Management: Simple Ways to Make Sure Your Shop is 'Top of Mind' with Your Customers

Management: Simple Ways to Make Sure Your Shop is ‘Top of Mind’ with Your Customers

You've just finished your customer's vehicle, but don’t let a simple, cost-effective advertising opportunity slip away. We've used a three-step in-house advertising plan for years, and we've always had a favorable response from our customers. Here are the nuts and bolts of the plan.

by Joe Stephens
Import Specialist Contributor

You’ve just finished your customer’s vehicle, but don’t let a simple, cost-effective advertising opportunity slip away. We’ve used a three-step in-house advertising plan for years, and we’ve always had a favorable response from our customers. Here are the nuts and bolts of the plan:

The first part of our three-part advertising system is our underhood sticker. This sticker is applied under the hood by the technician on every car he works on that doesn’t already have one. We’ve found that this sticker really helps get the car back in the shop. When the customer opens the hood if he or she has a problem, our sticker is right there in clear view with our phone number and address. We also have new customers come to us because they bought a car that has our underhood sticker, and they know that we’ve serviced the vehicle and have the history of the vehicle.

To apply the sticker, you first need to pick a highly visible area, such as the core support, air box, strut tower or the firewall. Use some brake cleaner on a rag and wipe the area clean, then apply the sticker. The stickers cost about $0.60 each.

The second part of our three-part system is our invoice sticker. This sticker is affixed to every invoice after the service has been completed. After a vehicle is serviced and the technician reviews our list of free jobs (see end of article), he then chooses an appropriate service. Each of these jobs normally takes less than three minutes. After finishing the service, the technician writes it on the ticket and hands it to the service writer, who then records the service that was done at “no charge” in the blank space on a sticker and affixes it to the customer’s invoice. This is always the first thing mentioned by the customer when he or she picks up the unpaid invoice to review the bill. It makes for a pleasant reaction when a customer gets more than they expected. Each sticker costs about $0.50.

The third part of our three-part system is our business card. Each paid invoice leaves with one of our business cards attached. Our business card is no ordinary card; it’s a special plastic card that looks and feels like a credit card, and our customers treat it like a credit card. They place them in their wallets right with their credit cards, so it’s easy for them to find when they need it. It’s also hard to loose and it sticks out in a Rolodex like a sore thumb.

No one has a business card like ours; people mention it everyday and are proud to pass it along to friends and family. The cards cost about $0.90 each depending on how many you order. We purchase our cards from You can design and order your cards from their website, which has many options for you to choose from such as pictures, card thickness and even magnetic cards.

So the next time you’re servicing a customer’s vehicle, remember that a $0.60 sticker or $0.90 business card can go a long way in helping them remember your shop the next time their vehicle needs repairs. It’s a small investment that will pay off many times in repeat customers and referrals.

Here are some ways to “over-deliver” a vehicle:
• Check spare tire air pressure and check for tools to change tire;
• Change wiper blades;
• Lube door locks, hinges and power antenna;
• Put silicone on window runs;
• Check tire pressure;
• Add gas if level is low;
• Wash vehicle;
• Check all bulbs and replace as necessary;
• Complete small electrical repairs;
• Clean and lube battery terminals;
• Complete EDT battery test;
• Check A/C outlet temperature;
• Tire repair;
• Check freezing point of coolant;
• Reset “change oil” light;
• Complete inspection of vehicle;
• Locate the locking lug nut and put it in the glove compartment if it’s not there;
• Clean wheels and apply tire shine to tires;
• Vacuum vehicle interior;
• Clean vehicles windows;
• Adjust headlights; and
• HVAC spray duct treatment.

Joe Stephens is the owner of Stephens Automotive in Palatine, IL, and a member of the ImportCar Advisory Board. For the past 10 years, Stephens has specialized in the repair of Toyota and Lexus vehicles at his 6,000-square-foot shop, staffed by three technicians and one service writer. Stephens says he’ll always make time to talk shop with any shop owner; you can contact him at [email protected].

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