Performance & Hotrod Business - July '15

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BUSINESS Capitalizing on Dealer Service How automotive aftermarket shops can improve the customer experience. By Tom SmiSek Tom Smisek is a Certified Advertising Marketing Consultant based in Orange County, California. Over the past five decades, Tom has designed and imple- mented the advertising, marketing and PR campaigns that launched major motorcycle and automotive aftermar- keters like: K&N, Dick Cepek, Bel- Ray, Bassani Mfg., Classic Industries, Original Parts Group and has worked with Art Carr Transmissions, Don- A-Vee Motorsports, Unocal Racing Gasoline and Currie Enterprises, to name a few. Currently his clients include PROTHANE and Perrycraft. Tom offers a unique combination of award-winning creative talent, market- ing expertise, along with mechanical skills in the automotive, off-road and motorcycle fields. For more information visit T oday when the Internet seems to be the place where buyers are flocking, local automotive shops and retail stores are feel- ing the sales pinch. Sure, shopping online does offer a wide variety of products at very competitive prices, but what is lacking in the e-commerce world is that personal contact that you get when buying over the counter. Personally, I like to see a product before I buy it. I might have some questions about the features, or need advice on installation or use. And if I do have a problem, I can go directly back to that same guy where I bought it and get it resolved on the spot. Call me a relic, an old-timer or even a dinosaur, but I really appreciate the per- sonal service I get when I can talk to a live, knowledgeable salesperson. I can discuss options and accessories, see and hold the item, and that makes me feel more confi- dent that I am making the right choice. The information and advice I get at a dealer is the old-fashioned service that is missing in online purchasing! Dealers have a service advantage if they know how to use it. Yes, service is an important factor for auto parts and accessories sellers, but many automotive aftermarket retailers and repair shops have not taken full advantage of establishing and promoting the way they interact with customers. Customer service falls into two cat- egories. First is mechanical service such as repairs and installations. Second are inter- actions and courtesies with the customers. In this article, we will focus on cus- tomer relations. Some business owners take it for granted and assume that their customers know they are going to get good service from them, while others just don't know how to organize and capitalize on this key selling feature. Here are some suggestions that can help you establish great customer service for your business: Outline Your Services What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere? To find out, profile your business. Sit down with your employees and make a list of comments, questions and complaints that you have n DEALER SERVICE 80 n Performance & Hotrod Business n July 2015

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