Fuel Your Auto Repair Shop with Customer Referrals this Summer

Upswell Logo Blue Cmyk11211Most of America has been under stay-at-home orders for the past few months, but the economy is opening up again. Your customers are planning their summer vacations, and are more likely to drive their personal cars than use mass transportation.

While you’re looking at ways to maximize your marketing dollars, now is the ideal time to launch—or refresh—a customer referral program for your auto repair shop. A referral program motivates your most loyal and satisfied customers to help you attract new business.

Word-of-mouth marketing is seriously effective; a New York Times study found that 65% of companies’ new business comes from referrals. What’s more, it costs you next to nothing.

How to Set Up Your Referral Program in 5 Easy Steps

To get your referral program moving:

  1. Provide stellar service to your existing customers. Referrals start with happy customers. Boost your staff’s customer service skills, such as phone etiquette. Also, use a reputation management program to evaluate your customers’ satisfaction after they leave your shop.
  2. Identify your most engaged customers. Search your customer database for your most frequent customers and for those who provide the best lifetime value. Separate them from your other customers, remembering that your most valued and frequent clients are the best opportunities for referrals.
  3. Motivate your customers. Decide what incentives you’ll offer. You can start with a customer rewards program, and sweeten the deal by adding a referral incentive. It could be a $5 or $10 electronic gift card that they redeem from a select list of businesses—something that makes them feel valued.

You may even want to offer additional rewards for additional referrals—the more they refer, the more they earn. Whatever you do, we recommend not discounting your services. Otherwise, your customers may wonder if you’ve marked up the prices.

  1. Create a process. If you prefer to have your referral program fully automated, you can use your CRM and a reputation management system to email or text your customers asking for a review soon after they leave the shop. Then provide them a way, either through a custom link or a social post, to share their referral online. Or, you could stick to the old fashioned way and simply hand out referral cards to your customers with a place for new customers to write down who referred them.
  2. Give credit to your customers. If a new customer comes in on a referral, ask how they heard about you, and accurately track it back to the right source.

A referral program should be a cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Referred customers typically spend more—think repairs versus an oil change—because their friends or family told them you’re a trusted shop.

As the country continues to reopen and traffic starts to steadily increase, so will the number of cars in your shop. Make sure you’ve dusted off your customer service skills and implemented a strong reputation management and referral program. A happy customer leads to a loyal customer, and with the right processes in place, a loyal customer can become one of your best marketing assets.

For help putting together your customer referral program or to receive your Free Marketing Assessment, call UpSwell at 866-397-1770 or visit our website.

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