If you build it, will they come?
Maybe. We hope so. Just opening the doors of a heavy-duty repair shop doesn’t guarantee a constant stream of customers. You’re certain to get some walk-ins and curiosity-driven clients at first, but you’ll have to make a conscious effort to build a solid customer base and keep your doors open. And what kind of customers are we all hoping for?
How do you get them? By being their preferred shop.
A preferred repair shop provides value along with service. Today, we’re punching up this old article to provide some practical suggestions around how to keep customers coming once they’re hooked and showing you how Fullbay can help with that.
Yes, friends, it’s that kind of blog—c’mon, you know we do some shameless sharing every now and then.
Make a Good First Impression
No matter what type of business you run, a good first impression is crucial. Sure, heavy-duty repair can get…well, it’s not always the cleanest field. But keep your shop as clean and organized as possible. A practical layout does more than make your shop look better. It also makes things run more efficiently when techs don’t have to stop what they’re doing to look for something they need. Plus, it indicates to customers and visitors that you care about the details. That boosts customer confidence and will help rank yours in the top among preferred repair shops.
This can extend to things like shop uniforms. You don’t want your techs going to work in their street clothes (they don’t want to do that, either), and an appealing uniform makes everyone look like part of a team. A nice uniform contributes to that first impression as much as a clean, well-organized shop—so if you go this route, be prepared to invest in duplicates (these uniforms can get beat up on the job) and regular repairs.
(Clothes: They’re just like heavy-duty equipment!)
Fullbay can’t help you put together a uniform, but you can manage their related expenses within the app.
Make It Easy to Book Service
People ultimately want to come to you to get their vehicles repaired or serviced. Give them every opportunity to do that.
Sure, they can call you up and leave a message.
But give them multiple ways to do it. Maybe you’ve got a “Request Service” button on your website. Maybe they can text or email. Or, if you have Fullbay, they can jump into their customer portal and fill out a service request. You can set up pending tasks for preventive maintenance as well as things like DOT and BIT reminders for them there as well.
Hire Knowledgeable Techs…and Pay Them Well
We’re in the midst of a tech shortage, which means you need to go above and beyond to hire good ones—and keep them. That means offering a fair hourly wage, bolstered by a good labor rate that you review frequently.
“If you have a $40-an-hour tech,” Fullbay COO Chris O’Brien says, “pay them $40 an hour. Paying that tech $20/hour isn’t going to help you. They’ll go into business for themselves or go somewhere else.”
If you lose all your good techs, you will very likely not be the repair shop of choice for fleets. Heck, you might not be the repair shop of choice for anyone.
Encourage their continued education. It’s great to hire friendly, certified techs who know their job inside and out. But if you want to attract fleets, you’ll need to keep your staff trained in new technology. Keeping them up to speed with what’s current and what’s coming will ensure your shop can keep offering top-of-the-line work as vehicles on the road continue to evolve.
Set Fair Prices & Make It Easy to Pay
Yours can be the cleanest, friendliest heavy-duty shop in the land, offering every service under the sun. However, if you don’t price your parts or set your labor rates appropriately, you will not attract the customers you want.
And that doesn’t necessarily mean low prices, by the way. You should charge fair rates for your area (our State of Heavy-Duty Repair report has a lot about this), but don’t try to undercut everyone by charging a lot less—then it just becomes a race to the bottom.
Fullbay lets you set up dynamic pricing. You can assign specific prices to customers, program in different labor rates, and utilize price matrixes to make sure you’re getting the right margin. These settings, by the way, are often used as a selling point by our customers. Shop owners have shown fleet managers the level of detail and customizability available and seriously—they’ve been impressed.
When it comes time to settle up, make sure your shop can accept a variety of payments: credit cards, ACH, fleet checks and fleet cards. If your shop can store that information so customers don’t have to enter it over and over again, so much the better.
(Yes…Fullbay does that, too.)
Communicate With Customers
We’ll scream this from the rooftops if we have to: Communication should always, always, always be your priority.
Clients need to be kept in the loop on their jobs. Return calls when you say you will, address customer concerns, and consult with them if an unforeseen problem comes up. An open line of communication is essential for keeping customers happy.
Plus, happy customers give you a kind of PR you can’t buy. Their word-of-mouth goodwill is better advertising than buying a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl. Encourage them to tell their friends about their good experience at your shop, or ask if you can use them as a reference or ask them to leave reviews on your Google Business profile.
Glowing recommendations—whatever form they take—are priceless.
Fullbay brings customer communication to the next level with our customer portal. Through it, customers can see pretty much everything they need to know about a job: where a vehicle is in the repair (including photos and tech notes), its history, and any authorization requests. Customers can schedule PM work, request repairs, and pay right through the portal. No tying up the phone lines, no dropping in on your shop for updates—everything they need to know or do is right at their fingertips.
Think about how many people are involved in running and maintaining a big fleet with, say, 200+ vehicles. Not only do fleet managers have their preferred partners, but they also have trucks breaking down or needing sudden work. That’s where Fullbay really shines—it shows the fleet manager everything they need to know about a repair request and lets them authorize it and go on with their day.
Finally, it’s not possible to please everyone all the time. You will get complaints over time. But negative feedback can be as valuable as positive feedback—especially if it moves you to do something better. Listen to everything customers say and use constructive criticism to make positive changes.
Keep Detailed Records
Preferred repair shops keep excellent records.
In the past, that meant keeping warehouses filled with paperwork. It was a cumbersome and inefficient process, but at least customers knew they could count on their repair shop to have a history of everything about their trucks, from routine PMs to parts replacements and repairs.
Fullbay, of course, makes keeping detailed records much easier. It streamlines your entire process from creating estimates to tracking inventory, setting prices, and invoicing. The Fullbay Marketplace is even here to help streamline the way you buy parts!
Implementing a tool like Fullbay plays a part in every step of becoming the repair shop of choice for fleets. Give our free demo a try and start reaching for those fleets!