What information do you capture from your customers? We bet it is not enough.

BMW M3 on a Track

How many detailers do you think are familiar with the concept of a customer relationship management tool, or CRM? My guess is a small percentage. And even fewer detailers are leveraging a CRM system to grow their business. You may be familiar with the most basic form of a CRM, a spreadsheet with your customer’s names, contact information, and maybe some basic information about their vehicles or services you performed. Most detailers do not realize how much money they are leaving on the table by not properly utilizing a CRM tool. But before you can leverage a CRM tool, you need to be collecting the right information. This article is the first of many around customer relationships and will focus on what information should you be recording from your customers.

Always Be Ready to Take Notes

First of all. When you are talking to a client, whether in person or over the phone, you should always have a pen and paper in your hand. We recommend carrying around a small notepad everywhere you go, even if you eventually end up transferring those notes to your computer. You don’t want to appear rude or disengaged trying to take notes on your cell phone. Use pen and paper, it’s more professional and personal.

Detailers we work with always have a client intake form handy and this is a great place to keep notes as you are working on a car. Our template has a built-in spot for notes and prompting questions to ask every customer.

So what information should you be writing down as you talk to or interact with a customer? Let’s walk through an example. As a practice exercise, write down what information you would have normally recorded in this scenario. Seriously, grab a pen a paper before moving on to try this exercise because once you read further, you won’t be able to compare notes.

First Contact

A potential customer calls you and was referred to you by John Smith, a loyal customer of yours, and inquires about your exterior detailing services. They are in a rush so you don’t get to chat too long, but you catch that their first name is Paul and you have their phone number on your caller ID. You set up a day and time to look at the vehicle to give a proper estimate for the work. As you hang up, you realize you don’t even know what type of vehicle it is!

In-Person Assessment

Paul meets you in person and you get to look over the car. Without having to ask, you see that the car is a BMW M3 with an exhaust, custom rims, and you can tell there is suspension work done to the car. Because of the modifications, you ask the customer if he tracks the car, he says yes. That typically means he has another vehicle, so you ask, what’s your daily driver? He replies, oh I have an older X3, but sometimes I drive my wife’s E-class Mercedes.

As you look over the car, you can tell it’s in need of some polishing because there are a lot of swirl marks in the paint so you ask him if he washes his vehicles himself or takes them to a car wash. He informs you he has a monthly pass to the local car wash.

His phone rings and he has to go. He tells you to send him your recommendations and a price. You ask him for his email address. He writes it down and drives off as you grin ear-to-ear from the sound of the exhaust.

What Information was Valuable to You?

Whether you realized it or not, you just received a ton of valuable information. Did you see it all? What services would you pitch in this scenario? What did you learn about this customer? What information would you record? And what follow-ups would you make note of? Again, write down your answers before reading. Here are a few things that come to mind:

  • His first name is Paul
  • His phone number is on your caller ID as 555.555.5555
  • He was referred by John Smith
  • You want to create an action item to follow up with John Smith — thanking him and perhaps offering him a discount on his next service
  • Paul’s primary vehicle is his BMW M3
  • Paul’s second vehicle is a BMW X3
  • Set a reminder to follow up with Paul with an offer to detail his X3
  • Paul is married
  • Paul’s wife’s car is a Mercedes E-class
  • Make a note to ask about his wife next time you talk to him, and ask about detailing the Mercedes
  • Mark Paul down as a multi-vehicle contact
  • One of Paul’s hobbies is tracking his M3
  • Educate Paul that the reason his paint is so swirled up is because of the local car wash
  • Pitch a wheel coating service to help protect his custom wheels and clean the excessive brake dust from tracking the car
  • Pitch a polishing service to remove the swirls
  • Pitch installing paint protection film since he tracks the vehicle
  • Offer Paul a maintenance package to get him away from using the local car wash
  • Paul wrote down his email address as [email protected]
  • Paul’s last name is probably Jones

What else did you find to write down? Can you think of some new questions that might draw more information out of Paul? Here are three to get you thinking.

  1. Do you have a group of car enthusiasts you track your M3 with?
  2. What do you do for a living?
  3. How do you know John Smith?

This is the mindset you need to have when talking to every customer. We drive home the importance of capturing this information this with every detailer we work with. The next step of the process is recording this information in a usable system. As mentioned earlier, this could be as simple as a spreadsheet, or CRM tool. Look for the next article on this topic and we’ll begin to show you how to organize all of this information and use it to drive repeat business, referrals, and reviews for your business. If you cannot wait for that article to be published and want to explore an affordable CRM (less than $20/month) that we have found works well for detailers, contact us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.