By Colby Horton
"Superior marketing is and always has been analysis, then action. It is the way to customer satisfaction and increasing your profit. Marketing is everything you do to bring a customer to the point of sale," said Hank Nunn, who presented the seminar "Maximizing Your Marketing Effectiveness" to NACE attendees Friday afternoon. And by the end of the presentation, his key message is that marketing for today's collision repair center is more important than ever.
Nunn explained that collision repair facilities should always be marketing, using multiple tools focused on multiple targets. Marketing shouldn't just be done when the shop's business is slow or during seasonal opportunities. And a body shop has three basic targets for their marketing efforts: consumers, insurance referrals and corporate accounts.
Nunn placed consumers into three categories, but stresses that all are important to a shop's marketing efforts. "Shoppers" are consumers who shop around for a good deal. They are looking for trust, empathy, direction, quality and price. On the other hand, "repeat customers" have a previous relationship with the body shop and were happy with their first experience. They are looking for reinforced trust, quality and direction. And finally, "customer referrals" have no relationship with the body shop, but expect a certain level of service based on the referral they received.
When it comes to insurance referrals, Nunn said, "Many insurance agents will tell you they don't refer customers to body shops. But they do." Nunn said insurance agents expect a hassle-free experience for the customer, a relationship with the body shop and, of course, to make the agent look good in the eyes of the consumer.
The last target group shops should focus on is corporate accounts, which include such entities as dealerships, fleets and car clubs.
Nunn then explained various "marketing weapons" that shops should deploy, including Yellow Page and newspaper ads, brochures, presentation binders and Web sites.
"When used correctly, brochures can position your company against your competitors, communicate the benefits of your product or service, and motivate prospects to take action," Nunn said. But he cautions shops on making sure the brochure is appealing and professional. "Brochures usually have only a matter of seconds to capture someone's interest. So make sure yours has a readable, eye-catching design and focuses on what the customers will receive rather than what you do."
Nunn also suggested making documentation part of a shop's marketing efforts. Such documentation includes Customer Satisfaction Indexing and Cycle Time reports.
"CSI can assist you in marketing to your current customers by helping to ensure a continuous stream of referral business," said Nunn. "It is vital that word-of-mouth work for you, not against you."
Nunn says the most powerful selling tool in a shop's "marketing arsenal" is a presentation binder. The two-pocket folders should be customized depending on the audience the shop is targeting. "If you are dealing with a customer that has come to your shop for an estimate and is leaving without deciding to use your shop, you might use the presentation binder," said Nunn. "In the binder, you might put a copy of the estimate, any warranty information, a testimonial letter and a brochure."
He also discussed the advantages of marketing through direct mail and radio. But in regard to television, Nunn said that there are opportunities for shops to market on broadcast television, as well as cable television.
"Many body shop owners believe TV advertising is beyond their means," he said. "But advertising on local stations, and especially on cable television, can be affordable. TV advertising can deliver more customers than any other type of ad campaign."
Nunn continued by discussing the importance of a shop Web site.
"You must develop a clearly defined goal for your Web site and you must have an understanding of your online target audience," he said. Nunn suggests incorporating repair status updates and answers to frequently asked questions about estimates and repairs.
In the final part of the presentation, Nunn discussed creating a marketing plan for your shop. Marketing plans, he said, consists of five components: value proposition, current circumstances, goals and objectives, tactics and financial implications. Every marketing plan must include a customer retention and referral plan, DRP resume, agent solicitation plan and geographical-driven plan. And any marketing plan should allow for some type of measurement to make sure it's working properly for the shop.