Auto Repair Customer Database: How Big Should It Be?

Why SIZE Doesn’t Matter!

Today I’d like to talk about your customer database. More specifically, do you know how big that database is? Now I’m not really interested in how many customers you’ve had since day one, I’m more interested in the usable part of the database. In other words, the people that have been in your shop over the past year, ’cause those are your active customers. A lot of times when I’m talking with a shop owner and we start talking numbers of their database, they go back to day one, the very first day they started doing business, and they count everybody, even though it may be 20, 30, or 40 years since those people have seen the inside of your shop.

See, those names are worthless. The only ones we’re really concerned with are not only the active ones, and that’s the best people that you could ever market to, because you have a relationship with them. They already know and remember who you are ’cause it’s been more recent. But, the next group of people that I’d be interested in is how many people have not been in your shop between that 12 month and 24-month period? It’s been a while since they’ve been in the shop, but you need to treat them differently.

Because chances are, they’re not going to come back on their own. I mean, they’re somebody else’s customer right now. Whether you like it or not, they’re not your customer because they’ve had something done to one or more of their vehicles in that time period. Again, your active customers have been in your shop in the past year. The inactive ones, the old ones that you have a chance of getting back ’cause it hasn’t been too long, it hasn’t been 20 or 30 years, it’s only been between a year and two years. We have a chance to get them back in the door. As a matter of fact, that’s the second best group of people that you could ever market.

The first is your current ones, the second are the people that are recently expired, recently straying from you and going to another shop. Now what we want to do is we want to market to them specifically to let them know that hey, you miss them. It’s been a while since they’ve been in the shop, and you want to give them a very specific offer, a bribe, if you’d like, to get them to come back to your shop. Because they’re not coming back on their own. They’ve proven that. It’s been 12, possibly up to 24 months since they’ve seen the inside of your shop, so they’re not coming back on their own.

So you need to bribe them. Now you may be wondering, “Well what should you do?” Well, the best thing to do is look at their purchase history over the life of them doing business with you. Now the people that only stopped in once and took advantage of your Groupon oil change if you did anything silly like that, or just took advantage of a special and they weren’t able to … you weren’t able to sell them anything else. Well, they’re not a really super desirable customer. They’ve been in one time and that was pretty much it. They’re probably shopping, you know, hopping to the next shop and the next shop and next shop. We’re not really too interested and attracted to them.

What we really want to pay attention to are the people that you had a relationship with, that you had multiple contacts with them. And maybe they were coming for five years, and all of a sudden they stopped for one reason or another. Maybe they had a bad experience that you weren’t aware of. Maybe they bought a new car and that might be three or four years ago and now that car needs more service. So you want to do whatever you can to get them back in the door, because chances are they’re going to remember you if you haven’t … if they haven’t been in your shop in the past 24 to 12 months, somewhere in that period.

So send them a really good offer, and the ones that are the great customers, that people have spent thousands of dollars with you over a long period that just stopped, you want to do whatever you can to attract them back in. So I’d pull out all the stops. Do whatever you can to get them back in the door so they are once again your customer instead of somebody else’s. Get very aggressive on those offers, ’cause until you get them back in the door, they’re still somebody else’s customer.

So again, pay attention to your database, the people that have been in your shop in the past year, great. Those are the best people that you’re going to market to because they already know, love, and trust you, and there’s some sort of relationship and they remember who you are. The next group of people that I want you to market to have not been in your shop in the past year, but they haven’t been too far out, so I’d say between 12 and 24 months. Pay attention to them. Send them a letter. Send them a kick-butt offer. Get them back in the shop and get them to be a current customer again.

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