Something occurred to me recently.
I work a lot amongst the automotive industry; it's my background, and I guess that somehow qualifies me to help garage owners and managers to increase their trade and profits.
I know when things are good because they're buying, and I know when it's quiet because they moan and ask how everyone else is doing. When no one is spending money it hits everyone, and has an effect all the way up the pipeline.
But... there are always a certain few that remain busy all through the year. Their quiet patches are few and far between, and they don't get their knickers in a twist when it happens. So what are they doing differently?
Like common sense, it seems to be getting less and less common.
As most consumers are aware, there are a few large chains that seem to "specialise" in ripping people off when their car is in for a service. So, you go in for your 80,000km service, to be told that you need four tyres, the brakes are worn out and the shock absorbers are past their best, and you'll need a four-wheel alignment to go with it.
"But we can do it all today for you for $1,600 if we get started right away."
Nine times out of ten the go ahead is given over the phone because you're at work and just want the car fixed in one day so there's less inconvenience. Perfectly understandable.
You then get hit with a massive bill you weren't originally expecting and you start to wonder how much of that list actually needed doing right now. You've been upsold and now don't feel very good about it. The car feels the same, you've quite possibly been ripped off, and you don't go back as a result.
Now that business has to find another customer to replace you, which is stupid. Realistically they want you back every six months for the life of that vehicle, and the next one too. It makes sense that you go back to the person you know. And it's far easier to retain a customer, than to find new ones.
So what do you do next time?
You ask friends and family who services their cars. And Jane, one of your neighbours, mentions a place down town that does a great job on the car, always points out what needs doing and gives her a list of the most important items. She goes away knowing what might be dangerous, and what can be left for a while etc.
Sure, if something is unsafe they let her know and get it sorted, but always keep the parts so she can see for herself when she picks the car up. Not only that but the price is reasonable, and they put a small gift (like an air freshener) on the passenger seat every time she takes the car in.
Something small, but it feels nice. And that's the keyword. She feels good about spending money on her car, and is prepared to recommend that garage to another friend. A new customer for a couple of bucks of investment, who might bring in even more.
Being looked after.
It's easy to see where I'm going with this. If you give the customer exactly what they need, as opposed to what they sometimes want, you've probably got them for life. You've built trust with them and that counts for an awful lot. A car serviced every six months adds up to a lot of money over the years, rather than ripping someone off at one visit and never seeing them again. And that's before they've destroyed your reputation on social media too.
We all want to feel value for money. It's hard to come by and most of us have to work hard to get it. So if it matters to you, as a business owner, then show it by giving your customers the very best service you can, at a reasonable rate.
More soon folks...