These days, we’re all tethered to our smart phones, and many of us don’t purchase a good or service – online or in-store – without reading peer reviews. In one study, 82% of shoppers say they “consult their phones [for reviews on] a purchase they’re about to make inside a store.” If 82% of people consult reviews for any old in-store purchase, one would assume that for pricey car repairs, reviews would become even more important.
So now, more than ever, it’s important to ensure that every one of your customers is taking the time to review your business. So, while you may be focused on the end-goal of net revenue for your auto repair shop, you should consider a shorter-term goal to get your team behind: one new business review per customer, or even per repair. Here are a few ideas.
How to Get Reviews For Your Business
Provide Great Service
This is an obvious one, but it can sometimes fall by the wayside. Before you pursue customer reviews, create a business-wide initiative to provide top-notch service to everyone – customers, colleagues and vendors alike. Rather than answer needs, anticipate them. Ensure your bathroom is clean, coffee is brewed fresh, and consider writing thank-you notes, at least for the biggest jobs you’ve performed within the last month.
Have you had a customer who had expressed anything less than complete satisfaction? Reach out to ask what you could have improved upon, and offer 10% toward the next service, to promise to make your reputation right in his or her eyes.
Ask For “Points of Improvement” Face-to-Face
Before you let your happiest customers pull out of the garage, make a small request – ask what you could have done better. Give an opportunity for the customer to share constructive criticism with you, one-on-one.
“Alice, we’re really grateful for your business. Is there anything else we could have done to improve your view of us and our work?”
There have been times where we’ve been upset that a shop manager hadn’t provided enough detailed feedback, following a service that cost hundreds of dollars. Or times that it took too long for someone to respond to online messaging. Or, when we’d arrived to pick up a car from service, and it had taken 20 minutes for anyone at the shop to just address us with a quick “Hello! I’ll be with you in one moment!”
If anyone had asked, we would have explained that those were all easy (and free) opportunities for improvement. Instead, we left each interaction steaming, thinking “I’ll show them” by posting a negative review online.
Shop owners owe it to themselves to head-off negative feedback online. Open the door for your customers to share feedback in person, and you’ll encourage positive, constructive dialog that could help your business (should you care enough to address it, which you should).
Ask For the Review!
We once heard from a top-notch service provider that every time he asked for a customer review, he seemed to get rated an extra-star, than when he hadn’t asked. Maybe it’s because his customers knew he was keeping track. Or maybe it’s because that business owner made a point to say “Thank you” to each customer, letting them know they were valuable and made a difference to the business.
When asking for an online review, be specific, because your customers aren’t psychic. Say something like,
“Alice, we’re really grateful for your business. Is there anything else we could have done to improve your view of us and our work?
Also, as you can imagine, online reviews go a long way toward bringing in new customers. Any chance you could draft a review, and share it to Openbay, Google + and Yelp?”
If your customer says, “Yes,” thank them, and promise to follow up in a couple of days via email, to ensure she doesn’t forget.
Ask For the Review – By Email!
Make good on your promise to follow up for a review via email. Draft a simple note, with a link to your business on each site. Here’s an example, and feel free to copy this format – we believe imitation is the best form of flattery!
We’re glad you trusted [Openbay] for your recent vehicle service.
We’d appreciate you reviewing our business for other prospective users. Online reviews are a big part of encouraging new customers to try our business.
Please consider writing a sentence or two, and pasting it to one/any of the following sites —
Hugest thanks for your help. Your referrals will help to ensure our small business thrives!
[Name + Contact Information]
Once you’ve sent the note, feel free to follow up about a week later (and at a different time of day), in case you’re able to track those who have vs. haven’t responded.
Incentivize Referrals – With and Without Budget
When one of your customers refers another customer, what do you do? Do you track it? If not, why not?
Consider this case — every time we’ve sent a new patient to our dentist, we’ve received a hand-written note of thanks, along with a $5 Starbucks gift card. Wow. Now, we know they’re keeping track of their patients, but we also know that they truly value referrals. You can bet we’ll be referring more people their way.
Consider similar ways to thank your customers. Hand-written notes, and actual gift cards can be a time-consuming method, but if you have the budget, consider sending an e-version of a Dunkin Donuts gift card to those who’ve referred new customers your way. Or maybe a Shell gift card. Nobody will refuse a free gallon of gas!
Even if $5 per referral isn’t in your budget, a personal note, or email, matters. As a business owner, sending a quick note to say something like this will go a long way –
Your friend, Shane, came in for service today, saying you had referred him.
Your loyalty, and willingness to share that, makes a big difference to our small business. Thanks for sending a new customer our way – this makes my day!
If you provide great service, customers that review your business will always have something positive to say. If your service isn’t quite up to par, asking for points of improvement will help to prevent any negative reviews. The best way to make sure that you get a review is to ask, either in person or by email. And finally, when you have customers that leave good reviews, be sure to encourage them to send their friends and family to your shop.
Your bottom-line goal is to increase revenue, but you’ll be surprised by how much your business can grow once you start getting some good reviews and referrals.
Have you had success driving customer reviews for your business? If so, how? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if we receive enough feedback, we’ll create a new blog, and will link to your shop.