Although most of our blog has to do with serious issues regarding the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, from time to time we think it is advisable to touch base with some of our station owners and regular blog readers on some other issues of importance to smog stations in this great state.
Making Your SMOG Station Consumer-Friendly
For example, let’s brainstorm some tips on how to promote your SMOG station. Let’s be real: to the consumer, who has received a notification from the California Department of motor vehicles, it doesn’t really matter where he goes to SMOG his car. What is he interested in? First and foremost, convenience. Many Californians are very busy people, especially in the big urban areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles basin, and they are not as much price-sensitive as time-sensitive. They want either an easy appointment, or a quick check-in, they would like to get their car smogged, and be on their way. This implies that it is very important to indicate in your advertising and promotional materials that you are very speedy and able to do a smog check in an efficient way.
Second, people are of course, sensitive to price. They view the SMOG check as a hassle and they are interested only in getting their certificates, transmitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles, so therefore be sure to indicate that you are very inexpensive when it comes to SMOG checks, within your ability to be as cheap as possible. Indeed, if you offer other repair services, you might look at using your SMOG check as what is called a loss leader. You want to use it to get people into your shop, impress them with your professionalism, and then they will come back for other services such as oil changes and auto repairs. If you are a SMOG only station, then this is a different issue. In that case you might promote just the convenience, and not try to compete on price.
Third, of course, people want to pass. Now, within the limits of the law, there is nothing that you can really do. The car either passes or it doesn’t pass. But, you should indicate, for example, that if the car fails, you can help that consumer get the repairs that they need in a timely fashion. All of this, of course, should be done within the limits of the law. But, to the average consumer, this is just seen as a big hassle. So try to make it as easy as possible if a car fails, to point the consumer in the right direction so that he or she can get their car repaired as soon as possible, and meet the smog requirement.
Fourth, make it easy for consumers to understand the SMOG check program. For example, many consumers are not aware that if their car fails, they can get an extension on doing the necessary repairs. By bringing their car in and getting that first test, they can avoid the fines that occur if they do not have their car smogged within the time limits. Explain to them that they can get an extension, if needed, and avoid those hefty fines that are levied by the state of California.
Finally, make your office environment clean and welcoming. Today’s busy, affluent consumers, expect to be treated well, and this means a clean waiting environment, and friendly staff. Many auto repair shops have employees that can be gruff to consumers, so try to educate your staff to be friendly. In addition, most stations have Internet access, so invest a very little money so that you can have free Wi-Fi for consumers. All of this is to make the process as easy and fun as possible for that busy consumer.
In sum, don’t think about your smog check as just a technical service that you offer. Think about transitioning your station from just another gruff, busy, and possibly dirty automotive repair shop to a more modern friendly, and Internet access providing system station.
Stand Out as the Clean, Fun, and Friendly SMOG Check Station
With all the hassles with the Bureau of Automotive Repair, don’t forget that it’s not the government agency that is really your big problem. It is standing out in the consumer’s mind as the most convenient place to get there automobile smog.