Doing Business on Purpose
Learn what distinguishes those shops that are intentional in their approach to running a business versus those that aren’t.
Your customers’ buying habits have changed since the recession. They realize they do not need to have everything they want or everything that their neighbors have; they can make do with less. They scrutinize every recommendation you make because they are uncertain of the future.
Additionally, they want to feel important; that they matter to their service provider. They want a shop that will truly listen and give them a customized solution. Finally, they realize they have a choice and they exercise that choice until they find a shop that will give them exactly what they want.
The most successful shops going forward are not only fixing their customer’s vehicle right the first time, their focus is on engaging and building a relationship with their customer that is truly concentrated on exceeding their needs and wants. To do that, there must be a customer engagement plan.
While coaching shop owners all over the country, I find that their degree of planning, mostly, falls into one of three categories:
The only planning a “Bad” shop seems to have is their hours of operation. They let activity level and who is doing the work dictate what and how they do things. The quality of work they deliver to the customer is inconsistent, and there is little to no attention paid to their relationship with their customer. The Bad shop’s focus is getting to the end of the day.
The “Good” shop has basic procedures documenting how they do things. There is a standard set and regardless of the activity level, or who does the work, the level of quality is consistent. They take great pride at their skill of repairing and maintaining their customers’ vehicles. The customer experience is inconsistent dependent upon who the customer is dealing with. The Good shop’s focus is on quality repairs.
The “Great” shop has the same type of procedures documenting how they do things. They also have a standard set for the quality of work they will produce. The Great shop goes a step further and engages their customer in a way that makes their customer feel great about doing business with them. Their focus is on their customer.
With no customer engagement plan in place, the first two types of shops leave the perception of their business to chance based on the busyness of the shop and the mood of their employees, making for an inconsistent customer experience. The Great shop knows that everything in business matters and leaves nothing to chance. They realize that to have a great experience, they have to first create that experience in their mind and then create it physically. It all starts with having a customer engagement plan that creates a friendly, caring and helpful atmosphere where you can do business on purpose.
Vision – Your plan must start with a vision. You begin with the end in mind. A vision is nothing more than a destination that everyone strives to achieve. Your vision should include what you will do, how you will do it and the environment you will create. It also gives you a ruler to measure both your current performance and your improvements.
Attitude – Attitude is the foundation for success in all things; it is your outlook on life. We all have attitude that is both positive and negative. A customer is much more likely to respond when you engage him or her with a positive attitude. Either circumstance or choice determines your attitude.
When your circumstance determines your attitude, external forces over which you have no control influence the success of your day. If “things” are going your way, you are in a good mood and tend to be very approachable. If “things” are not going your way, you are in a bad mood and tend to be difficult. When you choose to take control of your attitude, you bring a consistent positive attitude to all of your interactions. People want to be around you. You take control of your attitude by feeding your positive side.
Belief – Your belief system is the next factor affecting your ability to succeed. Very few people are consciously aware of their beliefs that play a role in the workplace. If you want your customers to believe you during the selling process, you must believe in yourself, your product and your company.
When you have consciously internalized your belief system, you will wholeheartedly believe there is not another shop that can take care of your customer the way you will. Why is this important? When you add a positive mental attitude to a strong belief system, you end up with confidence! A sale, in its purest form, is nothing more than transference of feelings. If you exude confidence, you will transfer confidence to your customer.
Tone – Tone is the fourth factor you need to be successful. It is the demeanor or “air” you create when you deal with your customer. Are you there to sell work or help your customer? Your customer will clearly hear either focus. Statistically, when you communicate on the phone, you convey only 14 percent of your message with the words you use. You convey an amazing 84 percent of your message by how you say it! This is why your tone is so important to your success. If you are rushed, angry, negative, distracted or unsure, you will not create an environment where your customer feels valued, cared for, and important. If you are not conscious of the tone you use with your customer, your success will fall short.
Engagement – Engagement is the fifth factor to your success. Your ability to tune out any distractions, shut off your “cruise control,” and actively listen will engage your customer and make them feel valued and cared about. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. You successfully engage your customer when you understand their wants, needs and goals for their vehicle as well as their current situation in life. Your level of engagement will take you and your customer away from performing a transaction and into building a relationship.
Clarity – Clarity is the last of the internal success factors. Your ability to communicate these subjects to your staff so that they not only understand, but can “see” your plan and buy into it is critical. Once you have employee buy-in, you can now build the rest of your business around truly connecting with and wowing your customer.
Taking the time to create the right environment consistently when interacting with your customers will show that you care about what they want and are there to help. They will feel valued and important. Your customers will know, like and trust you, and allow you to do business in a friendly way, building relationships and creating raving fans.
If you would like a daily routine to build and maintain your positive attitude, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your information and “Attitude Routine” in the subject line.
Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of management articles contributed to AutoInc. by Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. To learn more about AMI, its courses and instructors, visit www.AMIonline.org. AMI administers the distinguished Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) program.
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