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Publisher Scott Shriber writes that in today’s competitive environment, it’s imperative that we communicate with both past and potential customers.
As you may or may not know, in addition to being the publisher of BodyShop Business, I’m also the publisher of Counterman, which reaches the distribution side of the automotive aftermarket and is read by over 126,000 professionals a month. Consequently, I regularly find myself at automotive events that are not necessarily collision-related. This is actually a good thing because it forces me to stay up on both sides of the automotive repair business. We have some things to learn from the service end, and they could learn a lot from the collision side of the repair business.
I wrote this particular column in my hotel room in Las Vegas at one such non-collision event last month. Earlier that day, I had the pleasure of sitting with one of my repair industry colleagues whom I have tremendous respect for due to his longevity in the business and his understanding of its inner workings. He’s a car hobbyist and a former technician and holds a significant job in the automotive aftermarket. We were talking about the industry, and he caught wind of my duties here at BodyShop Business. He listened to me explain some of the issues in the collision world, and I could tell he was eager to say something.
I learned a long time ago that it’s always better to listen in these situations because, if your lips are moving, you’re not learning anything. My colleague (who we’ll call Dave) proceeded to tell me how he had just purchased a new Honda product. He likes his new wheels and, being a car guy, takes care of his cars. As luck would have it, he found himself in a close encounter with a mailbox, and the rest is history. Of course, the mailbox won, and blaming his wife for the incident wasn’t going to work.
Since the vehicle was literally days old, he chose to have it repaired at the dealer he bought it from. He was surprised, however, when his dealer told him they didn’t have a collision repair facility. In fact, out of the 25 franchises that this dealer owns, none of them have a collision repair facility. This surprised Dave, but it was less of a surprise to me as I’m familiar with all the regulatory issues and why so many dealers have exited the collision business.
What bothered me most about this story was that it was evident that some high quality collision repair shop had missed the boat and not already communicated with Dave prior to this accident. If there were 25 franchises in this market without a shop, why hadn’t an ambitious body shop, at a bare minimum, connected with this dealer for a referral program? Better yet, why hadn’t Dave heard of a good shop in his market?
My point here is that there are more ways for us to communicate with customers today than ever, many of which are free. In our competitive environment, it’s imperative that we get our message out there. You need to talk with past customers and make sure you’re trying to communicate with new ones. Everybody will need us someday, and it’s important that they think of you when the time comes. There is no such thing as communicating with your existing customers too much. Even if they never need you again, they’ll know someone who does.
So, like the title of this column infers, make sure it’s because they aren’t listening, not because we’re not talking. Thanks for the reminder, Dave.