How to Profit from Your Investment
Two years ago at an event in California, I spoke to a group of shops on behalf of Honda. These folks were heavily invested in the Honda/Acura shop certification program. They had the training, the equipment, the certification—and weren’t seeing a whole lot of results yet.
Fast forward two years … and I see the same things.
I hear it often: People have spent the money, and they haven’t noticed an uptick in business from it. Well, my friends, don’t get discouraged. There are several, very simple solutions for you to drive vehicles to your shop based on your OEM certifications. (And, really, a lot of these can apply to any investment you’ve made in training or equipment in your facility. If you haven’t made the leap to certifications, don’t ignore these tips!)
1. Make an announcement.
This might sound too obvious to even write in this space, but please listen: If you do something great in your facility, you need to let people know about it. With OEM certifications, make an announcement. Write a press release for the local newspaper. Reach out to dealerships in your area. Let all the insurance carriers know.
With the dealerships and insurance carriers, let them know the equipment you have, the training you’ve done and how your team is now set up to handle these repairs properly. With consumer-facing messages, like press releases, educate on what this means and why it’s important. Take it a step further, and go through your email database in your management system. Find all the vehicles that fall under those certifications and send a message to those past customers. Don’t just sit on this big news and expect things to change. Let people know.
2. Put up a sign.
No, really, it’s that simple. Make it visibly clear to people driving by or to someone in your lobby exactly what your credentials are. One small warning here: Proceed with caution as OEMs have very strict guidelines with how you can use their logos. They have specific fonts and colors—you need to verify with the OEM to see what you can use in marketing materials. Many will have links on their websites that you can download to use. Don’t modify without checking first.
And check with the OEM to see if it has any options for marketing materials. Some will offer free consumer-facing brochures. Honda does, yet at that presentation I mentioned from two years ago, only 16 shops were using them. Sixteen. That’s a huge opportunity missed.
3. Get engaged.
This might be the simplest item on the list. Go to the website motionu.com; it’s the largest listing of car clubs and auto events in North America. Search your area, and search for the makes that align with your certification. Find them, reach out to them, see how you can get involved. Maybe you went through the FCA program; go online and find a Dodge Viper car club, or a MOPAR club and invite them to an open house at your shop. Have them come in, have some food and drinks and things, and then give them a tour. Show them what separates a shop that’s certified from a shop that isn’t. Point out the equipment and what it does—and why it’s crucial that you made the investment. Do live demos on how to repair dents or metal corrosion. Show the difference between aftermarket and OEM parts. Let them see a car get painted. Maybe even offer touch-up kits. You can reach out to the OEM and see if they’ll offer some prizes. Do drawings and then you’ll be able to collect information from the people who came in. These events and making these connections can be invaluable.
4. Utilize CSI scores.
And I don’t mean simply showcasing your CSI scores in marketing materials. You can go deeper than that. Let’s say you’re Toyota certified and you want to market to Toyota shops. Go into your management system and filter it by make. You can get your CSI score just on Toyota jobs. Then, in a promotion to Toyota owners, you can tell them, we’ve repaired X number of Toyotas and average 98 percent satisfaction on those vehicles. You have the data sitting there. Use it.
5. Get on OEM shop locators.
You shouldn’t need me to tell you this, but I’ve spoken to a number of people who were concerned about vehicle owners finding their certified shops and when I asked if they were listed on the OEM shop locater sites, it turned out they were not. Check. Double-check. Make sure you are actually a part of the listings that you were promised.
6. Make it prominent (and detailed) on your own site.
So, back to that seminar a couple years ago, and here’s another startling fact that came out of it: Just 41 percent of those shops even mentioned the certification on their websites. From what I’ve gathered in my conversations with folks, that hasn’t changed much. This is a simple fix: Put it on your website. But don’t just throw a logo on there; educate the vehicle owner who visits the site. Just like those promotional materials mentioned before, let them know the value your shop provides by having this designation. Talk to your web developer today and get this put on there.
None of this is very complicated, my friends, and you know what? That’s what makes it great. All of you can do these things right away, and start seeing the benefits. Certifications aren’t a magic cure for business issues, and they aren’t a funnel for more work. It still requires a marketing push, and it still requires you to win over your potential customers. Start today.