Everyone needs to drum up more work sometimes.
Whether you’re a one-man mobile operation or you have a couple of locations, odds are you’ve run into some dry spells – or have at least realized, “Hey, I could take on some more work.” You’ve got the tools, skills, and the bay waiting; what you need to figure out is how to bring in customers. You need to funnel work into your shop.
Since we italicized that word, you can tell we’re going somewhere with it. Yes, friends, today we’re going to talk about revenue funnels and how they can help bring work into your shop.
But what is a repair shop revenue funnel, and how is it different from the “revenue funnel” graphics you’ve seen splashed around the internet?
In short, it’s how your repair shop can draw in additional business. Picture a funnel tapering downward. The top is how you get the attention of potential customers. The bottom is those potential customers turning into actual customers and spending money with you. Personally, we like the one that starts with “awareness” (people learning about you) and ends with “purchase” (people bringing their vehicle in for repairs or preventive maintenance).
In short, it’s all about bringing in more business. You may or may not refer to it as revenue funnel yourself; you might just think of it as, well, attracting customers or keeping the bays full, or even give it a cool name like meal ticket or screaming into the void (maybe that’s just this writer).
We could write whole ebooks about the revenue funnel and what each layer means for you, but for today’s article we’re going to stick to some high-level ideas that will help you get people into your funnel and turn them into paying customers.
PART I: MARKETING
Oh no, you may be saying, Fullbay, you’ve already written so much about marketing.
Friends, that’s because marketing is so darn critical.
No one is going to show up at your shop if they don’t know you exist.
You can do all the physical stuff right: get a big sign, pick out great techs, have a couple of satisfied customers…but then what?
Marketing is how you get people into your revenue funnel. You absolutely need a plan, and before you make a plan, you need to know at least the following:
- Who are you selling to? Are they fleet managers, owner-operators, someone in between?
- How can you reach them? Radio ads might work for owner-operators, but maybe you need flyers to reach fleet managers. That’s something you’ll need to figure out as you go.
- Do you have a website? If not, stop reading this and hire someone to make one. You absolutely need at least a small website these days.
- How’s your SEO? We can’t overstate enough the value of search engine optimization, which helps Google identify what your shop does and connect you with appropriate visitors.
- Are your rates in line with your local market? You have to balance between not gauging your customer but not leaving money on the table. Rely on labor guides to make sure you’re quoting customers with industry-backed standards. That takes a lot of the confusion and, yes, emotion, out of billing. (And psst, Fullbay has a pretty awesome integration that includes labor guides!)
PART II: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
Believe it or not, marketing is all about building relationships. That element seems to be forgotten these days, so we’re zeroing in on it.
People want to buy from people. When there’s a human connection behind the exchange of goods or services, it stops being about just a product. We know one shop owner who didn’t see a ton of results until he started walking around his neighborhood, knocking on doors, introducing himself, and explaining what he did. This didn’t just alert his neighbors to his occupation; it also introduced them, well, to their neighbor, whom they might not have known otherwise. He became a person, someone they said hello to on the street.
You might talk for months before a friend of a friend says, “Gosh, I need to repair my Peterbilt.” Your friend answers, “Hey, my neighbor works on Peterbilts!”
You might roll your eyes at “always be networking.” It’s a phrase that has drifted outward from a lot of white-collar jobs. But it makes sense here. It can even beat your digital presence. And everything we’re about to suggest below depends on you having a decent relationship with your customers.
PART III: WORKING WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT
So, you know you need to get cracking on a marketing plan. If you have existing customers already, there’s more you can do to get them further down the funnel.
Here are five areas that can help you make that happen:
Preventive maintenance. We say it all the time: Make sure you get that sweet, sweet PM work. If you’re doing repair work for a fleet, you should absolutely be handling their PMs! This kind of work provides a steady income stream and can keep a shop’s lights on. If you’re not handling PMs for your clients, suggest it to them and do your best to secure that business.
Repair requests. If a customer has a complaint that needs a diagnosis, they’re generally authorizing a specified amount of time for you to make that diagnosis. For this example, we’ll say they’ve authorized an hour. Your tech has completed their inspection and provided an estimate, but the customer hasn’t yet responded. Maybe it’s a minor fix, maybe they just need the truck back now. For whatever reason, they didn’t follow through on a repair. Call them, check on them, and see if you can get that truck into a bay.
Estimates. We’ve all gotten those calls or emails asking us, “Hey, what would this cost?” You listened to their issue, scratched out a quote, and then…well, then they did nothing. You’ve still got their contact info, and they presumably still have an issue with their truck. Give them a call: “Hey, we’ve got time. Want us to take care of that?”
Intake inspections. Every time a truck comes in, make sure your techs do a thorough inspection! Evaluate it. See what’s wrong, if anything (this can also justify that hourlong initial diagnostic, if you have customers balking at it). Be on the lookout for things that can cause problems that just haven’t been noticed yet. Tire tread depth, oil leaks, and so on – it’s almost a miniature DOT inspection. Your customers, by the way, will likely thank you when you point out issues that might end up leading to unplanned downtime.
Pending repairs. This option is similar to repair requests, with the exception that pending repairs have already been rejected by a customer. You gave them the estimate; they didn’t disappear, but instead declined the repair entirely. Don’t just give up on them. As we mentioned above, certain work may get pushed off because they don’t have the time or budget for it. Let customers know you’re thinking of them: give them a call and say, “Hey, remember when you declined that repair? We’ve got space in the bay right now and we can knock it out.”
We’d like to re-draw a connection here between taking care of your customers and the all-important building relationships. You’re still a person talking to another person, and you have a shared ultimate goal: to keep their vehicles on the road, making them money, and operating safely. Customers like to know you’ve got them top of mind. It makes them want to come back for more.
PART IV: QUALITY IS KING
This is going to be a short section, because you likely already know it. But it bears repeating: Quality is king.
If you routinely churn out shoddy work, all the great marketing and revenue tricks in the world won’t help you. Keep a careful eye on the efficiency of your techs and the repairs they produce. If someone is struggling to crank out quality work on a regular basis, you need to either find a way to help them do better or look at replacing them.
Believe us, shoddy workmanship costs more business than just not taking business.
You can incentivize your techs to perform excellent work in a variety of ways. Remind them that they are there to make sure the roads are safe. By keeping trucks running properly, they’re preventing accidents. They are literally making the highways safer for themselves, their families, their friends, everyone.
(There’s always perks like bonuses, too.)
PART V: FULLBAY CAN HELP
You can do a lot of this on your own, but it requires careful record-tracking and, let’s be honest, a whole lot of notes and spreadsheets. Why do that to yourself?
Fullbay isn’t just a whiz at tracking PMs and building service orders. It also lets you see pending repairs and keep track of estimates. Instead of digging through piles of paperwork, you can click a button and see exactly which customers you should be checking in with. And the customer portal makes that really, really easy.
If you’re ready to see what great shop management software can do for your revenue funnel, get in touch with us for a free demo! We can’t wait to help you fill your bays.