Thursday, 03 January 2019 22:49

ASA Hosts RepairPal’s Jill Trotta for Webinar on Transparency and Trust

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On Dec. 19, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) hosted a webinar titled “Transparency & Trust: A Guide to Getting Customers and Keeping Them,” presented by Jill Trotta, vice president of industry advocacy and sales for RepairPal.


Trotta, who boasts 25 years of industry experience, said the goal of the webinar was to share how RepairPal gains insight into consumer behavior and needs from its 5 million monthly website visitors as well as how shops can apply this information.


ASA Vice President Tony Molla hosted the webinar. He welcomed attendees and introduced Trotta, who defined her key objectives as providing information on how to overcome price-sensitive customers, delivering data about price transparency and consumer behavior, and teaching about tools to work with the modern auto care consumer.


“RepairPal spends a significant amount of time trying to understand consumers who have changed more in the past five years than in previous decades,” Trotta explained. “Today’s consumer is tech savvy and uses mobile devices. They are better-educated and research prices online. They also value instant gratification.”


When consumers were asked in 2017 if they felt they were charged a fair price for their last automotive repair, only 42 percent said yes, while 58 percent answered in the negative. This was a 6 percent increase in dissatisfaction from 52 percent in 2014.


Trotta pointed out, “The majority didn’t feel like they got a fair deal.”


Of the consumers who believed they were charged a fair price, 31 percent determined this based on comparisons to other shops; 31 percent reported a gut feeling; and 28 percent based their opinion on online research. When those who were unsatisfied with the price explained the reason, 36 percent reported that the issue was not resolved; 29 percent did online research; 18 percent compared to other shops; and 17 percent felt they received poor value.


While 85 percent of consumers check prices, only 45 percent check them before authorizing the repair.


Based on research of the 40 percent that check prices after authorization, Trotta shared, “For every 26 unhappy consumers, only one will complain directly to you. Most won’t call you and tell you, but they will call your competition, tell their friends or post reviews. Very few will actually call and tell you. We all know that retaining your customers is critical to the future success of your business.”


An alarming trend Trotta noted is that 63 percent of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency, but automotive repair is one of the single biggest necessary expenses for today’s consumer and can throw their budget into a tailspin. This is why consumers are so often focused on price.


According to Trotta, “Shop ads and websites that focus on price deliver 6--7 times better results than those that don’t. Some phrases that pay include: “straightforward and transparent pricing”; “upfront pricing”; “We never overcharge”; and “Happy to provide a good estimate.”


“When you ask people if they want price or quality, they want quality, but they ask about price because they have no idea what else to ask. Unfortunately, explaining that a shop performs proper repairs doesn’t attract traffic to the website; you need to talk about pricing. At our core, RepairPal is focused on quality repairs and safe repairs for consumers, but the shops in our network have a proven track record that they are focused on the same. RepairPal is really focused on pricing in order to attract traffic to the website.”


Explaining how to create a transparent experience for customers, Trotta said, “If a customer leaves the shop confused about what they experienced or unsure if they received high-quailty work or a fair deal, they are unlikely to return.


“Do these three things: 1. Many shops focus so much on the initial conversion that they forget to check in with the consumer as they are leaving the shop. 2. Making sure the consumer is fully satisfied confirms understanding of what was done, why it was done and what any next steps might be. 3. Small gestures like leaving the car clean and tidy make a big difference.”


Transparent customer communication should follow three steps: receive complaint and perform diagnosis, determine the cause and recommend the corrections.


“Breaking out items in a way that the consumer can understand exactly what they’re paying for is important,” Trotta stressed.


After reviewing what she’d covered, Trotta reiterated the importance of mentioning price, noted that 46 percent of consumers will pay more for a two-year warranty as opposed to a one-year warranty and emphasized the importance of your value shining, because 30 percent of consumers will call more than one shop.


Trotta explained that transforming price into value starts with presenting the diagnosis as a product.


“Prices must be clearly attached to meaningful services and outcomes. Provide a clear and concise broken-down final RO with no ‘unexplainable’ charges. You may not be the cheapest shop, but you can offer the highest value,” she said.


Trotta explained how RepairPal’s Fair Price Estimator works and how it benefits shops by building trust with consumers.


“Removing questions from the customers’ mind is what’s going to retain customers,” she said. “We offer friendly customer explanations, and we provide a third-party voice that mirrors your own. Calling other shops is a way to get a second opinion. When you direct consumers to RepairPal, we become the second opinion. Hopefully, the consumer goes to our site and experiments with our estimator instead of calling another shop.


“Shops in our network are the top 20--25 percent of shops in the industry, and our estimator is built to reflect that. When compared to other estimators [in the] market, we generally have higher prices and we give more information. We are for fair pricing, not cheap pricing. We give the whole picture and promote the right repair.”


To inspire customer loyalty, shops should communicate, be transparent, do a great job and ensure a smooth exit from the repair experience. They should also help the consumer evaluate their reputation and price, coordinate the consumer’s online and off-line experience and help them solve their problem as quickly as possible without sacrificing price, trust or convenience. It’s also beneficial to help the consumer understand pricing and repair decisions and make sense of any pricing differences they may encounter when doing research.


Trotta noted, “Explain what you need and why! People like to do business with other people.”


She continued to talk about creating a transparent experience before providing information on RepairPal’s estimator widget that shops can place on their website. She also talked about the benefits of offering a two-year warranty.


“This is a very inexpensive thing you can do for your customers. Most consumers see it as more valuable to have a longer warranty than a nationwide warranty,” she said.


The webinar concluded with Trotta sharing RepairPal’s values and describing its involvement with the industry.


Before ending with a question-and-answer session, Trotta observed, “We want to provide consumers with the best shops. We want to work together, constantly solicit feedback and improve our processes.”


For more information about RepairPal, visit repairpal.com. For more information about ASA, visit asashop.org.

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