Maybe the discomfort of driving around with these flaws simply hasn’t been great enough to motivate them to fix them. Or maybe they imagine the cost, not only in terms of money, but also in considering the inconvenience of being without the vehicle while it’s being fixed, is too great to bother.
If a shop mainly relies on insurance or dealerships for work, this may not be an interesting marketing move. But if a shop seeks to bring in new customers and add to a database of marketing targets, this could be a real opportunity to increase the shop’s volume and potential volume of business. In general advertising a collision repair shop is mainly done to make a shop’s name, location and reputation broadly known. When viewers of the ad may not have an accident for three or more years in the future, getting an immediate response is only a peripheral intent of the ad. But the advertising campaign I’m proposing here, aimed at a great many drivers with minor body damage, could produce an immediate volume of responses if handled right.
The proposed ad should offer a “Ding Day Special.” The two vital aspects of the ad must be that it will be low cost, and with very little time commitment. For the bold shop owner, the ad could also offer “No risk—your money back if not completely satisfied.” Some owners might hesitate on this one, but statistically the no risk offer increases responses significantly. An additional attraction to be offered by the tech-savvy shop would be an on-line inquiry and approximate estimate for potential customers. The prospective customer simply uploads a photo of the damage and the shop gets back to him or her with an approximate repair time and cost.
To make the “Ding Day” routine work well, a shop must commit significant resources to getting vehicles completed and out quickly at reasonable cost. The real profit should not be in the limited scope of the minor repair. Instead it should be viewed as a sales opportunity. This is a chance to collect many customer information forms filled in with vital marketing information. It has to collect information on all vehicles owned by the customer’s family and employer and any other vehicles in need of repair. It should have his or her insurance agent and possibly organizations the customer belongs to that could be marketing targets. Filling in of the form can’t be simply handing it to the vehicle owner, leaving him or her to omit many important marketing bits of information. The estimator or a well-trained front desk person should make certain most of the requested information is captured. And this is just step one in capturing this vital sales opportunity.
While it may be possible to talk the prospect into bringing in another vehicle that needs repair right then and there, this could be shortsighted. In order to keep the turn-around time short, it could be better to solicit work on other vehicles with follow-up calls. If the customer was pleased with a quick turn-around, the estimator should get a welcome response when making the follow-up call. This call would also be an appropriate time to ask for permission to call the customer’s business and social organization connections to make the shop known to them. This tactic has worked well with Amway and Avon solicitors and builds an ever-expanding network of related individuals for marketing purposes. When there is reluctance to pass along phone numbers, these days asking for an e-mail address or even Facebook connection could get an easier response.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty getting this tactic to work is the problem of where to advertise and how to reach the greatest number of prospective customers. Today print ads have limited value as people turn away from printed newspapers and get their news on-line. TV ads are generally too expensive, but radio ads could be a real possibility in some areas. On-line ads are essential.The ad has to be direct and simple. It should start with the key question: “Are you tired of living with that ugly dent, ding or scratch on your vehicle? For a limited time we are offering a very low-cost, fast turn-around repair to restore your vehicle to its original beauty. And we’re located close enough for you to drop your vehicle off in the morning and pick it up, possibly as early as noon. Call us or e-mail a quick photo of your damage and we’ll give you an approximate estimate immediately.”