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larrymillershop.jpgWhen it comes to things like auto repair, potential customers tend to turn to their friends and family for advice. After all, this isn’t a visit to the grocery store. Auto repairs take skill, and because they might not understand the process, drivers could be hesitant to trust the first shop they find in the yellow pages. So how can you cash in on that tendency to seek recommendations? Let’s take a look.

Start with great repairs and service.

A referral is truly something that’s earned. That means in order to generate future business, you need to concentrate on providing superior service right now. Quality repairs are a bare minimum here. Tighten up your processes and make sure you have the right equipment to get it done on time, but also look for ways to go above and beyond. For example, you can do your part to combat the inherent unease and confusion that comes with car repairs by going through the process step-by-step and helping customers truly understand the repairs.

It’s also important to provide superior customer service. Perks like courtesy updates and free detailing will help you stand out in your customers’ minds. The key is to do more than the expected. In order for someone to speak up and tell people about your shop, they need to believe others will be wowed by the experience. They’ll remember those extras when the time comes and feel comfortable offering up your name to others.

Ask for referrals.

Gentle prompting on your part doesn’t hurt! There are several ways to approach this:

  • Ask for referrals in person. If you have a good relationship with an existing customer, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask them to send others your way. A simple mention when they pick up their car is a good start.
  • Post about it online. If you have a social presence, mix in a mention of referrals now and then. You don’t want to pester your followers, but it’s a good idea to put it out there, and ask for either online reviews or future referrals.
  • Use marketing materials such as emails or posters. If you have a list of customer emails, consider talking about referrals in your marketing emails. A poster on the door is also a good prompt for existing customers.

Consider referral rewards.

Some shops couple those referral requests with perks like discounted services, cash and more. The rewards don’t have to be huge, and the costs will likely be offset by the new business they bring in. Experiment with a few different incentives to see what sticks. If you have good luck with a trial, consider making it an ongoing offer.

To sum it up, referrals begin and end with standout service. Make sure your shop is running in top form, encourage referrals in ways that make sense for your clientele and then provide great repairs again. That way, your new customers will become repeat, loyal customers who will take the referral wheel for another spin.