The body shop industry has been adapting to the changing times driven by the recent growth in the electric car market, and the push towards “greener”, safer transportation around the world. For example, electric car sales has nearly doubled in Canada with close to 35,000 units sold by the end of September. European countries have also seen an uptrend in hybrids last year.
With so much going on in the auto industry, shop owners are scrambling to stay current with their customers. Let’s look at some of the factors that will change the way we do business in the auto body industry and how a customer relationship management software can help better serve your customers.
“Green” Cars Are on the Rise
Green cars are becoming more popular over the years, and we might see an influx of buyers and customers in the not-so-distant future. Technology is starting to mature on these high-tech vehicles with significant improvement in speed, acceleration, range, and power efficiency compared to their predecessors.
Hybrids and fully-electric cars have come a long way, and now we have Plug-in Electric vehicles (PEV) like Tesla Model 3 leading the charge (no pun intended). Major companies like Toyota, Ford, and BMW are also digging in to get their share in this emerging market. We could see more adoption in the near future as competition grows and PEVs diversify to meet various needs (Think Nissan Leaf hatchback, Jaguar I-PACE SUV, and Rivian R1T pickup truck)
Its Impact on the Auto Body Industry
Working with hybrids and electric cars is in many ways different from conventional methods. Body shops will have to work with aluminum more often which requires specialized training and a separate facility for aluminum collision repairs. Same applies to gas-driven cars by Ford and GM which are also using much lighter aluminum over conventional steel to increase MPG.
Body shops will also need an entirely different skill set for dealing with electrical components like the induction motor, inverter, battery pack, electronic sensors, etc., as well as OEM certification when servicing these parts. The question is, would it be worth putting the extra time and money? Note: electric vehicles also requires maintenance despite having less moving parts.
The Solution: Be Quick to Adapt to Customer’s Needs
Regardless of how big or small your business is, your ability to quickly adapt and stay current with your customers is the key to surviving a fast-changing environment. Here’s what you can do to help prepare your auto body shop business.
Research the market. Check the stats in your area. Do you have a large enough market to justify the cost of upgrade, or are they pretty much a niche market as of this time? Looking at the charts, we can see, for example, how electric vehicle sales in Ontario grew by 209 percent last year, followed by British Columbia and Quebec at 151 and 131 percent, respectively.
Given these numbers, there’s a fair chance of customer demand for maintenance and collision repairs in hybrids and electric vehicles (EV). However, this may not be the case in countries on the other side of the world, where people might actually buy good old gas-driven cars to take advantage of price cuts as demand for oil starts to dwindle. Either way, always be ready to take action when opportunity presents itself.
Invest in technology. Whether you’re dealing with older vehicles or high-tech EVs, it is worth investing in technologies that will help increase efficiency and productivity for your business. You can either choose to upgrade your auto body shop to serve a broader range of customers or increase throughputs by adding more bays and introducing IR curing systems. You can also improve other aspects of your business such as keeping track of your customers’ job order, in which case, you’re going to need a CRM to help you stay on-schedule.
Let people know you’re in business. After spending considerable amount of time and resources upgrading and improving your services, people need a way to know about it. Small Business Dream suite of tools helps business owners by offering a cost-effective way to reach out potential customers in multiple channels using automation (email autoresponders), semi-automation (email templates and phone script), social media marketing, and other useful features such as client acquisition (landing page and sales funnel), A/B testing, survey builder, and so on.
Stay in touch with your customers. Your current customers are an important source of information to help push your business forward. Throw out a survey from time to time to get into your customers’ head. Are they keen to have an electric vehicle in the future? If so, which model and make are they most interested in? Would they prefer to have both types (legacy and EV) for specific purposes? You can get a lot of useful feedback by just using Small Business Dream’s survey builder. Or, you can have them sign up to your auto body shop newsletter to keep them updated with your latest upgrades and services so they never miss out on anything and keep your business top-of-mind.
Learn more on how you can successfully build your auto body shop business at SmallBizDream.com and start using our suite of tools to increase your sales and profitability like never before.