How many times do you have a friend ask you, “Hey, who do you use for _________?” Whatever the service, people like to know what companies their friends and family are using and their experiences with them. I mean, how else can you find someone you trust with your air conditioner, home repair, or beloved pet? Auto repair has a rough reputation in a lot of circles, so it is one of those services people often ask their friends or family about before choosing a mechanic. Referrals from your existing customers is an effective marketing tactic that can help grow your business. In fact, recommendations from friends remain the most credible form of advertising among consumers, with people being 4 times more likely to purchase a product or service when a friend has something positive to say. And on the flip side, they are just as likely to avoid a company if their friends aren’t impressed. Customers who have good experiences are usually more than willing to give out a referral for a business. Your job is to make sure you’re doing all the right things that encourages them to do so. To make it easier, here are 3 suggestions to get you started:
1. Give Them Something (Good) to Talk AboutAssuming that you’re able to fix the vehicle, most people will remember their overall experience throughout the process. But there could be one thing that really sticks out in their minds. That’s what they’re going to talk about when talking to their friends and giving out referrals. Here are some of the most important “details” of an auto repair shop experience that you should evaluate at your own place:
- Have a friendly front desk person who will be your intake for customers.
- Treat every customer respectfully, even if they don’t have much knowledge of how their car works.
- Have a clean waiting area. And free snacks never hurt!
- Do what you say you’ll do. If you said you’ll call back in an hour with more information, then make it a priority to fulfill your promise. Communication is one of the most important areas to build trust and positive experience, even when the news is not good.
- Return the car in better condition than they left it with you. If you can get the car washed before returning, do that. And never leave the oily, paper floor mats in the car for your customer to throw out, or change their radio station. Your first and last impression can really make a difference for a customer’s attitude.
2. Make It Super Easy for Customers to Give ReferralsIf your customers don’t know that you want referrals then it’s likely you’ll miss out on getting them. To keep that from happening, make it really easy for them to refer you. Here’s a few ways you can do this:
- Provide links in your customer emails to the review sites where you’d like to get more reviews.
- Add links to your website that will direct your customers to the review sites on which you appear where they can read reviews and give one of their own.
- Give out extra business cards or another small, inexpensive promotional item (magnet, pens, etc.) so it’s easier for customers to remember and you and pass your information along to someone else.
- Ask them directly, emphasizing on how much you’d appreciate them recommending you to a friend, posting a review on your Facebook page, or on review sites like Yelp.