Here is a quick info-graphic guide for garage owners on how to save money running your beloved garages.
Customer service in the UK has received its lowest score since 2010, and although the motor trade was rated as the fourth highest sector, facing competition from the likes of tourism, retail and food retail, standards have gradually slipped over the last two and a half years and the bar needs to be raised back up again.
Customers are a vital part of any business; they bring the money in so keeping them happy is integral. The UK Customer Satisfaction Index, who perform the twice yearly study on customer happiness, found that 95% of highly satisfied customers are very likely to remain as customers. In stark comparison, only 5% of dissatisfied customers are very likely to return.
Out of 100 points the automotive sector received an average score of 78.6, which is down from 80.9 in 2013. Motor trade companies like Skoda have proved you can achieve great customer satisfaction in the motor trade, consistently being named in the 20 highest performing businesses in the UK with high scores between 82.9 and 85.7 since 2013.
In order to help keep customers satisfied and returning to your motor trade business, Think have collated some of the best advice from business experts and added a few tips from our own experience.
You may know how to sell cars, repair them or wash them, but do you know everything about your business? If you sell cars, get to know the market as a whole, know the specifications and prices of your competitors. On the other hand if you run a valet business find out if you can be offering your customers more services than just a car wash. Becoming an expert of your business will also help you field customer questions much more easily and give them confidence in your service.
Your customers should feel welcome before they even enter your business. An attractive, family friendly and clean store front will attract customers to your business. Once they enter your shop or garage, they will expect polite service, so look after them in any way you can. If you need to keep them waiting for any amount of time, make sure that comfortable seating areas are available.
Due to the nature of customers today, they want service to be available as soon as possible and when it suits them. So be attentive to the business phone and emails, if a customer cannot get in touch with you they may take their business elsewhere purely because that other business picked up the phone.
Knowing what your customers want is essential to helping you improve your customer service and, in turn, your profits. Find out what they need from you and do what you can to help them. The more you listen to your customers and the more information you find out, the more services you will be able to offer them. Also, if your customer has a complaint with the service they have been given, listening and empathising with their situation is half the battle, once they have vented and you have listened they’ll feel much better and then you can deal with their problem.
Be conscious of your customers’ time, as no matter how good your service is, keeping them waiting an inordinate amount of time is bad service. To make sure your customers’ time isn’t wasted, tell them an estimated time for when the job will be finished, and then try your best to meet the deadline. Customers will always feel aggrieved if they have had to wait longer than you originally told them, without good reason.
Any weak point in your customer service will be picked up on by the customer, instantly. Look at every step and see if there’s any part that is not performing at its full potential. You need to create a consistently good service so that people will return.
You need to receive feedback about your service otherwise you’ll never be able to better it. It requires a thick skin at times, but if there’s something wrong with your business you need to know about it. Offer feedback opportunities on your website, or give forms for people to fill in as they leave.
Also try following up after your service, if someone has bought a car from you recently, or had their car repaired by you, it’s really polite to send a follow up letter a month later letting them know that you hope that the vehicle is still running well and if they need to, they can contact you with any issues.
To offer customers the best service you need to create a social media page on Twitter and Facebook. This will allow them another way of contacting you and also give them the chance to endorse you to their friends.
You can also use the format to advertise offers and discounts. If you offer a one day extravagant price reduction once a month you’ll not only get some free advertisement as it is shared around the web, but you’ll also gain some loyal customers hungry for offers.
The key to making your customer service the best is by hiring polite, friendly and dedicated staff. Hiring people that will interact with your customers in a polite and knowledgeable way will increase customer satisfaction tenfold.
You may feel like you have the perfect staff and service possible, but to maintain those high levels of service you need to continuously improve them. Learn from your mistakes, talk and listen to your staff about service and interaction on a daily basis.
Think Insurance are experts in providing Motor Trade Insurance and Part-Time Motor Trade Insurance. If you are in need of a new policy, then please get in touch with Think today.
A new car dealing startup is changing the way cars are sold, as their new shop sits in a shopping centre and uses a new mobile payment technology.
The Bluewater in Kent, where you might normally go for an evening at the cinema or in the day to purchase some new threads, will now host a new type of shop selling Hyundais. Rockar, situated a short walk away from Marks and Spencer, will be the first car sales company to take the advantages of digital retail and employ them into a traditional store.
Simon Dixon, the founder of Rockar, was inspired by the selling and paying methods at the Apple store.
“We have turned the traditional car dealership process on its head. With our system and technology customers are in charge all the way.
“They make a tailored search based on their circumstances - budget, mileage, deposit, can book a solo test drive, sell their old car, choose suitable finance, build a new one and track delivery. It is up to them whether they speak to one of our staff.”
The store still has expert employees who are in store and ready to help, they are known as Rockar’s ‘Angels’. Each of them are armed with an online terminal plugged into their smartphone or tablet that allow the user to create secure deposit transactions and source key financial information.
Dixon explains that without the inconvenience of having to work from a till, the smart technology gives employees the freedom to aid and sell to the customer more freely.
