Coronavirus has changed the rules for automobile repair shops, and not only in terms of operating hours. Due to the fact that some customers postponed the purchase of a new car and some could not or did not arrive for their regular service interval, in 2020 the usual course of things changed. How do you deal with these changes?
End of service as we know it
The lifecycle of automobile repair shops was quite simple until 2020 (and let’s add even until 2008/2009). A portion of revenue was more or less fixed and predictable, thanks to regular warranty inspections. These revenues increased with special events from car manufacturers, or with seasonal inspections as part of the importers marketing activities, while a significant portion of the revenues were from random but regularly occurring traffic accidents. More or less, after the end of the factory warranty, some clients would leave the branded service, usually part of a dealership, to a generic service. Some branded services have been trying to address this customer outflow for some time with discounts on their hourly rate for servicing older cars; not always successfully. Overall, however, there was not much pressure on the automobile repair shop. This was all true before the arrival of coronavirus. But what does the situation look like now?
Planning sales and service work is suddenly much more difficult
Most automobile repair shops have always focused primarily on capacity planning. The financial side of things then followed. However, now the situation has changed. It is no longer enough to do what you used to do to maintain service sales. Some customers suddenly cannot afford a complete service, some will look for cheaper alternatives including purchasing parts (typically brake pads, discs, and engine oil) directly. There is also an element of fear that at the service center, other, unexpected and expensive repairs may emerge. In addition, many companies are saving on service. A bit of certainty comes from cars that are operationally leased, where service was included in the price. Automobile repair shops still have high fixed costs and firing capable mechanics is not exactly the optimal solution for the future. What can be done then?
Even a car service will have to do marketing and sales
Marketing and sales need to be engaged. How? There is new demand for extending the lifecycle of a car. If you know which of your customers decided not to renew their fleet at the originally planned interval, it will be easier to offer them your service. Perhaps with some discount, but it is not necessary. Sometimes a well-targeted marketing message is enough.
Targeted marketing is the first step that will help auto services maintain as much of last year’s revenue as possible in 2021. Many practical insights into improving marketing and business practices can be gathered from receiving service technicians. Utilizing their input is a relatively cost-free way of improving the quality of your targeted marketing campaign.
Engage social networks
Social networks can also be a valuable source of completely new income. Today you will find there all customers of your competitors, whether branded or non-branded. You should not forget about the fan sites either. Today, fans of almost every carmaker have their own group on Facebook or on a discussion forum. There you will find a lot of owners of older vehicles who also want to keep their car in the best condition possible even if they no longer visit branded service centers. All that matters is just data analysis and the desire to experiment.
How to ensure sales for the service center? Join data with your dealership
You may have a rather relevant question about how to manage all this or set it up in your service center where practically neither sales nor marketing were done before. It’s simple, you’ll just need the appropriate specialized IT tools. An example of such a specialized solution is Automotive CRM from Konica Minolta. It can connect data from the service, social networks, and even your dealership (including all its branches, or other brands), giving you a 360° vide of each customer. And for any type of targeted sales or marketing activity, this is the most important thing to have. It can be implemented for the entire dealership and service center in just 30 days.
Sometimes in CZ, there is the management of the implementation. I dont think the separation is necessary and could just be implementation.