How to reduce no-show auto repair appointments
You’ve probably already heard of the old saying, “Time is gold.”
This old adage is more accurate than ever in today’s fast-paced, competitive environment. If you’re running a business, a single minute of downtime is like throwing money away.
That’s why if a potential client misses an appointment, you’re not just feeling the inconvenience and annoyance of it. It’s literally affecting your bottom line.
Downtime and idle employees are bad news for businesses with tight margins and those who calculate salaries based on time spent on client work, namely the auto repair industry.
If you want to maintain an efficient business, auto repair professionals should focus on minimizing losses. This means avoiding some of the most significant time wasters in your business: missed appointments and last-minute no-shows.
Luckily, with Broadly, you can fine-tune your business operations to curtail these losses.
Free Guide: How To Overcome Top Challenges For Auto Shop Owners in 2023
Tips for preventing missed appointments
Missed appointments can cause auto repair providers plenty of grief.
When a client misses an appointment, businesses lose a lot of things:
- Time spent waiting for them
- Time that could’ve been spent on a different customer
- Potential income
Thus, it’s essential to improve your appointment setting practices to minimize instances of missed appointments. If you can target the right behaviors and employ solid strategies, reducing no-show appointments is a breeze.
Use an online scheduling system
One of the most basic yet impactful things you can do is improve your scheduling system.
Outdated businesses use the three Ps to book an appointment: pen, paper, and phone.
Unfortunately, these methods are incredibly inefficient. They require staff to be continually on-call at the workplace and prevent you from reacting appropriately when there’s a change in your customer’s schedule.
After all, it’s easy to forget something that you merely wrote down in your paper notebook. If your customer fails to show up, you may not even notice until it’s too late.
That’s why online scheduling systems are now taking over several industries. They present solid use cases and undeniable advantages, such as the following:
- Better access. Online scheduling systems don’t rely on your shop’s business hours and receptionist availability for appointment scheduling – customers can book and reschedule appointments whenever they think of it.
- Increased customer base. Today’s customers prefer the seamless and hassle-free experience that online automated appointments bring, compared to the inconvenience of calling during business hours.
- More scheduling flexibility. When customers schedule online, they can easily see your available appointment slots and compare them to their own calendar to avoid scheduling conflicts. It’s more streamlined than haggling appointment times with a receptionist.
- Reduces staff workload. Using scheduling software means that you don’t need to assign multiple employees to wait for phone calls. This means that you can use your people-power for more important things, such as improving the quality of your trade.
- Improved customer experience. The seamless appointment setting and flexible scheduling enabled by online platforms make it easier for your customers to keep coming back to your auto business.
The healthcare industry already uses online scheduling platforms for patient appointment reminders to reduce the chances of missed appointments and patient no-shows. According to Zippia, 67% of patients preferred online booking over phone calls.
While under vastly different industries, healthcare organizations and auto repair shops both tend to suffer from high no-show rates. Both industries can benefit greatly from an online appointment scheduling to reduce no-show appointments.
You’re probably already reminding your customers about their upcoming appointment, but you know the hassle this can bring.
This is especially true in instances where you have many people booked, and each of them requires a phone call, email, or text message to be reminded of their next appointment. It’s plenty of tedious administrative work, which is nevertheless critical to your operations.
But there’s a better way to conduct this, and that’s through automated reminder systems. Instead of your making your staff labor over their mobile and landline phones, these important appointment reminders can be done through software, freeing up time and resources to focus on improving your service.
Automated reminders have plenty of tangible benefits, such as the following.
- Effectivity. As mentioned above, healthcare providers have used automated reminders while improving patient satisfaction. Zippia says primary healthcare providers and other professionals can reduce patient no-shows by about 29% with automated reminders. This concept can easily apply to the auto industry.
- Customizability. Your customer might want their reminders set at certain times of the day, or they might prefer SMS text messages over email. Having customizable reminders is particularly effective in dealing with difficult customers.
- Personalized. You can schedule habitually late clients to different time slots with personalization and adjust your reminders accordingly. This minimizes gaps in your scheduled appointments by working around clients’ habitual tardiness or forgetfulness.
- Works for multiple channels. Unlike phone calls, automated reminders can work with chatbots, email, social media, and text messages. There’s no shortage of communication channels to reach your client.
- Additional contact avenue. Automated messages provide you with another customer touchpoint with your clients. Even if you forget to contact them via phone call, they will be reminded through your automated software.
