Approaching the marketing game by constantly trying to drum up new business is stressful and a waste of resources, too. Statistics show that acquiring a new customer costs five times more than keeping one you already have. While new business is a good thing, you should focus a chunk of your repair shop marketing on keeping existing customers happy. The sparkling word-of-mouth testimonials from happy customers bring in new business. Loyalty programs are an effective way to retain existing customers and inspire them to talk your shop up to others. It’s a strategy that works for just about any business. But there’s a right way to implement a program like this for maximum ROI. It starts with making customers happy and turning them into raving fans. Let’s take a look at what keeps customers happy and how to start a customer loyalty program for your heavy duty repair shop.
What it Takes to Keep Customers Happy
If you don’t keep customers happy, it won’t matter if you know how to start a loyalty program for your heavy duty repair shop. Keeping customers happy is the first step to building ongoing business and word-of-mouth referrals.
Wow Them with Customer Service
Ever heard of customer relationship management (CRM)? It covers all aspects of connecting with customers. The basic idea is that every interaction with customers is an opportunity to do some PR for your shop. Whether they come in for routine preventive maintenance, need to buy a part over the counter, or drop in needing an unexpected repair, your crew’s goal should be to provide customers with a positive, memorable experience. Set up a win-win by offering the products and services they need. If it happens to be something not already in your shop’s repertoire, go the extra mile to take care of it anyway and do a stellar job. Order in that obscure part or touch up a scratch in the paint, even if you don’t typically offer bodywork. Anything within reason that shows you’ll do what it takes to be their heavy duty repair shop of choice.
Other ways you can wow them with your customer service include:
- being accessible—make it easy for customers to request services, schedule repairs, and get quotes
- upping your efficiency game—getting repairs and services done as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality
- staying in touch—communicate with your customers
Communicating involves more than just sending out email newsletters. It means really engaging with customers every chance you get. Let them know what repairs need to be done and why. Talk to the customer about how your shop will handle their service and how long it will take. Keep them in the loop. Update them in real-time during a service or repair and let them know ASAP if there’s a delay. Definitely send out newsletters, but also email or text customers with appointment reminders or when a service is coming due. You’ll find communication goes a long way in keeping customers happy and loyal.
Building trust with customers is a key factor in loyalty. When they know you have their back and what level of service to expect from your shop, they can relax. That creates loyal and happy customers. Building trust takes some time and it’s one of those instances when actions speak louder than words. It goes back to seeing every interaction with customers as an opportunity. Each one gives you the chance to show them you’re trustworthy.
Start building trust with your customers by really listening to them. You’ll learn what they want and need. Be honest and transparent, too, even if it means having a difficult conversation. Bad news is still bad news, no matter how many layers of sugar-coating you put on it. Along with transparency, practice accountability, too. Show customers that you can be trusted not to pass the buck or sweep mistakes under the rug. Prove you’ll do what it takes to right a wrong. Deliver on promises. When you can’t, don’t delay in notifying customers of the problem and what you’re doing to solve it. If it sounds like we’re talking about communication again, that’s no accident. Many aspects of relationship-building—even for heavy duty shops—are linked to strong, open communication, and that includes building customer trust.
How to Start a Customer Loyalty Program for Your Heavy Duty Repair Shop
Loyalty programs are one of the most cost-effective ways to keep customers happy. It not only rewards them for coming back to your shop, but it’s a great way to incentivize the word-of-mouth referrals you’re looking for. Let’s go over how to start a customer loyalty program for your shop to lock in those happy customers and attract new ones.
Pick the Reward
When you start a customer loyalty program for your shop, you need to decide what behaviors you’re going to reward and what prizes or gifts you’re going to offer. Maybe you’ll invite every new customer to join the program, or maybe you’ll reserve it for “elite” customers. Alternatively, you might want to start a referral club that rewards customers who refer business to you. You could even combine it all in one big program, it’s all up to you.
As for the rewards, there are many choices. Customers could earn coupons, a percent off a parts purchase, or even a free service. Or, you could set up the program so that for each actual dollar spent with you, customers accrue points or “shop bucks” that can be used toward the bill on their next purchase or repair after they’ve accumulated a certain amount. “Next” is the keyword. Making them wait until the next time they come in gives them incentive to use your shop again.
Pick your Format
You’re probably familiar with the traditional punch-card formats for loyalty programs. Usually, customers pay full-price for 10 oil changes, for instance, and the 11th one is free. That old-school format might work well for many shops, but there are other types of “cards” you can offer when you start a customer loyalty program for your heavy duty shop.
For example, you could hand out a gift card that can be loaded with the rewards you’ll give out, whether it be points or shop bucks or some other reward. Each time the customer buys the reward-related service, spends money at your shop, or refers someone, you can add the reward to their card, kind of like making deposits to their loyalty account.
The overall concept can be implemented using a smartphone app, loyalty cards, or plastic keychain tags. Or, you could even get software that keeps a record of the rewards for your customers so customers wouldn’t have to keep track of a card or tag in order to reap the benefits of your loyalty program. Plus, sending out a statement email notifying them of their accrued rewards would give you another reason to stay in contact with them and keep your shop’s name on their minds.
Get the Word Out
You can count on your customers to talk about how great you treat them, whether it’s an in-person word-of-mouth or glowing online review. But when you start a customer loyalty program for your shop, you’ll want to get the word out as quickly and widely as possible. Social media is an effective way to do that. Posts about your program on Facebook and Twitter get shared and reposted, and you can even tie rewards to those platforms. Offer 10 shop bucks, for example, to each customer who tags your shop in a post. They don’t even have to be existing customers. A campaign like that could bring new customers through the door who want to join the club, and word of your program will spread to their social media contacts in the process.
Of course, you’ll also want to spread the word through all your other marketing channels including newsletters, emails, or even the opt-in forms on your website. Customers could get free enrollment in your loyalty program plus 5 points or shop bucks loaded onto their loyalty card in exchange for their email address. It’s an excellent way to offer added value to the customer while building your email list.
Use Repair Shop Software
Streamlining the process is the best way to manage a loyalty program, and heavy duty repair shop software comes in handy for that task. Software like Fullbay helps with every aspect, starting with creating happy customers. It automates a lot of the administrative duties such as inventory, ordering parts, creating service orders, assigning jobs, and invoicing customers. Plus, Fullbay’s “All Revenue Report” provides you with the stats to see who your best customers are.
Additionally, Fullbay has a customer portal that keeps customers involved in the process. Through it, they can request a repair or service, look up their truck’s or fleet’s history, and see when their next PMs are due. Plus, your techs can use it to keep customers informed about a job as it’s status, in real-time. All that contact keeps customers in the loop to elevate satisfaction, so they keep coming back for more. Get a feel for how Fullbay can help you attract loyal customers and keep them happy—just fill in the form below.