How Do I Maintain Thee as a Customer? Let Me Count the Ways ...Posted 1/16/2004
By Brad Petersen
What? Another business management editorial? Haven't we already been bombarded with seminars and "how to" classes? Technicians turned owners know how to fix cars, but how do we maintain customer relationships? The management courses will always be an important part of learning and honing the skills to run a shop. Now, how do we maintain invaluable customer relationships and manage them? Enter "CRM."
I'd like to address this important topic strictly from a shop owner's perspective. CRM is a term shop owners should learn and utilize. CRM stands for customer relationship management. It is a way to stay in touch with your customers and help promote sales, marketing and customer service. Companies spend a lot of money to acquire new customers. Poor service is the fastest way to lose them. Shop owners and managers need to develop a strategy to learn more about customers' needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger relationships with them. After all, good customer relationships are at the heart of business success. Maintaining good customer relationships will set you apart from the competition - it's not really just about fixing cars anymore.
Now that we know what CRM stands for, let's see how we can make it work for our shops, and what it will take to get it started:
We can dedicate a full-time employee to do follow-up calls after the service, stay on top of the customers' maintenance schedules and send out a postcard or letter when scheduled services are due, and hope it doesn't end up lost in the junk mail.
Starting to sound like a major expense, isn't it? Now, let's take a look at an alternative that won't require a W-2 form at the end of the year, will work diligently 24 hours a day, and never calls in sick: CRM software.
CRM software has the capability of searching through your shop management software database, sending out manufacturer's service recommendations in a timely manner, based on annual mileage. This can be an automated process and needs no input from the shop owners and managers. Service reminders can be sent electronically by e-mail or can be sent by postal mail for those customers without a PC. After an invoice is posted, a follow-up "thank you" is generated and sent, along with a customer satisfaction survey for those who want to comment on the quality of the facility and services provided. Many electronically sent service reminders also have the capability to allow the consumer to make an online appointment. The digital age is not just for the younger generations either - many senior citizens are computer literate and stay in touch with distant family members via the Internet.
Keeping and maintaining your customers has become a little easier, thanks to the digital "employee" that can now reside in your shop's computer. At Petersen Automotive, we use a program that automatically distributes service reminders and promotions, allows customers to schedule appointments online, and other functions that used to require hours of our time. I seriously can't imagine doing business without it, and I worry less now than I ever did before about how to keep customers happy over the long term.
Time to plan for the future, and stay connected!
AutoInc. Web Site |
ASA Web Site |
A Look at Industry Legislative Issues for 2004 |
NACE 2003 Recap |
Top 10 Automotive Web sites |
Mechanical Industry Issues and Trends |
Collision Industry Issues and Trends |
Salting the Oats |
Guest Editorial |
Tech to Tech |
Tech Tips |
Around ASA |
Shop Profile |
Net Worth |
Stat Corner |
Copyright (c) 1996-2011. Automotive Service Association®. All rights reserved.