Iconic auto repair franchise rolls out initiatives to improve customer experience and drive profitability for AAMCO franchise owners
AAMCO, one of the nation’s first franchise systems, has built a well-deserved and enduring reputation for trust with the American public over the past 50 years. While AAMCO is established as the worldwide leader for transmission repair, the rise of the Internet has presented opportunities for AAMCO to connect with a new generation of consumers and drive AAMCO’s legacy forward for the next 50 years.
With this goal in mind, AAMCO rolled out its New Customer Experience initiative, a multi-tiered strategy designed to make the in-store experience more attractive to consumers and more profitable for franchise owners.
“We wanted to position our brand to win in the new economy to ensure that AAMCO is successful for the next 50 years,” says Brett Ponton, CEO and President with AAMCO. “We wanted to reengineer our in-store experience for consumers to ensure that our customers felt like they had options and choices for services on their vehicle.”
How AAMCO is “Winning the Internet”
To remain a vital, competitive and relevant brand, AAMCO has devised a strategy to Win Online — from the first time a consumer types in a Google search for “auto repair” in their local area to after their car has been repaired and they leave their local AAMCO franchise an online review. The Internet has helped make clear to consumers what AAMCO has always known: every step of the customer experience matters.
“The rise of the Internet has had an enormous effect on how consumers are making their purchasing decisions and which brands they choose to purchase from,” says Rob Rajkowski, COO with AAMCO. “Eighty-nine percent of consumers who read online reviews admit that it influences their decision to make a purchase, 79% of consumers believe the reviews as much as word of mouth — think about that. Online reviews have become the new referral.”
This is how AAMCO wins new customers and increases the ability of our franchise owners to make sales:
Be available: Every AAMCO franchise has a website that is accessible, easy-to-understand and explains our service offering in detail. New customers can click to request a quote, get directions and find coupons.
Be relevant: Every AAMCO website is optimized with SEO keywords to ensure that our franchise owners are easily found by consumers searching for auto repair. If there is an AAMCO center in the area and customers search for “auto maintenance,” “auto repair” or any number of relevant phrases, the local AAMCO franchise will be one of the first, if not the first, businesses to come up.
Be trustworthy: AAMCO made a significant investment to partner with Reputation.com to control and monitor the level of customer feedback online. AAMCO franchisees are outfitted with a kiosk to allow customers to give feedback. If the feedback is positive, it is published online. If the feedback isn’t good, it never makes it out to the customer review web sites but stays on our internal dashboard so that our franchise owners have deeper insight into how they can improve their customer service.
“Since we launched our partnership with Reputation.com, our star rating on Google has risen from the middle 3’s to 4.2,” Rob says. “It’s a tremendous improvement, as people are far more likely to purchase from a brand that is viewed as trustworthy online. Once the customer has a good experience, we are able to leverage our new mobile phone app to draw customers back. Customers who download the app get updates as to where stage of repair their vehicle is in, as well as the maintenance history of their vehicle, updates on promotions. This tool allows our franchise owners to communicate directly to our customers and plays to our main focus: winning customers for life.”
AAMCO is rolling out a new financing program
To provide our customers with more options, AAMCO is in the process of rolling out a national consumer financing platform. By simply filling out information on a website or through a kiosk found in an AAMCO center lobby, customers with good credit, bad credit or no credit are able to find a solution that suits their budgets. AAMCO now has the tools to deliver a financing option that meets their needs and eases the financial burden of a major purchase.
“We are pleased that we have put together a pretty compelling, easy-to-execute financing program that allows our franchise owners to close more sales and provide better service and support to their customer base,” Brett says.
At around $2,500 for a single transmission rebuild, transmission repair remains one of the most expensive maintenance repair jobs a vehicle owner can expect to pay for in the lifetime of a vehicle. By offering both a strategy to combat the sticker shock and a way to ease the burden of payment, AAMCO’s new consumer financing platform has enjoyed success right out of the gate.
“We set out to find better consumer financing options to help our franchise owners convert more jobs into profit and sales, while at the same time serve their customers in a much better way,” says Jim Gregory, CFO with AAMCO. “The platforms we have launched nationally, have improved the number of credit approvals to our customers, and have also increased the average approval amounts significantly. We are very pleased with these consumer financing options, as they help our franchise owners increase their level profitability.”
The time to open an AAMCO franchise is now
AAMCO is actively seeking single- and multi-unit operators who are passionate about the brand and committed to providing the highest-quality service. Interested candidates should have a minimum net worth of $250,000 and liquid assets of at least $65,000 per unit. Depending on the real estate selected, franchisees can expect the total investment to be approximately $227,400-$333,000, with a $39,500 initial franchise fee. Reduced franchise fees are available for honorably discharged veterans. Since the auto repair franchise began offering a discounted pathway to veterans through its VetFran program in 2012, seven US veterans have joined the AAMCO franchise owner network.
“For the AAMCO brand to remain successful going forward, we need engaged owner-operators who are excited and passionate about this business,” Brett says. “It is extremely important in the Total Car Care marketplace, which is our space, to have very customer-focused owner operators who love to build teams and are passionate about our great national brand. Our auto repair franchise owners find success in making our national brand feel very local as they serve the communities around their stores.”
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