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Thursday, 24 February 2011 17:30

‘Consistency’ May be Boring—But It’s Also Profitable

Written by Tom Franklin

As we get rolling in this New Year, we see a multitude of new ways to market the shop: A website, e-mail, Facebook and other social media sites, like Twitter. Should we ignore these new ways to reach potential customers? Certainly not, but there can be a tendency to discard tried and true ways when we jump on the bandwagon for the new ones. And that can be a serious mistake.

Customers who have been coming to your shop for years may now be getting a bit older. And they may not all share the younger generation’s enthusiasm for these new approaches to communication and media. If they have kept coming back, they must have liked whatever it was you were doing to stay in touch with them. You may not know immediately what that was that pleased them, but of course you can always ask. You can also be fairly certain that they are like consumers of other services. There are some standards that never change.

What Keeps Customers Coming Back?
As I noted in an article more than ten years ago, if there’s one thing that customers value in a business, it’s consistency. We go back to the same restaurant, the same hair-dresser, the same mechanic over and over because we come to know what to expect of them. We know the level of service we’ll receive for the price we expect to pay. When a place changes hands, we dread the changes we’ll probably encounter. The menu we enjoyed suddenly no longer has the choice items we preferred. The barber or hair-dresser we liked best has moved on because he or she didn’t get along with the new owner. And the reputable mechanic we trusted to do an honest job on our car has been replaced by a fast-talking, slick sales type who wants to sell us unneeded extras. The consistency that we valued has gone and we must go in search of a new place that will service us in the manner we have come to expect.

Chances are that you can deliver consistency. You’ve been there a long time. You’ve built a good customer base. They know what to expect from you. All you have to do is make certain That you don’t change what your clients or customers value most, and that you let them know that, in a world of fleeting consistency, you are still here delivering the same predictable message and quality you always have!

Consistency: Promoting Your Business
Think about the advertising power of the consistency of major brands. How long have we heard “You’re in Good Hands With Allstate” or “BMW, The Ultimate Driving Machine?” Even though the specific ad may change, these consistent messages are always present.

What is your consistent message? Do you have one? Shops that have been in business a long time are wise to capitalize on that longevity in their advertising and promotion. A line that says “Quality Collision Repair Since 1981” tells a customer at a glance that you have survived in business for 30 years. The clear implication is that you must have been doing something right to be around that long. If you are relatively new in business, it’s still probable that you have been somewhere in the industry for a while. You may be able to use a line like: “Service by professionals with more than 20 years of experience.” If you have survived in this industry for any length of time, you must have some element of consistency in how you approach collision repair. That consistency may be the most valuable commodity you have to sell. Now is the time to capitalize on it in your advertising and promotion!


More Than One Way To Communicate Consistency
I was startled, one day, when I walked into an auto body shop office in an outlying area. The walls were completely covered with photos of before and after repair jobs. It would have taken hours to examine the multitude of before and after photos this shop owner had accumulated over the years. While it’s unlikely there would be many shop owners who would adopt this approach to displaying proof of consistency in repair, it is a sound idea to somehow convey the enormous number of quality repairs that a shop has done.

This is the idea behind the message that McDonald’s “has served more than five hundred million hamburgers.” Publicizing a long history of high volume seems to convey a message of consistency although it may not necessarily be true. That wall covered with photos was one effective way to communicate that consistency. That same shop owner gives the customer a before and after photo when the job is finished as a reminder of the quality of work that has been provided.

Some shops have a photo album in the waiting area with before and after photos. One shop I visited had an album filled with impressive letters from satisfied customers who owned a BMW, a Porsche, a Mercedes Benz, a Lamborghini or a Rolls-Royce. The unspoken but obvious message was “we do a consistent, superior job on the ultimate in high-end cars.”

Your website, e-mail, Facebook page and Twitter feed can also be used to communicate your consistency without neglecting to emphasize your new qualities and awareness of the new communication tools we have at hand.

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