What can I do to increase my shop’s work referrals from dealerships?
Kevin Rains, owner of Center City Collision in Cincinnati, Ohio
Dealerships know that body shops are not the profit centers that they once were. Dealerships are realizing they can make more money by getting rid of their body shops and expanding their service departments. That opens a huge opportunity for collision shops to partner with dealerships to acquire more job referrals.
1. Establish relationships with the people who answer the phones at the dealership. Those are typically the people who offer shop referrals, so it’s important for them to know, like and trust you.
2. Make the dealership remember you. Conduct several routine follow-up visits following your initial introduction. Provide them with simple items that are branded with your name, logo, website and phone number, including pens and coffee mugs.
3. Be an advocate for the dealership and help improve the company’s reputation on the Internet. For example, review the dealership’s service department on review websites such as Yelp.com or Google.
4. Use social media channels to interact and engage with the dealership and its employees. Connect with the dealership owner and service department manager on LinkedIn. Look for common areas of interest to interact with them as people rather than marketing targets.
5. Match your level of service. Dealerships want to be confident that the customers they refer to your shop will receive priority treatment. Your shop should have the same standards as the dealership in terms of customer service. Show in your conversations that you can deliver the same level of professionalism and service.
6. Apply to be a certified shop for the particular dealership you want to partner with. That could be a longer term project, but it shows dealerships exactly what they want to see—that you’re committed to their standards and you plan to be around for the long haul.