The State of the Industry
Let's look at several factors affecting service departments today:
1) Automotive service continues to rank in the bottom 1% of all retail service industries.
2) Customers are very skeptical of automotive repairs.
3) Customers don't trust repair recommendations.
4) Customers don't understand most repair recommendations.
5) Customers are reluctant to schedule service visits with older, high mileage vehicles because they fear inspection sheets that look like laundry lists.
6) Vehicles are built better and last longer.
7) Vehicle maintenance spending is on the decline.
8) Factory warranty continues to decline.
9) New car and pre-owned UIO continue to defect from franchise dealers.
How will service centers compete in today's automotive service repair industry? Here is a look at how one automotive service center is thriving despite difficult industry trends.
Using Technology to Build Trust
Christian Brothers Automotive in Grapevine, Texas uses technology as a trust-building and selling solution for customers. As a member of a national franchise, CBA Grapevine has access to standard web tools, such as online scheduling forms and marketing campaigns. But only recently did this service center focus on "visual selling," using inspection photos and videos to show exactly why a repair is needed.
The service center embraced ClearMechanic's Visual Selling Solution, which enables technicians to take real-time photos and video clips of a customer's vehicle and instantly send them to customers via web, e-mail and text message. ClearMechanic's fully automated solution integrates iPhone and Android mobile devices with a shop's management system and website.
When CBA Grapevine manager Kerry Ming first began using ClearMechanic, he had a very clear vision for the program and saw instant success. As Kerry said:
"I think ClearMechanic gives uncomfortable, first-time customers the confidence to get off the fence and comfortably commit to doing the repairs faster than they might otherwise. To me, of equal or greater importance is it greatly increases the "warm fuzzy" feeling, if you will, of the customer being able to see and understand what the issue is with his or her vehicle. It gives the customer a sense of participation in the work.
For example, we just fixed a customer's car that broke down driving through Dallas from Wichita Falls, where he lived. He had to rent a car and left his with us for repair. He really liked being able to see what the problem was from his phone on the road and could have confidence in us as a shop he had never been. He could see we knew what we were doing. It is a very professional program to have available, especially with everyone going online nowdays."
Case Study: Explaining the Complexity of an Oil Leak
Ming cited one example where the use of real-time inspection photos was particularly helpful. A married couple brought in a 2007 Saturn Ion with an oil leak from the rear oil galley plugs and rear main seal. The challenge for this type of repair is that the customer cannot see these parts until the transmission is removed. Ming remarked, "The couple relaxed tremendously once they could see the pictures and then clearly see what we were talking about. That also reduced the number of phone calls with questions about why the repair took so long, because they could actually see how much we had to do to get the car apart." In situations with two decision-makers, where one spouse is often communicating information to the other, the ability to share a secure link to photos, video clips and diagrams of the vehicle makes that internal communication process far easier.
How ClearMechanic Has Changed the Selling Process
Every shop has taken photos at some point, whether to persuade a skeptical customer, for a marketing campaign or for a warranty job. The challenge has always been that taking photos is usually inconvenient and inefficient. (To understand this better, see this blog post.) ClearMechanic's use of integrated iPhone and Android mobile applications has created a repeatable process that is also affordable for every service center.
CBA Grapevine has helped to close sales and differentiate itself from other service centers through its trust-building efforts. Ming mentioned in an interview that because of ClearMechanic, his customers tell their coworkers or friends AFTER the job is done about the use of photos. It's very easy with ClearMechanic for a customer to share his or her photos by e-mail or text message and to post them to Facebook. "Theres always the guy at the office water cooler talking badly about auto repair shops," Ming notes. "That person may be a car or boat enthusiast, but probably does not have knowledge about the specific technical issue we dealt with in the customer's vehicle. It is nice having photos and videos to back us up and prove what we told the customer was valid."
For more information about ClearMechanic, visit our Solutions page (www.clearmechanic.com/solutions) or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also test out ClearMechanic's iPhone or Android applications by searching for "ClearMechanic" in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Start visual selling today!