A while back I had the opportunity to interview over forty people for a panel of customers. My intent was to discover what drives their decisions in choosing an auto service facility, how they make their purchasing decisions, and the follow up they would like to see. In many cases I spent well over an hour with each of these prospective panelists, so I had the opportunity of learning many amazing things about automotive repair marketing. Here is one of the most valuable insights I was able to take away from these interviews....
Regardless of the length of time the people I interviewed had been patronizing the same independent repair facility, one of the questions I asked each of them was, "If the service advisor told you that you needed a complete transmission or an engine, would you authorize repair?" The overwhelming majority of the people I interviewed said that before they would authorize such an expensive repair, they would first contact the dealership or a transmission shop. When I asked why, the standard response was "Bob, you have to understand a transmission or an engine can be pretty complicated, so I'd want talk to an expert first."
I came to a number of conclusions after speaking with all of these customers. First of all, most independent repair shops are not doing a good enough job of educating their customers on their level of competency and skill. Secondly, your customers are no different than you when it comes to looking for expert advice. Look at it like this... Imagine you have been going to the same doctor for years, and have a tremendous amount of faith in that doctor. Then imagine that doctor told you that you had a problem with your lower back. Even though your doctor may be very well-skilled with lower back problems, and possibly even better skilled than many orthopedic surgeons, I suspect you'd still feel more comfortable speaking with an orthopedic surgeon. Why? Because they're viewed as the "experts." Ironically, your customers are no different. If you have a general auto repair shop, they'll look at you as their friendly family doctor-good for most things, but not necessarily the expert.
The "expert" perception plays a huge role in how brake shops are able to generate new customers. You might think they attract customers by offering low-priced brake services, but in reality that's not the case. The reason they are continually able to bring in customers is because the motoring public perceives them to be what they are looking for: the brake experts.
So here's my suggestion to you: if you want to build a more profitable, successful business, then one of the things you'll need to do is brand yourself as the "expert" in every way that you can. Those of you that have specialty shops, such as transmission shops, brake shops, etc., should incorporate the word "expert" in all of your automotive repair marketing campaigns. Those of you who have general auto repair facilities should use terms such as "The SUV experts," "Toyota experts," etc. Your customers are looking for an expert for all aspects of their lives. When it comes to auto repair and service, make sure they know in clear terms, it's you.