It’s closing time. Earlier today, your last customer for the day said she really needed her car tonight. Now you, your service advisor or both of you are waiting for her to show up, collect her keys and hand over some of her hard-earned cash in exchange for the work performed on her car.
You look at the time on your phone – 15 minutes going on 30, and now an hour has gone by – and she has yet to show up because rush-hour traffic has her running really late. Supper is on the table at your house and has gotten cold, and your advisor missed his daughter’s dance recital – all because your shop made an honest commitment to deliver that car tonight.
If there were a better way, would you be interested?
Change…we know it is constant and moving at a rapid pace in this industry. Technology in cars is moving forward at light-speed. In the shop, it seems to be moving even faster.
I’ll bet before 2020 you had never considered or possibly even heard of the phrase “contactless payments,” but, with COVID, it’s the word of the day.
In the December issue of Shop Owner magazine, Jesse Meddaugh of 360 Payments illustrated the transformative benefits of using a contactless payment option in your shop. With the integration into the shop management system along with Text-to-Pay, collecting for the repairs ahead of the customer’s arrival has never been easier or more secure.
Let’s look at the five benefits of collecting payment in advance
More time to focus on the customer
The relationship your shop develops with each customer is the cornerstone of continued loyalty, trust and referrals. It’s been said that “People do business with people they know and like.” Part of any good business relationship is demonstrating you care and giving them a reason to do business with your shop and staff.
If you take away the most awkward part of the customer’s experience when picking up the car – paying the bill – you’ve now made time to get to know what’s ahead for that customer. Over the next few months, they might have some specific needs for which your shop can suggest particular service options. They may never have considered you for a:
• Pre-trip inspection;
• Pre-purchase inspection for another vehicle they are planning to buy;
• Service on their kids’ vehicles when they are coming home from college for the summer or holidays;
• Personal events like a birthday or anniversary that your shop might want to recognize with a greeting card; or
• Many other opportunities they might not have thought about.
Review of Unperformed Services
On an average visit, your shop should plan to sell a little more than half of what is recommended in a good inspection. What happened to the rest of those recommendations? In many shops (and I hope yours is the exception), the service recommendations are written in the appropriate field on the repair order and never followed up on. Is it any wonder the national average for billed labor hours on each vehicle is just above 1 hour? The top-performing shops we coach see an average of 3 hours per repair order.
Using this time to go over the importance of each recommendation that’s not completed leads to the next point.
Set Up the Next Appointment
Some people say they would rather go to the dentist than get their car serviced! So, successful shops can learn a few things from the dental industry. Your dentist probably has an extremely effective approach to setting up your next appointment – follow that lead! First, set up the appointment with your customer; second, follow up using their preferred method of communication. Take the first step and initiate the appointment. By doing so, it conveys a sense of urgency to the customer that there is, in fact, a need. You will get 100% of what you don’t ask for…so make it a point to ask the customer for the next appointment before your customer leaves your shop.
One Less Thing to Do During the Busiest Period of the Day
As Jesse explained last month, contactless payments are here to stay. This is great for your service advisor because the time usually required for taking the payment can now be spent on tasks that can directly increase the billed hours and customer satisfaction.
By using remote payments there will be no more hanging around to wait for a customer after hours. Face it, a day at the shop can be taxing enough on your team, so having an option for your customer to pick up their ride after hours is convenient for the customer and communicates to your employees you value their free time, too!
Implementing payment processing before the car is picked up will yield dividends, and it enhances your image as being at the forefront of today’s technology. Sales will increase, provided you utilize the extra time you gain to review the customer’s future repair needs and set up the next appointment. This allows you to do what the independent repair shop does best – build and strengthen the bond with your customer, which is the cornerstone of a long-term relationship.