The two-day 2023 FenderBender Management Conference wrapped up Sept. 26 after another successful event. Held at the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center, this year's conference, with the theme "Educate & Elevate," was a great opportunity for attendees to network, learn strategies they could apply to their business in 20 sessions led by fellow shop owners and industry leaders, and see engaging, energetic presentations from industry stars such as Mike Anderson of Collision Advice and Mike Jones of Discover Leadership.
Anderson closed out the second day with his keynote telling attendees how to “Be Extraordinary.”
Collision repairers need to be mindful of a changing repair landscape that increasingly includes technology, he reminded attendees. It's one reason why OEM repair networks can benefit the shop, but owners and managers must use the tools available to them to promote to the consumer the advantages of an OEM-certification program.
There are a number of reasons why an OEM-certified shop is increasingly where a damaged vehicle is first taken, Anderson noted, including vehicle ownership subscriptions that offer the driver the ability to change vehicles during the lease. Consumers, accustomed to wanting the latest and greatest technology on their phones, would like to be able to relatively easily exchange a convertible for top-down fun in the sun for a four-wheel-drive pickup to go camping on the weekend.
“Many shops have the expectation that getting certified automatically brings cars through the door,” Anderson said, but the truth is the shop needs to make sure the customer knows, through marketing or the first phone call to the shop’s customer service representative, that it’s an OEM-certified shop and the best place to take their vehicle. “People are more afraid of making a wrong decision than they are of spending money. Be extraordinary with building a relationship with the vehicle owner.”
How do you answer the phone? Do you mention your OEM certifications? Anderson said as part of recent training, he mystery-called 176 certified body shops, and only one mentioned them.
If the first point of contact at the shop can earn the customer’s trust, it can put them more at ease and also prepare them if there may be a “co-pay” required to properly repair the vehicle with parts or procedures not covered by the customer’s insurer. The goal is to make the caller feel less stressed, less anxious, and less confused, he said. This requires more time on the front-end to educate the customer.
“White-glove concierge service is what consumers are looking for,” Anderson said, noting that as vehicles have added more comfort and safety features to check, the expectation is higher of the quality of repairs.
Offer social proof
Customers often rely more on social proof, or positive online reviews, than a recommendation from even a trusted relative or friend.
“It’s why you want to drive online reviews now,” Anderson said, “and Podium is the best company to help you drive online reviews.”
Be mindful of the need to place the vehicle in service mode
As more vehicles become connected to the internet, it is changing out repair plans are done, Anderson said, pointing out in one year, the number of connected Toyota vehicles went from one million to 20 million. These vehicles alert their owner through an email or text message that their vehicle has a service or repair need. So, if a shop should start repairing the vehicle and unplugging various sensors and components, the customer will get a notification for each fault, which erodes trust in the shop. To avoid this, check the OEM repair procedures for how to place the vehicle in service mode.
Be extraordinary at OEM research
Anderson said he’s found that the more thorough is the repair plan, the higher percentage are the approvals for virtual estimates. Use plenty of line notes and photos to “tell a story” of why the repair procedures are necessary and justified.
“When you submit them online, pretend you’re going through an IRS audit,” he said.