When Michael O’Toole started operating his first auto franchise repair shop in Mississauga – partnering with autoglass-mississauga service, Canada, he had no idea that it might be possible to achieve not just double-digit, but triple-digit returns on an annual basis. He had seen steady growth in the business for two years, but it was in Year Three that business really took off. By the end of 2015, he had posted a staggering 100 percent growth in his business, and he’s on the same pace for 2016.
“Going from 0 to 100 is easy than you think,” says O’Toole. “I was working with a strong franchising partner, so I already had all the tools to grow the business. It was just up to me to take my auto repair shop to the next level.” Based on what he’s learned, he’s put together a list of five different “Growth Rules” for achieving similar success:
Growth Rule #1: Make Customer Service Your Top Priority
It’s simply impossible to overstate how important customer trust and loyalty is in running an auto franchise repair shop At a minimum, customers will be coming back 3-4 times every year to get their oil changed or have routine preventive maintenance done on their vehicles. You want to make sure that they come back to you every time – and not to a competitor, and the only way to guarantee that is to provide exceptional customer service – from the moment they walk in the door, to the moment they drive their car off the lot.
Growth Rule #2: Leverage Online Promotions From the Franchiser
Throughout the year, the franchisor is going to let you participate in online promotions, in which you can offer huge discounts to customers on certain products or services. These promotions are amazing opportunities to get customers in the door – even if they don’t buy what’s being promoted, they may order another service or buy another product.
Growth Rule #3: Surprise and delight your customers
This may sound obvious, says O’Toole, but always look for ways to “surprise and delight” your customers. You essentially already have a template that you can follow from the franchisor, concern how to market, promote and brand your business. It’s just up to you to come up with slight innovations to make them even better. For example, says O’Toole, sometimes give a customer’s car a free car wash when it comes back from the shop. “People love it when their cars look sparkling new, especially if it’s free,” says O’Toole.
Growth Rule #4: Make sure customers have a way to finance their purchases
What really made a business take off, says O’Toole, was offering the ability for customers to finance purchases. With help from the franchisor, he was able to make it easy to extend credit to customers on the spot while they were in the shop. Even a credit line of $500 can make a huge difference to a customer who is split on whether or not to have a certain repair done. If they can spread the cost of repairs over several months, they’ll almost always opt to have the work done by your auto repair shop.
Growth Rule #5: Make your business “social.”
O’Toole was skeptical at first about launching a Facebook page for his auto repair shop. “How many people are really going to want to “like” my page?” he asked. But he was shocked at how readily people started following his business on Facebook. “I would just post BEFORE and AFTER photos of a car, and they would get almost a hundred likes, I was very surprised,” says O’Toole. But in hindsight, maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising – people forms a very special relationship with their vehicles, and if you can show that you are extending the same type of care and concern, they’ll always respond!
If you’re thinking of starting your own auto franchise repair shop, it’s time to start putting these Growth Rules to work! Going from 0 to 100 could be easier than you think.