We sat down this morning with coffee and the ASA: How's Your Business Report for the Collision Repair Industry.
Some interesting bits of information.........
First, 41% of the shops responded that compared to 2009 business was down. However, of those same shops 47.5% of them were spending less then $5,000 a year on their Advertising budget????
The other interesting part was 88% of the shops responding said they use "Word Of Mouth" advertising?
Now here's a bit of truth for shops that believe "Word of Mouth" is the best way to promote and gain business. The fact is in today's market of DRP's and accelerated service the only word of mouth that seems to resonate with customers is the negative. I can't tell you how many times I was on the phone with a customer regarding their claim and they would tell me.... I've heard great things about shop A, BUT.... It always surprised me how they would not go to a shop they had heard positive things about, but they would fight not to go to a shop they had heard a negative experience about.
When the customer is in a situation as uncomfortable as a collision the parties in the process such as agents and insurance companies have more influence on the direction the customer will choose. To be fair, we're not talking about steering or if agents and adjusters should have an influence, but it is what it is in the market.
We're also not saying the positive feelings of your customers are not important, but simply put, in today's market it's just not enough. Advertising is not always about growing your business it's sometimes about keeping the business you have.
Good luck in 2011!
Get out there and let your community know the great work you do. Build customer loyalty before the collision event so that when they need you they seek you. A customer with a compass doesn't need guidence on the path!
Your last paragraph says it all, build loyalty before the collision. I have always promoted developing referring customers. Asking my consulting customers if they are just taking care of the customer until the repairs are complete always gets them thinking. I ask them what they are doing to move their customers from being good customers to great customers that refer business. I impress on them that it is not hard to meet expectations, meeting expectations creates good customers, but if they want to generate a referral they need to develop great customers. I teach them to take time to know their customer and their customer will know to come back, we all know few businesses can survive by serving a customer only once. You have to develop practices that turn good customers into great referring customers. Developing a referring customer coupled with a sound marketing program will keep a shop in front of the customers.
Don't forget to say Thank You!