A common question we get when working with our clients is “What can we do to attract high-end clients who will spend money and actually take care of their cars?”

This isn’t one of those questions I can answer with a “do this thing, and this will happen” kind of answer. Attracting high-end clients requires changing everything. It’s a mindset. It’s an aura. High-end clients can see through a facade. You have to be a shop that caters to the high-end in every way. You have to become one of them.

Let’s look at some of the things that need to happen to attract these customers.

You Have To Understand The Way High End Clients Think 

A study was done that showed the difference between the poor, middle-class, and wealthy. It examined what was important to them when it came to a meal. When each group was allowed to serve a meal to guests, they wanted to know the following:

The poor would ask, “Did you get enough to eat?”

The middle-class would ask, “Did everything taste good?”

The wealthy would ask, “How does everything look?”

To the poor, the thing that mattered the most was the amount of food. The middle-class was concerned about the quality. The wealthy were concerned with appearance.

So how does this translate into marketing your auto repair shop? You want to focus on the upper-middle-class and the wealthy if you want customers who have money to spend on their car and are willing to keep it in top condition. This should tell you that you need to focus on quality and appearance.

Focus on Quality 

Whereas many shops tend to market by offering specials and discounts, the upper-middle-class and the wealthy are not attracted to “deals.” The upper-middle-class want quality. The things that are important to them are dependability, longevity, and safety.

I am personally upper-middle-class, and this fits me perfectly. I’m the kind of person that wants to buy something once and have it last me a lifetime (or, at least, a long time). For example, I was recently in the market for a side-by-side UTV. At the time of this writing, we’re in the second pandemic wave, and there is no inventory available. I would typically go straight to a brand name like Honda, but there were none available. I was looking at some Chinese brands and even an American-made brand, but I knew that none of what I was looking at was as good as a Honda. It was driving me nuts because I needed the side-by-side to take care of my property, but I didn’t want to buy what was, in my mind, a sub-par brand. I ended up getting a Honda that someone had ordered and then backed out of at the last minute. It was a lucky find.

But had I purchased one of the other brands I was looking at; it would have occupied way too much space in my mind that I hadn’t bought the best product available.

I own a Honda side-by-side. I own a Kubota tractor. I own a Stihl chainsaw. I own a Scag lawnmower. I buy the best products I can. It’s what I do because quality is the most important thing to me. I am your typical upper-middle-class consumer.

When marketing to the upper-middle-class, you need to focus on things like brand names, warranties, and the precision craftsmanship put forth by your technicians. You should focus on safety and intelligent buying decisions. These are the things that matter to the upper-middle-class.

Focus on Appearance 

When trying to attract the wealthy, you need to focus on appearance. You may need some help with this one.

  • What’s in your parking lot? Is it the types of cars you want to work on? Keep the beaters and project cars out of sight. Put the types of vehicles you want to work on front and center.
  • What does your shop look like? Maybe it’s time to invest in the epoxy or tile floor.
  • What does your waiting area look like? Is it auto repair chic, or does it have a high-end feel? Clean isn’t good enough!
  • How are your service advisors dressed? Those polos may look great to most, but dress shirts and ties are more the styles of the wealthy.
  • What does your website look like? We know you like race cars and checkered flags. Most of the wealthy don’t – and they certainly don’t do old and outdated.
  • What does your invoice look like? Printing on custom-designed paper with a color header, footer, or watermark makes an impression.

These things may seem petty to you, but if it does, you’ve failed to adopt the mindset – because it ALL matters.

Adopt A Concierge Mentality 

Most people who are upper-middle-class or wealthy didn’t get there by accident. In their world, time is money. Anything you can do to make their lives easier will help you create a raving fan of your business. When well-off people speak, people listen. So when you take such good care of your clients that they start recommending you to their friends, you’ll start getting more people like them who trust you before they ever meet you.

What are some of the things you can do to create that concierge feeling in your shop?

Go a step further in everything you do. 

  • Hold the door open as they walk into the shop
  • When you set the tire pressure, check the spare tire too (and tell them you did it). 
  • Wash and vacuum the car.
  • Offer pick up, drop off, and fill their tank before dropping it off (add the fuel cost to the invoice).
  • Leave a hand-written thank-you note in the car.
  • If they pick up the car from the shop, start the car and pull it up to the door so the a/c or heat can get working as they pay their bill.
  • If they’re waiting, don’t just point to the coffee machine – fix their coffee for them.

Again, this is a mentality. It’s not a task list. If you try to fake it, it won’t work.

If You Want These Clients, Become The Shop Owner You Need To Become

Serving high-end clients can completely change your business for the better. Just remember, it all starts with you. You have to set the expectations with your staff and permit them to do what they need to serve these clients the way they want to be served.

Just a side note, this stuff isn’t theory or pandering. We personally did this in our shop, Peak Automotive. We went from a junked-up shop working for cheap customers to being the shop that all of the discerning car owners in our area went to. We more than quadrupled our average repair order when we did this. It was life-changing.

If you need help marketing to higher-end clients, that’s what we’re here for. Schedule a call with J.R. and learn what it’s like to work with us.

About The Author

Brian Walker

Brian Walker is the Owner and CEO of Shop Marketing Pros, a marketing agency specializing in marketing independently owned auto repair shops. Brian is a Mercedes Benz Master Technician and has owned multiple shops and served as the Mechanical Division Director for ASA-NC.

He's a mechanic at heart who loves fixing things that are broken, which is why he loves marketing so much.

"Digging in and figuring out why a business' marketing isn't working is a lot like it was when he was elbows deep into a car that no one else could fix. When you figure it out, there's nothing else like it."

To get to do this for auto repair shop owners combines his passions, and he couldn't be more excited about helping shop owners.
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