Table of Contents
- Why You Need Your Customers’ Emails
- How to Collect Email Addresses
- How to Use Customer Email Addresses
- Final Thoughts
For many body shops, a customer relationship is a short-term transaction. A customer brings in their vehicle after a collision, they have it repaired, and you may not hear from them again, unless they need another repair.
If they experience this as nothing more than a necessary transaction, there’s no loyalty or reason to come back to your shop next time, aside from being satisfied with your work.
Something as simple as getting your customer’s email address can open up a variety of options for your shop to improve their experience during a repair, and to stay top-of-mind afterwards.
Why You Need Your Customers’ Emails
Simply put - if you don’t have a person’s email address, then you can’t email them. And you should be emailing your customers, for any of a number of reasons. Some examples:
Repair Status Updates
Whether you do it manually, or through your shop management software, emailing your customers when their repair status changes is a great way to keep them informed. Nobody wants to drop off their car and get no feedback from the shop, or have to call in to check. Being proactive on these communications will improve your customers’ experience - and also save you time.
Request Feedback or Reviews
After you’ve completed a repair, you want to know if your team has exceeded expectations or dropped the ball somewhere in the repair process. Having this feedback tells you whether your shop is a fine-tuned machine, or if there are areas for improvement.
Email your customers to ask for ratings, reviews, and testimonials. There are several automated systems that can handle this for you, which can not only collect this feedback, but guide customers to leave reviews on Google, Facebook, and other platforms, so that other people can see that your shop is highly rated. Ratings and reviews are strong digital currency!
Post-Repair Followup Emails
By using a shop management system or an email marketing system, you can trigger an email, or even a series of automated emails, that get sent out at certain points after a repair is complete. For example, you might send a “Thank You” email the day of pickup, and a followup a week after, and another a month after.
In these emails you can once again thank them for their business, explain how their satisfaction and safety is important to you, and maybe include some tips on taking care of new paint or point to some relevant posts on your body shop’s blog.
If your shop offers any ancillary services like detailing or spray-on bedliners, you can send occasional promotions for these services. For example, if you want to promote your detail department, and get people to act quickly, you can email your customer list an offer to schedule a detail in the next two days for a discount.
Or you can send an email version of your “All Our Services” flyer, which lets your customers know all about the services you offer. You may be surprised to discover that existing customers were unaware of your full service list!
Anytime there’s a serious storm in your area, you can send out a helpful, relevant email to customers. For example, after a hail storm, send out an FAQ about how paintless dent repair is a fast and inexpensive way to repair hail damage. After a heavy snowfall, send out a reminder on safe winter driving, and that you’re there to help in case of a collision. After heavy rains and flooding, email some information about what to do if you’ve driven through deep water or your car is literally flooded. Customers appreciate the timely advice.
You may think “who would read an email newsletter from a body shop?” and that’s a fair question! But, as long as you send relevant information and don’t overdo it, people will read it.
You can share anything that’s useful to your customers, such as car care tips or community information. If you are sponsoring a local little league team or doing a Christmas Benevolence Car Giveaway, these are perfect topics to share. Also, facility upgrades like new paint booths, or welcoming new techs or employees to your team are worth sharing, but be sure to explain how it improves your business, and how it helps your customers.
Facebook Custom Audience
If you do any Facebook advertising or you plan to, having an email list can help you reach your customers in those ads. Facebook allows you to upload a customer list of emails to create a “custom audience”. Once you start running ads, you can use the list to target existing customers and others who share similar traits.
How to Collect Email Addresses
The best way to get your customer’s email address is to simply ask for it! Don’t make it a big deal, just take it down with their name and phone number as a regular part of your contact records. If they don’t want to share it, that’s fine too.
There are other ways too. If you have forms on your website, like a simple contact form or a Request an Estimate form (or mobile app), make sure “customer email” is a required field.
If your website has a chat feature, this is another easy place to request email addresses. Many chat systems have an option to automatically ask for a name and an email address “in case we get disconnected”. Use it to gather customer and prospect emails.
There’s no downside to having the addresses, so get as many as you can so you can stay in touch with your prospects and customers.
How to Use Customer Email Addresses
A shop management system, such as CCC One, can send out emails on your behalf as repairs progress, so if you have that capability, it’s to your benefit that you use it.
If you don’t already have a system with this feature, you can manually email people individually, but that becomes impractical and unwieldy. In this case, it makes much more sense to use an email marking tool or email automation system. These tools aren’t specific to collision repair shops - they are generic systems that can be adapted to your needs.
There are hundreds of examples, but popular services include Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, AWeber, and Hubspot. Some of these systems do more than just email, some of them let you create automations, landing pages, forms, and more.
Once your customers are loaded into a system, you can send emails to all of them, or segment them into smaller “buckets’ such as those who own trucks, or people who drive luxury cars, or specific brands. The more data you collect, the more you can use it to send precisely targeted emails.
No matter what you send, be sure to include your body shop custom email signature.
If you aren’t collecting your customers’ email addresses, start doing it today! Even if you don’t need it now, when you decide to ramp up your marketing, you’ll be happy you had it.
Ready to start using email marketing in your auto body shop? Get in touch today.
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