Don't Let Roadblocks Slow You Down
despite years of road construction.
Seven and a half years. That is how long construction in the area around my shop, Sallas Auto Repair, lasted. It was challenging to work through it, to say the least. When construction began on the Grandview Triangle in Kansas City, Mo., where our shop is located, I had just been in my building two and a half years.
There was no way to predict the impact the construction project would have on traffic flow to my business. But despite the roadblocks (literally), my shop is proof that you can survive road construction if you're willing to offer good customer service and keep your customers well informed.
During the seven-and-a-half-year period, it was extremely difficult to drive to our shop. On top of that, there was a two-month period when the road to Sallas Auto Repair was completely shut down. Detour signs were confusing and not helpful at all.
So, we came up with a plan. Working diligently, we got the word out about road construction around our shop with news about alternative routes. Our monthly newsletter was a vital communication tool in informing customers of the construction challenges.
We even offered to pick up and drop off clients. This gesture went over huge with our customers, especially our older ones. About 20 percent of our clients are in their 70s; they don't like to get out much, especially when there's construction. So by offering to pick up their cars, take them to the shop for servicing and then deliver the cars back to their home, we were able to keep their business. What could have resulted in lost profits and more importantly, lost relationships, was saved as a result of going out of our way to provide exceptional service.
In addition to the newsletter, we also used an automated calling service to notify our customers of the construction, along with e-mail blasts. But I think what had the greatest impact on our survival and success was that we maintained great communication with our customers. This was key to our survival, especially when you consider that two other shops in the area closed as a result of the construction.
Often, we would have customers call and want to get their cars serviced. When we told them about road construction around our shop, we could sense in their voices that they weren't wild about that so we would immediately offer to pick up their cars for servicing. Customers appreciated this a lot, and while some of them didn't take us up on the service, they did appreciate the thought and effort behind what we're doing. My advice: listen to your customers.
So, take heart, fellow shop owner! If you're facing road construction in and around your shop, there are many things you can do to run your shop as smoothly and productively as possible despite the roadblocks. But be prepared to work hard. Delivering good customer service and communicating well with your customers takes time, effort and commitment. But the end result is that we were able to grow our business and gain new customers. And unlike those two other shops that closed, we were able to keep the "Open" for business light on.
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