- Applicable to other operations. Automatic reminders can also remind customers of bills, registration requirements, account balance notifications, and more.
Healthcare providers have successfully used these strategies to increase patient engagement. Certainly, auto-industry professionals can employ the same techniques to build strong relationships with customers.
Implement no-show penalties
Charging a no-show fee is another way to reduce no-show appointments in your shop.
Penalties do three things:
- Disincentivizes absences. Clients will be less likely to cancel their appointments without notice because they know they’ll be charged a fee.
- Compensates you for your time. You’re losing time and money when waiting around for a customer who doesn’t show up. No-show penalties can minimize lost revenue.
- Reinforces professionalism. When you have no-show penalties, you say that your time is important and that your customers should respect it. Consequently, you’re signaling that you take your auto-repair business very seriously, which can help your brand image.
You can charge no-show penalties in terms of percentages to strike the perfect balance between recovering lost time and reducing no-show appointments. For example, you can charge 30% of the appointment cost if the cancellation was made a day in advance and 50% if there was no notice of cancellation.
The details of your exact policy are up to you. Make sure that your no-show policy is clearly communicated when the appointment is made and with each appointment reminder.
Also, remember that you’re still in the business of building good relationships with your customers. It’s a good idea to include provisions for waiving the fee for first-time offenses by loyal customers or in the case of provable emergencies. Don’t let a rigid appointment policy ruin a customer relationship.
How to handle no-shows
Knowing how to deal with demanding customers is one of the hallmarks of a true businessman. If you haven’t encountered them yet, you haven’t really entered the world of customer service.
That said, talking about missed appointments can be a point of conflict for most customers, so you need to know the right strategies for handling these situations. This section will discuss everything you need to know about handling no-shows.
Contacting the customer
The first phase in handling clients with missed appointments is by contacting them and asking why. This can be a sensitive situation, especially if you approach it from a confrontational angle.
To avoid confrontation disasters, follow these steps.
- First, try reaching the customer through a phone call. Phone calls are powerful communicators because it allows you to project more than just words, helping you reinforce a good relationship. If you have your customer’s phone number, this is the first thing you should try.
- Be mindful of your tone when talking. Make sure that your tone isn’t accusatory and express genuine concern for their well-being. Also, be courteous in your word choices.
- Understand why they didn’t show up. Ask about why they missed their appointment and take note of it. Be patient when the customer is trying to explain their problem.
- Analyze missed appointment trends. It’s critical to record the information you get from these phone calls. With this, you can study trends that you can use to improve the cadence of your automated reminders.
- Send a follow-up email. Keep in touch by sending a follow-up email thanking them for their time and patience.
This phase of maintaining customer relations is crucial. If your customer feels affronted, they might cancel their upcoming appointments and take their business elsewhere.
However, it’s still important to communicate because you need to understand the reasons for their absences if you want to improve your business. Thus, train yourself and your staff to follow these steps.
Maintaining the relationship
A trick that healthcare providers use to enhance patient engagement and encourage return visits is to keep in touch outside of the clinic. This works because healthcare is inherently an intimate profession – you need to trust the professional who takes care of your physical body.
Vehicle repair shops are in a similar situation. Auto mechanics are viewed as generally untrustworthy by a large portion of the population, so you need to be extra attentive if you want your customers to truly trust you.
When you send them greeting cards for special occasions like birthdays and weddings, you’re letting your customers know that you’re seeing them as real people, not just business prospects.
That said, this idea extends beyond a couple of greeting cards and to the general treatment of your customers.
Here are some tips on what you can do to cement your relationship with your customers.
- Thank them for coming in on time or canceling ahead of time
- Send out special occasion greetings with a limited time discount for services
- Distribute an email newsletter about tips and tricks to maintain their car
- Never overcharge or underdeliver
- Give incentives for new customer referrals
- Consistently provide excellent customer service
The more you value your clients and their loyalty, the more likely you are to succeed in reducing no-show appointments.
Avoid scheduling mishaps with Broadly
Broadly is a reputation management platform that helps you in setting up a website for success. It has many solutions for businesses that want to focus on delivering quality service instead of getting bogged down by administrative tasks.
With Broadly’s features in your arsenal, you can reduce service wait times, minimize missed appointments, and improve the customer experience.
See what Broadly can do for your business in just 30 days