Top 5 Best Practices Of Successful Auto Repair Shops
These days, it’s more important than ever to ensure your auto shop can stand out from the competition. A whopping 75% of all aftermarket auto repairs are handled by independent shops, meaning your customers have more than a few options to choose from when they need these services.
Fortunately, your shop can take action to succeed in this crowded field. Especially by using modern technology, you can create a more convenient and straightforward experience for the people you work with. If you’re wondering how to run a successful automotive repair shop, here are five best practices for attracting new customers and retaining your current clientele.
1. Improve Your Layout
A robust online experience for your customers is crucial, but you can’t afford to neglect the physical side of your business. Even if customers can schedule appointments online and get reminders via text, they will eventually have to visit you in person for auto shop services.
Lay out your garage efficiently to make life for your techs as easy as possible. This will help them work efficiently and provide quick, high-quality customer service.
When you’re planning to rework your shop’s layout, make sure to:
- Avoid cramped spaces. Common auto shop elements such as service pits and hydraulic pits take up a great deal of room, so make sure your shop layout is designed to make the most of the space you have. If you don’t already have dedicated areas for service and repairs, consider reworking your shop’s floor plan to allow for this.
- Organize your parts storage. Since auto techs constantly work with parts, the way you store these parts matters. Create a dedicated space for part storage, then use alphabetical or vehicle-based organization methods to help techs find what they need quickly.
- Provide a comfortable waiting area. Do you think your customers won’t be willing to wait at your shop until their car repairs are complete? Think again — over half of people stick around for repairs that take up to two hours. Because of that, you’ll want to create a genuinely accommodating waiting room complete with comfortable seats, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary beverages.
- Treat your workers right. Don’t forget about the well-being of your qualified technicians and other employees, too. Instead of making them take breaks in your waiting room or parking lot, establish a break room if your shop doesn’t have one yet.
- Embrace technology in your workplace. Not every shop change must involve alterations to your floor plan. Introducing digital solutions may look like a small change, but these technologies can completely transform the way you do business for the better.
2. Utilize SMS Text Messages
Any successful auto repair shop needs a healthy marketing strategy — and in the 21st century, you’ll need to go beyond traditional TV or print ads. While social media and search advertising are solid options, SMS text messaging is one of the best digital marketing platforms available today. Believe it or not, text messages have an open rate of 99% (and 97% of texts are read within 15 minutes).
Better yet, you can use text messaging for many different marketing needs, ranging from advertising new discounts to reminding customers that they have an appointment coming up. Sending this many texts manually would be much too time-consuming, so find a digital marketing platform that allows you to schedule and automate text messages in advance.
3. Streamline Auto Shop Operations
Right now, it’s not uncommon to see auto shops adding tablets and other technologies to their front-end operations. And while these advances can undoubtedly improve the customer experience, their impact on shops can easily go beyond that.
Consider adding tablets to your workflow to enjoy:
- Digital inspections. With tablet-based digital inspection software from AutoVitals, customers can view inspection reports on their phones and other devices.
- Workflow automation. Adding at least one tablet to your shop can help you keep a close eye on changes to your workflow and save cash by reducing unproductive time.
- Improved time tracking. Your technicians shouldn’t have to leave their bays to shift gears from one job to the next or to clock in and out for the day. Tablets make it possible to complete these functions in one place.
- Efficient parts ordering. The traditional process for part ordering parts can be a pain for techs. Luckily, tablets can let your workers order their needed parts while staying where they are.
- Easy access to vehicle info. Finally, tablets can simplify the research aspect of vehicle repairs for your employees. With this technology, your workers can check vehicle manuals, repair order details, and much more.
4. Offer Online Scheduling
Today’s auto shop software can improve efficiency by simplifying your shop’s scheduling process. Ideally, you’ll want to find scheduling software that integrates with your existing POS system, provides notes functionality, and includes high-quality customer service and training from the company providing it — all of which AutoVitals can deliver.
Despite these perks, switching from the traditional auto shop scheduling board to an online scheduling system can be difficult for some technicians. To maximize buy-in across your workforce, be willing to communicate clearly with employees while focusing on the advantages this technology offers.
5. Uplevel Your Website
While most of these best practices focus on improving your auto shop in one way or another, it’s also wise to enhance your web presence. It’s no exaggeration to say most of your customers will see your website well before they visit you in person. Anywhere from 70 – 80% of people research businesses online before choosing them for the products or services they need.
Ideally, your auto shop website should feature:
- A mobile-friendly layout. Today, slightly more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices — meaning it should be easy for people using phones to read about your shop.
- Online scheduling. The functionality provided by your website matters, too. Online scheduling makes it easier for potential customers to form a relationship with your shop.
- SEO content. Content prepared with search engine optimization in mind can make it much easier for people looking for local auto shops to find your business.
- Strong branding. Make sure to have a memorable logo, graphics and images that fit your business’ image, content written to complement your shop’s “voice,” and even a carefully-chosen color scheme.
- Good user experience (UX). For people to have a positive experience with your website, they must be able to navigate it intuitively. According to Nielsen Norman Group (a UX research firm), you can accomplish this goal by focusing on the five primary elements of usability: learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction.
An All-In-One Solution
To adopt all the best practices listed here, you’ll need access to a whole fleet of auto shop services. Web design, digital vehicle inspections, workflow management, and digital marketing all fall under the same umbrella of digital solutions for auto shops. However, these are all very different services — and you may assume that means finding separate providers to help you with each one.
The good news is that your auto shop can get all these services and more by partnering with AutoVitals. As the one and only complete Shop Success Solution behind profitable growth for independent auto repair companies, AutoVitals can boost your shop’s ARO while making things easier than ever for your employees and customers. Explore the services provided by AutoVitals by scheduling a demo today!