Repair shops and many other businesses often use gifts and deals to get first-time customers in their doors – and if you aren’t, you should start. Things like discounts and freebies – a free car wash or a free oil change – pull customers in and give you a chance to connect with them.
Remember that first date mentality? People love gifts, especially on first dates, but many shops see freebies solely as ways to up-sell other, more expensive services to customers. Move away from this kind of thinking. You’ll be much more successful if you think of gifts as ways to start and build relationships with customers.
That Special Something
“Customers forget many things,” says Gerry Frank and Keith McCrone, co-owners of Automotive Profit Pro. “They’ll typically forget a mistake made here or there, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” Frank and McCrone help auto repair shops become and stay profitable and successful. They advise that if you can make customers feel special, make them feel like they aren’t just another customer, you’ll be on your way to building a relationship with them. And people buy from people they like. Strive to get people to like you rather than sell them services and you’ll see your shop grow more and more successful every year.
Obviously not every customer interaction can or should involve gifts, but you still need to work hard to foster customer relationships with every interaction. Think about a stylist at a hair salon. Clients are often so devoted to one stylist that they will follow her across town if she moves shop because they’ve developed such strong relationships. How does this happen? The stylist makes her clients feel good by making them look good and she usually gets to know them personally.
Ask yourself these questions to see how well you’re developing relationships with your clients:
· Do you use every chance you get to remember and use the customer’s name?
· Do you offer free gifts or deep discounts to all customers, not just a select few?
· Do you follow up with customers, either with a phone call or Thank You card? This is a perfect time to get feedback or fix any mix ups to make your customer feel special.
· Do you listen and remember your customers? If they talk about their upcoming wedding during one visit, do you remember to ask them about it later? Keep notes!
· Do you know your customers?
It takes time and hard work to build any kind of relationship. Get to know your customers and give them stuff every now and then. Use monthly activities, holidays, and contests as opportunities to grow and have fun with them. Once you see that you’re in the relationship building business, you’ll see more referrals and more customers.