More Sales at Your Fingertips
A collision repairer invented an automated text messaging service as a way to promote his shop. Now other shops are jumping on board—and saving money doing it.
Over the course of a repair at Sterling Autobody, customers are likely to get up to four text messages that say something like this: “Hi Nancy. Your Buick is happy here! Why? Because we are taking good care of it until it comes home on March 8 at 5 p.m.”
Notte likes UpdatePromise so much that his company, which runs 61 collision repair shops in 16 states, has cut back dramatically on traditional promotions like mailings, fliers, coupons and phone calls to people who typically don’t even answer the phone. Sterling’s overall annual marketing budget is down 66 percent since he started using UpdatePromise, to $250,000 from $750,000. Sterling’s sales are up since the company started using the service—despite cutting back on traditional marketing—which tells Notte the service is working.
“[At first] I thought these UpdatePromise.com messages were stupid. But it’s exactly what the customer wants to see."
—Michael Quinn, co-founder of 911 Collision
“Sterling’s senior leadership team noticed exponentially more benefit than the expense of the program,” says Notte, whose company pays $79 a month for each of its 61 locations to use the program. The service costs $199 per month per shop, with steep discounts for multiple shop locations.
Shop operators who are using UpdatePromise say they’ve used it to promote themselves to existing customers, reduce marketing budgets, increase capture ratios and ultimately increase sales.
The messages, sent via a shop’s software management system, don’t share the gritty details of the repair job, but describe the progression of the repair to the customer based on the timeline a shop gives them when they drop off their vehicle. When UpdatePromise.com receives repair order data from a shop’s management system, no manual data entry or employee involvement is required.
The system also serves as a two-way communication tool. Customers can text back to the shop with questions, comments or concerns throughout the repair, rather than having to wait until the end of the process, Caulfield says.
Once a customer picks up their vehicle, they receive four more messages from the shop throughout the following year: after 30 days, 90 days, six months, and on the one-year anniversary of the repair.
Every message is branded with the shop’s name and contact information, and reminds the customer to call with any future questions.
“If our number is in their phone all the time, that’s just one more chance for the customer to remember your company,” says Notte.
“I thought these UpdatePromise.com messages were stupid,” Quinn says. “But it’s exactly what the customer wants to see.” Quinn expects to see a two-point bump in his CSI scores.
• Texting creates buzz. Using a promotional tool that’s still on the cutting edge can differentiate a shop from the competition and create buzz, says Quinn. “If I text someone updates and they’re standing around with their friends, they’re going to turn their phone around and show it off,” Quinn says. It’s likely the customer will tell their friends the name of your company, which promotes the brand name and sparks discussion about the business, he added.
The most important thing with any new promotional tools is to pair it with great customer service and a quality repair, Bickett says. It’s more than just one satisfactory experience that will drive your brand to the top of a customer’s mind; it’s important to do something memorable.
“We’re becoming a digital world,” Bickett says. “If you don’t represent yourself there, you’re going to be invisible.” So invisible, he says, it’s like not having a sign on your building.
This article appears in the May 2010 issue of FenderBender
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