Table of Contents
- First Impressions Count
- Body Shop Signage
- Your Shop’s Exterior Appearance
- Your Lobby/Reception Area
- Your Shop’s Waiting Area
- Your Facility’s Restrooms
- Your Staff’s Appearance
- Final Thoughts
When was the last time you really looked at your body shop, from the perspective of a customer?
A business can be welcoming to customers, or it can intimidate or confuse them. Let’s go over some ways you can make your shop more appealing.
First Impressions Count
When a customer pulls up in front of your building, what do they see? What impression are you making? Are you immediately planting doubts in their mind, or do they feel good about coming inside?
When you work there everyday, certain things become invisible to you because you’re too familiar with your surroundings. Consider asking a friend or family member to look at your facilities and offer their opinion. You might be surprised at what they say.
You may have heard the saying:
“How you do one thing is how you do everything.”
If it seems like you don’t care about the details of your shop’s appearance, it could give a subtle impression that you won’t tend to the details of a customer’s repair.
Body Shop Signage
You should – at a minimum – have a large sign with your logo that makes it easy to find your business. Depending on your location, this might be a large freestanding sign on a base, or a painted board on your building, or an awning above your office door.
At any rate, it should be clean and easy to read. Ideally you have some lighting as well, whether it’s a spotlight pointing at the sign, or internal lighting.
If your sign is dirty or mildewed, has flaking paint, or is otherwise damaged, it’s time to fix or replace it.
In addition to your primary sign, you might also have signage for customer parking, building signage that clearly directs customers to your office or reception area, and perhaps some more signs to indicate areas for the tow-in lot, customer pick-up area, and so on.
If you look at MSOs and consolidators’ facilities, you’ll notice that their signage is typically very professional looking.
Your Shop’s Exterior Appearance
As with your signage, make sure your building exterior makes a good impression. If there’s junk, trash, or weeds does it inspire confidence, or send people the other way?
What the outside of your facility looks like gives people a sense of what the inside looks like. It may be time to give your buildings a paint job or a powerwash, and new striping in the parking lot.
Don’t give prospects a reason to drive on past to the next shop.
Your Lobby/Reception Area
Once a person decides to walk into your collision repair shop what do they see when they enter the building? Ideally they walk into a well-lit, clean interior.
I’m no interior designer, but a dirty office won’t cut it. Maybe your shop has been open since the 60s, and has outdated wood paneling on all the walls. That’s not a deal-killer as long as everything is tidy and clean.
Maybe you’ve remodeled recently and have bright floors, interior signage, and a welcoming front desk. Display brochures about your repair planning process, and plaques with your certifications on the walls.
Show off any community assets, like photos from a youth sports sponsorship, framed newspaper and magazine clippings, or charity events you’ve participated in.
Your Shop’s Waiting Area
Whether you have a full-blown waiting room or a few chairs along a wall, make sure it’s tidy and comfortable. While most people just scroll on their phones nowadays, you may still have some magazines for people to read. These shouldn’t be 5 years old and faded by sun exposure. They should also appeal to a variety of interests, not just the auto industry.
Better yet, skip the magazines altogether, and post a sign with your guest wi-fi network name and password.
Your Facility’s Restrooms
If you have public restrooms, then by all means, make sure they’re clean.
If you have restrooms that are primarily for staff, but occasionally used by customers… then by all means, make sure they're clean!
A restroom used by 10 different guys can be traumatizing, so don’t let that be the thing that customers talk about after a visit.
Your Staff’s Appearance
Most customers are going to work with an estimator or receptionist. Anyone that’s customer-facing should be presentable of course. This could be as simple as clean clothes and freshly showered, but why not take it up a notch, and have your front-office team dress in shop-branded polo shirts, with your logo?
Having everyone dress consistently is just one more little detail that adds up to a positive impression of your business’ level of professionalism.
It should be obvious that when someone walks in they are greeted quickly and with a smile, but customer service varies tremendously from one shop to the next.
Will your collision repair shop’s aesthetics be a dealbreaker for your customers? It’s unlikely.
Adding new exterior signage and doing a complete renovation of your front-office won't bring in more customers on its own. We’re talking about first impressions here, and it’s yet another component of marketing and branding.
The takeaway is this - look at your facilities and see what you can do to make a good impression on your customers. It may be a new sign or it may be hiring a cleaning service to come in once a week.
You only get one first impression, so make it count.
Need help marketing your collision repair shop? Contact us now!
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