“The flexibility and convenience we gain is very important for customer service. Angels aren’t tied to a till and they aren’t pushy sales people on commission, focussed on negotiation and pulling off a deal,
“Our product experts are immediately available and able to inform any customer coming in. We have positioned the cars to where people go naturally, rather than in locations where they have to make a specific journey. We also offer test drives and an all-makes service here too.”
Rockar are using the Barclaycard Anywhere service, which allows payments to be taken almost anywhere. The technology will do wonders for small businesses and could be game changing for mobile motor trade services such as valets or mechanics.
Rockar is barely 5 months old, yet it has already taken £1 million in sales and hopes to turnover £9 million in their first year. The company was originally backed by £5 million worth of private investment and has put down £3 million for a future lease commitment.
The idea has been massively popular and in their first 3 months of trading they had 62,000 visitors, which is more than the whole Hyundai network for that time. The new concept has even eaten into second hand car sales, with 72% of their customers saying they would normally buy a used car, and 48% used their current car as part exchange to purchase their new Hyundai.
Dixon himself has done his time in the motor trade but reflects that it was his time outside the business that really gave him the insight into the customer experience
“Being a customer, what they want when they buy a car. Understanding that perspective is the biggest thing I’ve learned and put into Rockar.”
Dixon hopes to open a number of new stores in locations around the UK, using a different car manufacturer each time.
A hand car wash company that have achieved a reputation for expert service within the sector are looking for franchise owners to invest in new sites around the UK.
Auto Valet have been supplying a high quality valet service for 20 years, and have earned a lot of respect with their customers and the motor trade industry. Their service runs within some of the main shopping malls, operating a “we wash while you shop” policy. They are now offering some very attractively priced franchise opportunities for clever entrepreneurs.
They were one of the first car washes of their kind in the UK, offering customers the chance to get their car washed while they are out shopping. When Stella O’Shea, Auto Valet’s Managing Director, launched the operation she had a team of two valeters at Brent Cross Shopping Centre in North London. The mall’s management weren’t sold on the idea initially, but it soon became a resounding success and now you can find them in shopping centres and malls across the UK.
“They thought it was a crazy idea and would never succeed as customers would never take up the service. Having spent 10 years as a business consultant, both here and in the USA, specialising in business start ups, I managed to persuade them to trust my instinct that this was a great new concept and that it would be highly successful.
“As well as proving there was a demand for a ‘wash while you shop’ service, I had to devise a specific technique to hand wash a car suitable for the car park to prevent any splashes landing on the car beside the one being cleaned.”
Stella came up with the concept while on her way to a wedding. She stopped to buy a card from a shopping centre and realised it would be a perfect time to get her car washed, it would save her much needed time.
Now, with investments starting from £10,000 plus VAT and working capital, entrepreneurs can start their own ‘wash while you shop’ Auto Valet franchise. Stella is inviting budding entrepreneurs to share the business’ success, “Our brand is aspirational – it offers customers a lifestyle choice, not just a car wash,”
The car wash and shopping service has become much in demand, and Stella’s Brent Cross business now employs 40 washers and valeters, and the company as a whole runs at another 24 sites. They are hoping to offer their excellent service and value for money in many more sites around the country.
If you require Valet Insurance or another kind of Motor Trade Insurance, part time or full, please head this way for more information.
While most people in the motor trade dream of playing professional football, there is one professional footballer dreaming of selling cars. Jordan Seabright, The Torquay United goalkeeper, has recently left football behind to become a car salesman in his home town of Poole.
Jordan, aged 20, has played 6 times this season after signing for the The Gulls from Dagenham last Summer. He played last on the 17th January whilst away at Altrincham. The keeper denies any lack of ambition on the pitch, it’s rather the contrary as he is seeking success in other areas.
“If I’m honest, I fell out of love with the game, I didn’t really enjoy it any more, I didn’t see myself going anywhere and I want to have a career and be successful. It wasn’t a lack of ambition in football, but it was a good opportunity for me to come home and work in a good environment.”
The young keeper started playing in his hometown club, Poole Town before being snapped up at the age of 16 by AFC Bournemouth. He stayed for one season at Bournemouth and after being released, he then joined League 2’s Dagenham and Redbridge playing 11 times throughout the 12/13 and 13/14 season.
Jordan’s manager, Chris Hargreaves, was disappointed but supportive of his young player’s aspirations, he told the press:
”It’s a really brave decision, it’s a decision that I don’t think is necessarily the wrong decision, but the bigger factor is it disappoints me that he’s lost that dream. It’s unusual, but with someone like Jordan, who’s a bright lad and very switched on, he knows what he wants to do, he knows he wants security. He’s due to get married and I can see why he’s done it.”
Seabright will be selling Audis, but hasn’t wholly turned his back on the game, and plans to train locally in case he chooses to go back to the game in 6 months. Meanwhile, Torquay will be looking for a new keeper since they only have one other goalie with any first team experience, Martin Rice.
If like Jordan, you will soon be needing Motor Trade Insurance, then please visit Think Insurance. At think we create cost effective insurance plans tailored directly to you. At our sister site, Think Private, we also sell Footballer’s Insurance should you decide to become a professional footballer instead!
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