Think Like a Customer
Some people are just accident prone, says Mandy Beroza, who is the general manager and oversees operations and marketing at Auto Body Xperts.
“We had people that came in multiple times and would say things like, ‘If only we could get frequent flier miles,’” she says. “That got me thinking.”
By approaching marketing with a “think-like-the-customer” mentality, Beroza has been able to implement a number of successful marketing techniques, including community-thrown events, a scavenger hunt and its Xpert Rewards Program. The MSO has had its rewards program since 2013 and uses it as customer retention tools, as well as a way to communicate between all of its locations.
Xpert Reward Member benefits include:
- Free car washes and details
- A special birthday gift
- Special email offers
- Early notification on special events and offers
Currently, Xpert has 6,900 active reward members. The rewards program is an online-based system that customers can log into to check their information. Each dollar that is spent at the shop earns 1 point, which can be traded in for a variety of prizes—some that are vehicle based and some that are just for fun, like gift cards. Upon signing up, each customer starts with 25 bonus points and then accrues the points as work is done on his or her vehicle. One rewards account covers an entire family, so if a father signs up for the program and his son gets in an accident with his own vehicle a year later, the son can use his father’s account and add on to the total points. The points are good at any of Xpert’s four locations in Michigan, so it doesn’t matter which shop customers visit.
By “thinking like the customer” and figuring out what’s important to them, Beroza has created a program that has helped retain customers and keep Xpert top of mind.
Our rewards program is a little different than others because it’s offered online. You can sign up on our website and as soon as you do, you get an automatic 25 points. If a customer comes in for the first time and gets repairs and doesn’t have it, we let them know the service is available and they can sign up and apply the points from that repair right away. We did it this way so our existing customer base could go in and sign up.
Once a customer is signed up, we send them their card. The card isn’t necessary, if they forget to bring it in we can use their phone number. Having that physical card is just to bring awareness to the shop. Marketing is all about being creative and getting your name out there.
It’s a communication tool for our customers and between our locations. Each customer gives their email address when they sign up, so it’s a way we can communicate and advertise specials with them. The way the data is stored, we can also attach notes about the customer that can only be seen by our other locations. For example, if there’s a difficult customer, we can make a note of that and the other locations will see.
It took me a while to get started on this. Once I knew I wanted to have a rewards program, I went around to local businesses that had them. I started digging to see how they got started and how they stored their information. We ended up designing our own program. Every location has access to the same information, which is how we’re able to communicate with it.
We offer different prizes at different point values. Some people save their points, others will use them right away. There’s a recycled bag that you can trade in for right away or you can save up for a vacuum interior or a paint touch up. You can also earn gift certificates for a dinner—it’s not all about your car.
I’m a mom, so I understand how far an interior cleaning can go. When I’m thinking about prizes, I try to think of something that would be beneficial to someone. We’re growing a bond with our customers through this program. One prize that we offer is a free weekend rental through our Enterprise partners.
Sometimes we’ll identify services that aren’t being utilized and offer those for a certain amount of points. Headlight restorations are an example. A lot of people don’t even know what it is. So, we’ll send an email out and encourage those services through our rewards program.
With this system, we’re able to track our customers that are coming back and how often they’re using the rewards program. I don’t know if I’d say that it’s helped bring in new customers, but it’s helped to keep the customers that we have. The next time that a customer is in an accident, they’ll think of us. It’s all about name awareness. That’s all marketing really is—it’s just being creative and getting your name out there. There are no wrong ideas.