchase motivation.


According to Schoolcraft, these six factors send customers to the shop:

* accident frequency
* insurance claims filed
* seasonal elements
* weather events
* changes in buying behaviors (customer pay vs. insurance)
* economic considerations (repair vs. cash out)


And overall market distribution is affected by:

* direct repair relationships
* business referral sources
* consumer referrals
* repeat customers


Schoolcraft also expressed the importance of repeat customers, and that most shops don't have nearly as many as they think (according to a study done by Vision 2020 in February 2006 and July 2015):

* most shops with a tenure of 10 plus years have a less than 2 percent repeat rate
* 3 percent repeat rate equates to doubling a shop's sales volume every 5.2 years


“The question that needs to be asked by every shop is, to what extent do my customers currently depend on other people and prior experience vs. corporate influenced marketing (such as claims, dealerships) when making their purchase decisions?” He continued, “how can we get customers to depend more on other people and prior experience in the future?” Schoolcraft believes that consumer decision making is shifting.


“Today, the new consumer is a smarter, skeptical person who is becoming more and more immune to corporate marketing hype,” he said. “The shift is placing pressure on the insurance company's marketing budgets to maintain marketing share.”


As money continues to pour into marketing efforts, there is pressure to reduce operational costs, Schoolcraft added.


The reason that customers rely more heavily on referrals, especially when it comes to “distress purchases” is because of a behavioral concept called “Observer Participancy,” he explained.


“People seek out similar individuals that have had 'like' experiences and want to discuss them,” Schoolcraft said. “It is human nature to want to share a negative experience with your group of friends; misery loves company.”


He then concluded his portion by summing up what body shops need to know when trying to score referrals and repeat customers:

* memory is a powerful marketing tool for body shops
* an exceptional repair experience is required
* continuous outreach throughout the entire life cycle (5 plus years) impacts growth
* both technology and traditional marketing methods are required to tap into this opportunity


Next, Ryan Taylor, creator of the app Body Shop Booster, discussed his 19 years of industry experience in Canada, and how his app can help enhance both the customer and shop's experience.


The app guides customers on how to capture accurate photos of the damage on their vehicle and send it to an estimator without actually visiting a shop. The built-in GPS  and marketing algorithms help to market & influence the customer to choose your shop.


“The average customer is willing to travel three to five miles for an estimate, and 14 miles for a repair,” said Taylor.


According to bodyshopbooster.com:

* 62 percent have damage right now, but feel that stopping at a shop for an estimate would be an inconvenience
* 83 percent research shops online
* 74 percent choose a body shop based on convenience


Customers will take two photos of the damage, after being prompted with an example photo, in order to get an accurate depiction of the height, width and angle.


“It shows damage depth and transfer that is hard to see with a straight on shot,” said Taylor.


The application also collects the customer's name, phone number, email address, zip code, city and state, and referral source, he explained.


“You can qualify the customer better if you know where they live and how they found out about your shop,” Taylor added.


Don't have a smart phone? The email function allows users to access the application on their desktop or other device.


“We don't want any customers left behind, so we made a cloud app that works on smart phones, tablets, iPads, Kindles, desktops, and laptops,” he explained.


Finally, Trapp reviewed the top 5 marketing ideas being successfully used today per segment to help grow top line sales without having to invest in expensive brand development campaigns.


For more information on selling and marketing in a competitive marketplace, contact the speakers:

Steve Trapp- steven.r.trapp@axaltacs.com
Steve Schoolcraft- steve.schoolcraft@phoenixsolutionsgroup.net
Ryan Taylor- ryan@bodyshopbooster.com

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