Forget auto parts. Your Product is Trust!


by Anthony Leardi July 25, 2016

Brake pads.  Starters and Alternators.  Wiper Blades.  These are all parts of a machine.  A machine that people rely on for their freedom, income, and raising a family.  If something means so much to your way of life, you’re going to take its well-being seriously.  If a business’ value proposition is price, you might win the game today.  However, to win the long game in a super competitive market such as the automotive aftermarket, it’s important to remember what you’re selling.  And that is trust!

The largest and fastest growing brands and companies in the world are built on the basis of trust.  You trust Uber to provide a convenient and cost-effective ride with a safe and reliable driver.  You trust Airbnb to provide clean, safe, and cost-effective rooms, houses, or even tree-houses.  Each is built on a system of reviews from both the contractor and the user.  Trust continues to transform the way commerce happens. 

Now that all sounds well and good, but how does your automotive business develop more trust?  There are a few key factors:

  • Empower your ambassadors (aka employees)
  • Improve on pitfalls
  • Down-sell: Embrace the value of lifetime customers 

Empower your ambassadors

Employees are your culture’s gateway to consumers.  There is no correct culture to develop.  Not every company should be Google.  However, you must establish your company’s culture.  A large part of that should be how you establish trust with your customers.  In a highly human industry, it’s difficult to manage every employee to perfectly translate your company’s mission and goals.  However, the more clearly you establish and communicate your culture and how it benefits everyone, the more effective your team will communicate. 

You can engrain this in employees' daily by repeating this in your communications, whether it’s vocal, print, or digital. The Rule of 7 says that a person must see or hear a message 7x before they act on that message.

Another great idea is to incentivize team members with extra time or money for performance, whether it’s Employee of the Month, gift cards, or a long weekend.  Remember, if your team isn’t communicating your desired experience, it doesn’t exist.

Improve and fix your pitfalls

It is widely accepted that fixing a bad experience with a customer is more valuable to your company’s brand that a basic satisfactory visit.  At AutoTex we continually say that we might not “bat 1000”, but we can “bat 1000” in terms of service.  Thankfully, customers don’t expect perfection all of the time, but they expect to be taken care of in the case of imperfection. 

With that said, repeating the same imperfection with the same customer will devalue your trust levels.  Mistakes happen, but it’s very important to be self-aware of issues, establish how they happened, and work towards a long-term fix…no band-aids!  An immediate remedy to an issue and a perfect next visit is a great route to building trust.

Down-sell:  Embrace the value of lifetime customers

How many times do we hear the words up-selling?  How many people do you know that truly like to visit car dealerships?  Sometimes the best thing you can do to develop trust is to down-sell your customers.  When a salesman/saleswoman says “you don’t really need that” or “you’ll be very happy with the package you currently have”, I immediately feel that they are thinking in my best interest.  That is the key to trust!  

Now, we’re all in the business of sales and profits.  But, again, the battle is the long-game and growing the lifetime value of customers.  Building that trust with customers and your brand is the largest factor in growing the lifetime value of customers.  Not only does trust improve the lifetime value of current customers, it develops the “I have a someone for you” message that they then communicate with friends and family. 

Conclusion

Play the long-game.  The automotive industry is too competitive.  Selling on price will create a market that's in a race to the bottom.  The companies that develop their company culture, communicate it with their team, and empower their team to do what is right to build trust will be the ones who win.  Be one of the ones that wins!

Now take 15 minutes to learn about how Airbnb, one of the world's fastest growing and largest private companies, was built on trust.




Anthony Leardi
Anthony Leardi

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