For most people, services fall into categories of "normal" or routine--such as getting your haircut, dry cleaning, etc. But, there is another type of service--negative service--that is related to an event that people hope they will not have to deal with (toothache, leaky roof). Collision repair falls into that category.
Since the triggers for these events are not everyday occurrences, people are not prepared to figure out what they need to do, or how to go about best solving the problem. It is difficult for the average Joe (or Jane) to make an informed judgement about what they need. Even after the service has been provided, it is hard to judge if the price paid or the quality of the job are fair.
If you are servicing customers in a negative service category, you have two main obstacles to overcome:
- You have inexperienced customers who do not know how to evaluate your service (and may have a poor idea of the costs)
- You must figure out how to meet customer service when demand is unpredictable
There are still things you can do to expand your market positions and build your competitive advantage.
Build your brand. A strong brand helps make your company top of mind when someone needs repair services. If people are trying to take care of their negative problem quickly, they will begin by looking at firms that are familiar to them.
Provide information. Service providers that are able to show customers in how to evaluate what they’re getting come out ahead. By making sure people have access to information they trust (provided by you, of course) can help people to select you instead of relying on a referral. Your website is a good place to house information of this sort.
Cultivate customers. Establishing a customer base is difficult for negative service providers. Customers hope to avoid needing the service—and have no desire to become regular customers. You can sew the seeds by connecting with a customer base from another business, such as a mechanical repair shop and making sure your name is recognizable to them. Look for a company that you can reciprocate with.
I hope this gives you a new perspective on where your customers are coming from. Turning your "negative" into a positive may be one of the best things you can do!