Having such a large sales territory, I have the gratifying responsibility to travel North America and see shop owners and installers in all different regions and territories. It’s interesting to see that every market has something different to offer or a set standard for paint protection film that varies from other areas.
Take Colorado, for example. Installers there have a set standard of doing uppers (partial hoods, partial fenders and mirrors) with 18-inch or 12-inch material. Dealers there don’t do a ton of bumpers but find a lot of success selling uppers. Colorado also has the best penetration rate at the new car dealer level than any place in the U.S. Clearly, whatever they’re doing there is working. That’s just one state, though.
A Common Disconnect
With all the success out there in Colorado comes a lot of competition of varying shop sophistication. Some guys are freelancers, mobile installers and some have brick and mortar companies, but when broken down piece by piece, there’s typically a disconnect between operations, sales and customer service of those businesses. It’s very difficult for a one-man operation to juggle all his hats efficiently and successfully without a little help. Even small companies with less than 12 staff members deal with the same issues. Let’s look at the three major “food groups” of the PPF business structure: sales, operations and customer service.
Start with Sales
Sales is the toughest part of the business. Leads or prospects can be generated in a number of ways, but what do you do once you have that lead? Not everyone is a salesperson but you can fake it to make it with some simple procedures put in place to allow for anyone to fill in that role temporarily. Asking leads questions gets them to talk, let their guard down and develop rapport with you before you get to the last stages of the sales process. Come up with a script so you or an employee can repeat the same questions each time. Ultimately you want to lock them in for an appointment and possibly a deposit to seal the deal, which I recommend highly on the retail side. Streamlining things doesn’t work for every lead, but it will bring a consistency to the process so the prospect’s experience is similar every time.
Another good part of the sales process is standardizing your pricing model. Have a few packages to offer and set a price for each one no matter what size or type the car is. It makes quoting so much faster and easier. The overall goal of this is to get the customer to lock in with you and not take the worst of their two other options: going to a competitor that offers standardized pricing standard or waiting for you to call them back with a quote. Consumers would like to get their answers when they have you on the phone. If they have to wait, they’ll call your competitor.
Operations is the next important business aspect. It is essential to have a standard operating procedure (SOP). Put a SOP in place that not only works but also fills the needs of every aspect of the business. This makes it easier to run the business efficiently and as a whole, even while trying to accomplish several tasks at once. A SOP covers everything from booking the appointment, cutting the film and even collecting payment or a deposit. Create a structure that gives a smooth experience not just to your customer, but you as the business.
Here’s my SOP for preparing a car for installation:
- Shampoo the car;
- Remove any hard-caked on contaminants with adhesive remover;
- Clay bar the surface; and
- Rinse with Alcohol, 70 percent IPA.
I do this every time and it makes the surface clean consistently.
Last, but certainly not least is customer service. This is where a lot of business owners miss a few steps, though not on purpose. Installers by trade and by habit are juggling a lot of things at once and can sometimes forget some of the details in the customer service department. Sometimes it’s not going over the actual install to make sure they’re happy with it. It could also be sending a follow-up email to check on the car after a week to make sure everything cured out. How about filling out the warranty card for them and giving it with the invoice and care instructions? It could even be as simple as shaking their hand and thanking them for their business. The best recommendation I can give you is setup an experience for your customer so that they not only want to come back to you for their next car, but also refer their friends, family and co-workers. Word-of-mouth marketing is best.
I know we’re scratching the surface with this discussion, but that’s the point. Think about how you can spruce up your procedures. Challenge yourself, tweak some and come up with some ideas to make it better. Exceed expectations every day!
National Sale Manager and Head Trainer, PremiumShield