There is a constant stream of advice from industry experts concerning customer loyalty and retention. While most of the advice is on point, a large piece is typically missing in the bigger picture. In order to increase market share, businesses must be aware of what their competition is doing. Turning a blind eye to pricing and marketing tactics of the dealership down the road can easily cost sales or service business. Savvy dealers check out what their competition is doing. But, these mystery shops or research data is usually limited to their franchised competitors, not independent repair facilities, which is a mistake.
A recent roundtable discussion published by Loyalty360 included key executives of some large independent repair franchises. It provides interesting insight into the mindsets and strategies they are using to build customer loyalty and keep customers coming back.
The roundtable included Robert Falconi, CEO and John Wiegand, SVP of Operations with Precision Tune Auto Care; along with Tom Tracy, SVP of Marketing for Monro Muffler Brake & Service; Ralph Yarusso, SVP of Operations and Business Development for Grease Monkey; and Ryan Rose, Director of Automotive Strategy for Clutch. In this roundtable, several questions were posed to the group including:
- What is your brand’s biggest strength with customer experience? Tracy indicated that they focus on thoroughness in their inspections in order to prevent further issues down the road. Yarusso stated that it was the consumer’s desire for quick service done right. Falconi recognized the bad reputation that repair shops have gained and stressed that ethics is their most important value proposition. While Rose indicated that using customer data to analyze consumer behavior is key to effective marketing.
- What’s the most significant customer challenge your brand faces? The group’s answers to this question revolved around providing a consistent customer experience across all of their facilities. Staffing the stores with the right people who understand the importance of providing an excellent customer experience is challenging for Precision. Monro focuses on being clear with their customers on what they should expect, then delivering on those promises. While Grease Monkey strives for chain-wide consistency in experience.
- How is technology impacting your brand’s customer experience? These groups are integrating and utilizing technology across the board to enhance their customer’s experience, including the use of tablets by advisors, digital menu boards and mobile friendly websites with appointment setting abilities. They recognize that consumers have access to more information and conduct research as to the best place to take their vehicle. So, they work to ensure that their information is easily accessible and helps convince consumers to choose them.
- What role does data play in your marketing strategy? These independents recognize that data is an incredibly effective tool when used to communicate with customers in relevant and personalized ways. Wiegand shared the importance of using data to lure back customers who haven’t come in for service in some time. While Rose shared the importance of integrating data from many sources, including POS systems, vehicle databases, and even social accounts.
It is a sad fact that in the eye of the consumer, these independent service departments still have the edge in their ability to provide a complete service experience. The 2015 annual survey of Consumer Reports subscribers found that independents outscored dealership service for overall satisfaction, price, quality, courteousness of the staff, and work being completed when promised.
However, most independents lack the ability to perform major service repairs, or recall work. That being said, it’s very easy to lose sight of just how important quick service type ROs are. These all provide these independents with the opportunity to interact with and touch a customer. Every service performed at an independent versus a dealership is a lost opportunity (and revenue) for a dealership.
So, take note of the strategies that independents are using to attract and retain customers and consider implementing similar strategies to help improve the customer experience at your dealership. Otherwise, you may find your customers visiting less frequently and miss out on a great deal of revenue and countless opportunities.