Before the days of cable TV, podcasts and the Internet, people used to rely on word-of-mouth referrals, because that's all they really had. Customers would tell their friends and family members about the great service they received, which ultimately helped businesses grow their customer base. Many companies today, including collision centers and body shops are finding huge benefits by simply asking customers to promote their business through referrals.
Word-of-mouth recommendations can be very powerful. Typically, it has been shown that customers trust a good referral more than relying on information from websites, newspapers, television and radio. According to a report from Nielsen, 92 percent of customers trust referrals from people they know above all other forms of advertising. Nielsen also discovered that people are four times more likely to make a purchasing decision when referred by a friend, family member or even an acquaintance.
Compared to spending thousands of dollars to run ads in print and broadcast mediums, referrals are an inexpensive marketing tool that cost virtually nothing except other than your time and effort.
How to maximize word-of-mouth referrals for your collision center:
Provide Exceptional Service
Take the time to exceed your customers’ expectations from the moment they walk into your service department. If you want people to rave about your service, make sure to impress and “wow” them. Greet them with a smile, find out their needs and do your best to keep them posted during the entire repair process.
Let your customers know why referrals are so important to your body shop and how much it means to you and the other employees. The best time to ask for a referral is when you are assured that your customers are happy with the service received. Some body shops offer incentives, such as a prepaid gift card or free car detailing to show their appreciation for a referral.
Make it Easy
Find a convenient way to suggest how and where your customers can refer your business, whether it’s through social media, an email, a phone conversation or in person. A simple way is to include a forwarding link on your website or email correspondence where customers can “share with a friend.”
Stay in Touch
After customers walk out the door of your body shop, remember that they will always be potential spokespeople. Consider sending an occasional email or newsletter to keep them updated about your dealership and the services you provide. Just make sure to get their permission first.
It only takes a few minutes to ask a customer for a referral. That short amount of time can lead to new business, helping to build your brand and enhance your company’s reputation. That’s the power of referrals!