Utilizing Your CRM for Your Auto Repair Shop’s Success

When it comes to operating your auto repair shop with ease, a good shop management software is imperative. It will keep track of your invoices, customers, vehicles, and repair orders. When it comes to keeping in touch with your existing customers and getting feedback from them to keep them coming back, a trusted CRM is imperative. Your CRM is your Customer Retention Management software and its job is to help make your customers raving fans.

Obviously, there’s more to making a customer a raving fan of your shop than just sending them a follow-up message, but how you craft that message paired with their experience in the shop can keep them coming back.

How Does a Customer Retention Management System Work?

Most CRMs integrate or pair with your shop software to exchange information. This means that when your shop software is up to date with a customer’s last visit and contact information, you can keep in touch with them easily and effectively with your CRM. Some shop softwares have the capability to send messages but are still limited when it comes to offering the full scope of a CRM. With your CRM, you can send appointment reminders, follow-up messages, review requests, messages to “lost” customers, slow-day text blasts, and more. Most of these messages are automated, but our Pro Tip is to edit the content so it actually sounds like your shop!

Finding the Right Customer Retention Management System for Your Shop

When looking for the right customer retention management system for your auto repair shop, there are a few items that should be on your must-have list:
Your software won’t be helpful to you if you’re having trouble navigating the basics of the system. Plus, there may be another member of your team handling your account and there shouldn’t be any confusion about how to use your CRM to reach your goals.
When sending messages from a third-party platform, deliverability isn’t always at 100%. When you’re researching which CRM is best for your shop, be sure to ask about the deliverability rate of text messages and emails. A great question to ask your provider is whether or not the data shown is in “real time” so you know if you’re looking at current or previous data.
You invest in educated, respectful, and helpful service advisors for your auto repair shop, right? It’s helpful to your bottom line and it’s great for keeping your customers happy and informed about their vehicle. Your CRM should have the same. Most platforms provide a dedicated account manager to assist you with any help, optimization, and set up, so be sure that you’re picking a platform that will suit your needs. One important feature is whether or not the platform provides ongoing training and support for a growing shop or marketing team.

How to Use Your CRM

While some CRM softwares can integrate with your digital advertisements, the goal of your CRM exists in its title: customer retention. We talk a lot about the difference between acquisition marketing and retention marketing, and this topic is all about retention. Retention marketing strategies are the touches that occur to keep a customer a customer. It’s everything that happens from the point they book their first service with your auto repair shop to the days following their vehicle pick up. There are plenty of message options available that are automated in your CRM, but the following are the keys to having a basic retention strategy:

01   APPOINTMENT REMINDERS
When sent out 24 hours before an appointment and requesting a confirmation, these messages help ensure that your customer is going to show up and your books and bays will stay as full as planned.
02   APPOINTMENT FOLLOW-UPS
Follow-ups can consist of a series of messages or variety based on the number of appointments a customer has had with your shop.

For example, after someone’s first experience, you may want to send an open ended question to ask how everything went.

This allows for easy communication and usually provides a space for feedback to be given if needed.
03   REVIEW REQUESTS
Review requests are another example of an appointment follow-up message.

Once someone has had a few appointments at your shop, you can send them a review request.

If they’ve chosen to visit the shop three or more times, they are in a good space to know, like, and trust you, and can leave a thorough review.
04   LOST CUSTOMER OUTREACH
On average, most cars need maintenance every few months depending on how they are driven. Setting up a campaign that will follow up with a customer after 6 months with no appointment at your shop can remind them that you exist and that you’re available to service their vehicle.
We also took time to ask a few CRM companies for their best tips and tricks when using a CRM in your auto repair shop.

Justin Jackson, Mechanic Advisor’s Senior Director of Marketing, suggested also including deferred work reminders:

Provide your customers with friendly reminders when they are due for a
routine service and/or have a pending declined service.
The Mechanic Advisor team added that website chats are a great feature to look for, and sending a mailer to welcome or thank a new customer is a great way to start the retention process.

AutoFlow VP of Marketing Jeremy Glassco’s number one tip was,

If you had to choose either
a) an automated drip marketing campaign running behind the scenes
or
b) a mass message blast, we would strongly recommend that you take
the time to get the automation set up first.
He added
That way you can set it and forget it, knowing that you have a customer
follow-up in place with messages that will be timely, personal, and
segmented with a specific call-to-action for the customer.

With these tools, your customers have easy access to contact you and you are staying top-of-mind by following up with them, especially for reviews and feedback. As a shop owner, you must understand the importance of customer reviews and how they can impact your business. Having positive reviews from customers on Google and Yelp can help boost your online presence, increase trust in your brand, and attract more customers. Automation is key when it comes to getting more customer reviews because it makes the process easier for both your shop and your customers. It often takes several “asks” to encourage customers to leave a review, but the beauty of your CRM is that it can automate the process.

The unsung hero of your CRM is the benefit of using it when your bays may not be as full as you’d like. If your CRM and your shop software system are up to date, you can likely send out what we call a “slow-day text blast” to any customers who haven’t been to the shop in a while. Slow-day text blasts are a great solution for auto repair shops looking to increase customer engagement and sales. With text blasts, you can segment your customers to see which groups are more likely to respond and take action. You can also filter by money spent, new or existing customers (by visit), and other criteria to ensure that you’re targeting the right audience. Additionally, relying on your marketing team to help guide you in creating the best message for your campaign will ensure that your message is effective and reaches the desired audience. While this won’t fill all of your slots, it’s a good way to get a few extra appointments on the books and cars in the bays.

One of the most important aspects of making your CRM successful is making sure it’s working for you. This means understanding the platform and using it to the best of its abilities, but also personalizing your campaigns so that your customers want to open and answer these messages. If you know anything about us, you know that we’re big on your customers knowing, liking, and trusting you. Many shop owners may be quick to turn on the campaigns in their CRM without looking too closely at them. If your campaigns sound like they come from a computer, your customers are not being engaged with authentically. Take the time to view which messages are running and edit them so they sound like you or your service advisors. Customizing these messages as well as segmenting them by last visit date, ARO, or vehicle brand can further personalize your campaigns and improve your response and retention rates. A/B testing on your text messages is a great way to determine what sort of content and calls to action that your clients respond best to.

When we get a new client, one of the first things we ask is what their process looks like when bringing a new customer into their auto repair business. Incorporating a retention marketing plan with your CRM brings your process to the next level in brand building, reputation management, and creating raving fans out of your customers! Retention marketing paired with great customer service is key to keeping your customers coming back. While your CRM may have a dedicated representative for your account, we also suggest reaching out to your marketing team to make sure that your messaging is consistent with your other marketing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caroline Legrand

Our Senior Messaging Strategist Caroline is responsible for maintaining and implementing knowledge of social media and email marketing platforms and best practices as well as reviewing content to ensure that it meets our client’s brands and standards. As the lead of our messaging team, she understands every unique shop we work with and she collaborates with the digital marketing strategists to provide customized content for social media and email marketing. Caroline’s Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies provides her with the skills needed to help our staff and our shops connect, build, and maintain relationships with current and potential customers.
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