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Tuesday, 25 November 2008 14:28

Franklin -- How To Capture More Jobs When Estimates Alone Don’t Work

Written by Tom Franklin
With a tight economy at hand, shops are looking for ways to bring in more business and to increase profits. Many shop owners I’ve spoken to recently told me they still have people coming in for estimates. It’s just that they’re not capturing enough jobs.

    A while back I visited a shop owner who told me all the marketing he had to do was accomplished with just three postcards. He sent one immediately after writing an estimate that didn’t turn into a job. If that didn’t bring the vehicle owner back, he sent the second postcard in three days. And if that didn’t bring the vehicle in, he sent the third card in about a week.
    Naturally each card would offer a bit more and sweeten the deal. He said these cards brought vehicles in and kept his shop busy for years.
    I only a had a chance to look at the cards for a few minutes, but the following messages are fairly close to what he said on his cards:

The First Card (Sent immediately)
Thank you for coming to Anytown Auto Body for an estimate to repair damage on your vehicle. We hope that you found our staff to be highly professional and helpful. The California Board of Auto Repair (BAR) recently reported that up to 40% of the repairs quoted by many shops as needed on customer’s vehicles in California, were fraudulent! We enjoy a 10-year flawless reputation for delivering the highest quality of completely honest paint and body work.
    You can be fully confident that the computerized estimate given to you by our shop is 100% accurate, that you or your insurance company has not been over-charged, and that you will receive your car back completely in pre-accident condition if you choose to have us repair it. Give us a chance to prove to you that our shop stands for integrity, quality, and professionalism. Call to arrange an appointment to have us perform the repairs quoted on your estimate: (555) 555-1212.
    Thank you,
    Owner, Anytown Auto Body

The Second Card (Sent 3 Days Later)
We appreciate your choosing Anytown Auto Body for an estimate of damages on your vehicle. Naturally we would be greatly appreciative if you brought your vehicle in for repairs. If you lack rental car coverage, we will provide a rental car for up to five days for you at no charge, and if you need pick-up and delivery to your home or office, or you need reasonably priced towing, we will also provide that at no charge.
    And of course, we can handle all claims forms for you and can greatly speed up the process of getting your repaired vehicle back to you quickly. Please come back to have your vehicle repaired. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
    Thank you,
    Owner, Anytown Auto Body


The Third Card (Sent A Week Later)
It has been more than a week since we wrote an estimate of damages to your vehicle here at Anytown Auto Body. If you haven’t taken your vehicle to a repair facility yet, we would like to offer some additional incentives for you to bring your vehicle to us.
    In addition to a free rental car and towing mentioned previously, we will provide a complete detail on your vehicle and if there are some unrelated minor dents, dings or scratches on your vehicle we may be able to repair them at no additional cost. Please come back for a new price and time quote. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
    Thank you,
    Owner, Anytown Auto Body

Many shops use a canned follow-up letter available in their estimating or management systems. I wondered why this postcard system seemed to get better results. Perhaps one reason is the fact that the recipient of the postcard doesn’t have to open an envelope to see the message.
    This may seem like a trivial reason, but I’ve provided several shops with a variety of postcard marketing programs and overall they do better than letters that have to be opened. People receive so much junk mail, that opening yet another impersonal letter may be just too much to bother with. It’s almost impossible to avoid at least glancing at the message on a postcard, and if it looks interesting enough it only takes a minute or so to read it.
    I have heard a few prospective users of the system object to the offers of free services. Of course, these are just sample cards and can be modified in any way desired. But statistically there is an enormous cost in getting a new prospective customer to come into any business establishment for the first time. That’s why mailings and calls to prior customers beat most advertising to the general public.
    But in making offers in these postcards, a shop owner has to weigh the cost of getting yet someone new to come to the shop for an estimate compared to making these generous offers to someone who has already come for an estimate, to come back for a repair.

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