NARPRO goes national to bring more power to independent shops.

Jan. 1, 2020
Building a solid customer base today means drawing in non-coupon shoppers. You want the customers who are looking for a long-term relationship with their automotive professional and who understand the need to invest money in vehicle maintenance and r
Building a solid customer base today means drawing in non-coupon shoppers. You want the customers who are looking for a long-term relationship with their automotive professional and who understand the need to invest money in vehicle maintenance and repair.

NARPRO, the Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals Network, is expanding its reach across the country to help consumers and quality auto repair shops pair together. The organization has been in place in Phoenix for six years, and leaders say they’re ready to pair together these solid customers with quality independent shops nationwide.

Alan Tarr, NARPRO executive director, says the group’s mission is to help the consumer more easily find honest, reputable repair people in the auto repair business and in the collision repair area.

“We want to work with independent, normally family owned, small neighborhood shops that are the kind of shops that you know who they are,” says General Manager Jay Jennings. “They’re the kind of people that once you find them, you’re going to keep them, because they’re honest. They realize how important each customer is, because they’re a referral source for their business.”

Garnering these customers starts with review processes in which both the consumers and owners participate, and also feature other group marketing efforts.

A Unique Review

One of the biggest benefits NARPRO offers member shops is an interactive review process. Jennings says they always have had “a jaundiced eye” of reviews, explaining that you don’t know exactly who is reviewing a business. That changes for NARPRO members.

 

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Consumers will be able to check out shops in a unique, full-circle review process. Jennings explains that shop customers will review shops on a scale of one to 10. One question is asked how likely would you refer this shop to a friend or a colleague, 10 being very likely, one being not likely and five being neutral.

The difference from other, anonymous reviews is that NARPRO representatives will confirm that the customer truly is a client of that shop. Shop owners then will have a chance to respond to the reviews. For example, if someone has a problem with a shop and gives the business a poor review, the owner will be able to contact that customer to work out a resolution.

The customer then can re-review the shop, with the owner adding information on how the complaint was resolved as well.

“It’s a way of showing a consumer that doesn’t know anything about the shop to see how the shop operates and how they resolve problems,” Jennings says. “Frankly, the consumers we’re looking for are not the coupon clippers. They’re the people looking for long-term relationships and they just want to see how these people handle the problems, because nobody’s perfect.”

Advertising to the Masses?

Tarr says one of the other benefits NARPRO provides its members is assistance in advertising. A group of shops can better target potential customers better than individual independent shops.

“For example, if we put a radio ad on and no matter how bad I want to come to your shop, if I’m 30 miles away, I’m not going to do it,” he offers. But by working with a group for advertising purposes, smaller areas to draw upon are better utilized.

 

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Jennings adds, “We’re trying to create a cooperative marketing association to pool their monies and be able to do some advertising that they would not be able to afford on their own. Our three pillars of advertising are radio, Internet presence, which is paid search and search engine optimization and social media marketing, and then public relations. Those are all things that they can attempt and try to do, but really when you put it all together, there’s much more power in numbers.”

Joining Up

Becoming a member means proving your shop is a quality operation. Upon applying for membership, shops are evaluated on 26 areas of quality, integrity and customer satisfaction. Franchise representatives visit the shops multiple times and check shops’ ratings, including credit and with the Better Business Bureau.

One unique aspect of the application process, Tarr explains, is that NARPRO contacts the shop’s 100 most recent clients. NARPRO representatives poll these clients on their experiences, including if they would recommend the shop to others. If the score is 95 percent or better, then they can become members.

Shops pay on average $400 per month to be a part of NARPRO. Costs do vary based on location. Membership is on a month-to-month basis, with either side able to terminate the relationship at any point. The shop’s status is reviewed regularly, with the system’s unique review structure taken into account.

“In the six years we’ve been doing this in Phoenix, we’ve actually had to fire four shops from the network for not continuing to meet our standards,” Tarr says. “They have not replaced Master Techs or their highly skilled ASE certified techs with a like technician. They’re no longer meeting the standards, so they have to be off the network, which is why we have only a 30-day agreement with our shops. They can get off anytime they’re unhappy and we have the same ability to take a shop off the network who’s not performing.”

After NARPRO accepts a shop, it is added to the website listing. Jennings is quick to point out that the site is not a listing service, and consumers will see only NARPRO member shops in any given area. However, they want to make sure these consumers have multiple shops to choose from to find what suits their needs best.

 

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“Shops are not at the top of the list because they pay more like the Yellow Page listings you’ll see online,” he notes. “They’re at the top of the list because they’re closest to that client and/or because they have specific skill sets that that particular consumer is looking for, like I have a Porsche and I want to go to a Porsche specialist.

Boosting Business

In the end, NARPRO is working with these shops to help build their business and the industry’s reputation among the motoring public.

“The albatross around the industry’s neck is that these shops are going to take advantage of you. They’re going to do things that are not authorized,” Jennings states. “They’re going to do repairs that weren’t suggested or they’re going to charge for things they didn’t do. There’s such a challenge that we’re seeing with the industry among consumers that they think they’re going to be ripped off.”

He adds that with the research NARPRO has completed, customers can be assured they will receive quality repair. He says this helps customers find shops with honest owners and employees, thus increasing the professionalism of the industry.

“Read what real customers are saying about these shops. They are real reviews by real customers. See how the shops responds,” he says. “Do your research, but we’ve also done some things that hopefully you can trust that are a lot deeper than what you’d be able to do as a consumer.”

To get involved with NARPRO, visit www.narpro.com or call 602-716-0500 or 888- NARPRO1. The group also has franchise opportunities available. These people would be in charge of territories, going to and checking up on current shops making sure they still comply with NARPRO guidelines as well as working with prospective members. More information on these opportunities also is available by contacting /div>

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