Word-of-mouth advertising is powerful – you can’t beat a personal recommendation from a trusted friend. An online referral programme for your workshop can have a similar effect – offer customers an incentive and you can encourage them to spread the word about your workshop to people who will trust and listen to them.
According to global data analysts Nielsen, people are four times more likely to buy when recommended by a friend.
A referral programme can generate business for the workshop and reward customers for doing the work of finding those leads for you. What’s more, the leads that a referral programme creates are more likely to result in sales because your customers have shared the news about your workshop with people who they feel – or know – may be interested.
But how do you go about creating a successful, manageable programme for an auto repair workshop with real-time results? Here’s a guide to using digital and social media to create a simple referral programme.
1. Create an offer
Imagine you are a customer. Think what kind of incentives would interest you. Think of incentives offered by shops and services that you use, which have driven you to make a purchase.
All customers appreciate a discount, so an obvious benefit is to offer an existing customer a money-off voucher on their next visit if they refer a customer to you. The simpler the offer, the better. Your goal is to make the process of referring new customers to your workshop and earning rewards as easy as possible.
You may be happier offering a discount on specific purchases, so you can encourage greater take-up on services you offer, rather than offering a general discount on any bill. Some ideas for a more specific offer would be:
- A half-price oil change
- A free oil change when you purchase an emission/safety test
- A free oil change for any repair that is above a given value
- A free or reduced cost tire rotation with the purchase of another service
- A percentage off a specific service (for example, £20 off a tune-up)
Of course, the key to getting money-off vouchers to work for you is to get them into the hands of your customers. Adding them to customer communications such as invoices and follow-up emails is ideal as these are messages that the customer needs and wants to receive.
2. Make the offer easily shareable
The fewer hoops your customer has to jump through, the better. Even the most loyal of customers won’t want to take you up on your offer if they sign up for your referral programme and then find out there are too many steps to complete.
The simplest referral process of all is the post-purchase referral. According to referral programme makers Extole, customers are 16x more likely to share a referral if there is a call to action on the post-purchase pages.
The post-purchase referral can take the form of a simple ‘Share’ button at the bottom of an electronic invoice that enables the customer to share a discount voucher with a friend.
3. Promote your referral programme
Having created an enticing offer for your workshop and made it easily shareable, you need to make the most of the work you’ve done so far by promoting it. One of the best ways to do this is via email. You could start by sending an email to all customers on your mailing list, letting them know about the offer, and/or if you have a good following on a social media channel, post an announcement there.
Here’s some suggested referral benefits and copy that you can adapt, or use, to get you thinking about how you could introduce, describe and promote your referral programme.
“Refer a Friend and Be Rewarded at [insert the name of your workshop] we appreciate any referrals to our business. That’s why we’ve developed a programme to reward customers who send their friends, family, neighbours and co-workers to our shop for auto repair. [Insert the name of your workshop] customers can enjoy the following benefits of our referral programme:
Bronze Referral Benefits:
If you refer one person to our workshop, we will reward you with a free oil change.
Silver Referral Benefits:
If you refer four people to our workshop within one year, you will receive free oil changes for a year.
Gold Referral Benefits:
If you refer eight people to our workshop within one year, you will receive free oil changes for a year AND 10% off repairs and services.
Simply fill out the attached referral form and bring it to the workshop when you come in for your next service. Please note, the customer you referred must be a new customer to [Insert the name of your workshop] and must have spent a minimum of £50 with us.”
Giving it a go?
Creating a referral programme for your workshop doesn't have to be a hugely time-consuming project. In fact, the simpler it is, the better. And for the relatively little effort it takes, it can bring more loyalty and more customers to your workshop.