Wednesday, 21 November 2012 16:52

How Marketing Can Help Customer-Pay Sales

Shop owners and managers learned how to market to self-paying consumers in a presentation led by Steve Trapp and Robert Rick at SEMA 2012 in Las Vegas.

Steve Trapp, Program Manager at DuPont Performance Services and DuPont Performance Alliance, and Robert Rick, President of RR Custom Solutions Training and Consulting, presented “Marketing to Consumers - Supporting Customer-Pay Sales Efforts.”

Current statistics show that 35-40% of customers are asking repairers to write a customer-paid estimate, with a historical 50% closing ratio on these estimates. Improving sales skills for these more price-sensitive customers is key.


This SCRS Repairer Driven Education course reviewed the advisory sales process and how it uniquely applies to this segment of prospective customers. “Customer pay is going up,” said Rick. “People are freaked out about turning in an insurance claim because consumers are afraid of being dropped or having their premiums go up.”

Because most shop owners don’t have a marketing degree, Trapp and Rick presented a mini “Marketing 101” class to teach shop owners and managers the basics of marketing techniques. In layman terms, marketing is getting someone to contact you or bringing someone to your door.

“Marketing happens when someone comes into your shop or when you pick up the phone,” said Rick. “How much time and money is spent getting people in the door? When your phone rings, how many people in your repair shop look at the ringing phone like it’s the devil?” Rick said he wishes he could change the sound of a ringing phone into dollar signs because the person on the other end of the phone could be your next $2,000 customer.

Trapp added, “They are already in the door, so why not close them?” Depending on your shop size, increasing closing sales ratio by 5% on customer self-pays could increase annual repair center sales by $200,000.

“Getting work to the door is most repairers biggest need,” said Rick. “At the end of the day, we are here to bring in more customers.”

Estimators don’t want to see customer pays because they are comfortable with DRPs, said Rick. But, with customer-pays, “your market opportunities to close are limitless,” he said.

Trapp suggested that shops call their sales advisors ‘service advisors or customer care advisors.’

“Earn your customers’ trust by giving good advice,” Trapp said.

“Get rid of the E-word,” Rick agreed. “Stop using the ‘estimator’ word.”

Shops need to remember that the key needs of a customer are convenience, empathy, needing a trusted adviser and superior service. The average consumer reports an insurance claim every 10 years. They don’t know the claims process. Your job is to help them get through it.

It’s important to do what you can to get your customers to remember you. Create a story so your customers remember you. Build a relationship. One way to do that is to always thank your customers. Don’t send an email—that’s too impersonal and they get deleted. A mailed handwritten note is best.

What should your marketing budget be? For new shops just starting out, spending 10% of your budget on marketing is best. For shops that are five years or less into the business and growing, spending 5% of your budget on marketing is good. And for shops that are more mature and have been in business longer than five years, only 3% of your budget is needed for marketing.

Social media is a whole other subject, but Trapp and Rick briefly spoke on website presence. Your website is your virtual lobby that is open 24 hours a day. It manages your virtual branding. Basically, a website should provide directions, answer frequently asked questions, provide status updates and include an amateur video to boost website content and interest. The website content should be relevant and current. Don’t let it become stale. Remove outdated information.

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