This struck me as curious because many customers have indicated to this shop that their main concern was how fast they could get their car back, and with self-pay customers, it was price that was most important. Very few mentioned quality.
In recent years, it seems in many business areas speed and prices have triumphed over quality. Fast food establishments far outnumber other restaurants, and while quality may be a minor concern, price and speed of service are what counts. Today’s marketplace is dominated by “instant” services: photos, cleaning, car washes and even tune-ups and oil-changes. Given this preponderance of concern for speed and price, I found it curious that these factors were rarely mentioned on collision repair websites I visited. Of course there was some mention of “cycle time,” but I never found this trumpeted as THE reason to visit the shop.
So is quality dead as a primary characteristic when marketing a shop? Of course not, but when visiting dozens of shops, I was surprised to find that some of the busiest shops were better at marketing than quality of work. Of course possibly it was due to the large volume of jobs that there were more returns and re-dos. I’ve also found this discrepancy to be true of some other professionals I’ve worked with. A mediocre attorney was always busy because he excelled at promoting himself. I even went to a highly promoted dentist who was incredibly busy, but the dental work I received was far below the quality I’ve received at a small dental facility.
I’ve observed that those businesses that manage to attract a large volume of customers concentrate heavily on marketing. This is not to say they neglect the quality of the work they deliver, but when advertisements all loudly proclaim the great quality of their services or products, perhaps viewers come to believe that they’re all about the same. And if there isn’t any significant difference in quality, why not simply choose on the basis of price and speed?
So what might these observations mean to a shop owner about to spend time and money on advertising and promotion? I would say the number one take-away is don’t underestimate the importance of a full-time focus on marketing. Many shop owners started out in production themselves. They are naturally concerned with the quality of work their shop produces and marketing is probably not as comfortable a skill as production quality. Nevertheless, if marketing is properly viewed as the tool that brings customers in the door, it has to be elevated to the number one position whether the shop is slow or not.
The next take-away might suggest a change of focus for their website. Anyone surfing the web looking for a collision repair facility is unlikely to be swayed by assertions of superior quality that are fairly uniform from one collision repair site to the next. It’s also likely that this surfer wants to eliminate the time it would take to travel around to various shops or to even call them. The web surfer is obviously concerned with time and speed. Finally, why do people purchase products and services on-line rather than from a local shop or store? Abundance of choices is certainly a factor, but when narrowing down those choices, price is likely to be the deciding factor.
And so we come to the final question: What can a shop owner say on his or her website that will bring in the prospect looking for price and speed of service? The offer has to be credible, so some sort of guarantee must be included. “Lowest price” generally means nothing. An offer of a percentage discount is also useless. These days people automatically assume the product or service has been marked up another ten percent before that percentage is deducted. One effective approach might be to mention that insurance companies always demand a parts and labor discount. The website could promise the customer he or she will receive the same discount the shop offers insurance partners.
Speed of service is a trickier proposition. I’ve visited shops that publicize a turn-around time based on the price of the job: Under $500, 24-hour service; under $1000 two-day service, etc. One shop offered to reduce the price of repair by a percentage for each day they exceeded the estimated time. Another offered some sort of rebate if the job wasn’t completed on time. A shop owner might not want to offer these terms to anyone other than a prospect on the web. But given the reasons prospects surf the web, this focus on price and speed are most likely to bring the prospect in the door.