OK, so your business may not need to be 24/7 in the sense that you’re accessible around the clock, but your customers will want to contact you out-of-hours.

Most motorists probably remember their car needs a service as they relax for the evening in front of the TV and then promptly forget the following morning when they are back in the throes of rushing out the door. It means businesses which are able to engage with consumers round the clock are more likely to gain their custom.

It’s the customer who calls the shots in today’s retail environment. The modern customer is demanding and they have an annoying habit of continually moving the goalposts. They like to browse online and sometimes they buy over the internet, although they may decide to complete the purchase in store. However, there’s one thing for certain, they expect the service to be seamless off and online. If you think as the one-man band or small garage operation this doesn’t apply to you: think again. At the very least providing a way to communicate and make a booking out-of-hours could well see your business chosen over the competition.

How can garage owners provide the high level service the consumer expects as a result of their other retail experiences?

In fact, the local garage slots exceptionally well into the psyche of today’s sophisticated consumer. They want to be able to make their bookings out of hours when work, deadlines and collecting the children are not taking up their thinking and doing time, but they also want to ‘shop’ local. Interestingly, the digital revolution may have made the world a smaller place, but it has also created a consumer who wants to stay connected with their immediate community. But convenience and accessibility is the key, enabling these people to engage with your business when they want to and not when it suits you will see them placing their business with you.

But you work hard enough, right? Now you need to be available 24/7, when will you have time to eat and sleep, let alone, see your family?

Being able to communicate with your customers after hours doesn’t automatically make you are a slave to your garage, it simply means you have the opportunity to attract additional business. All you need is a laptop, iPad or handheld device and you are probably sat in front of the TV in the evening whilst online anyway.

Engaging with your customers in the evening can be as simple as responding to requests on social media or replying to emails. Having your workshop diary to hand means you can make bookings in the evening and if your operations are managed online, even better. Cloud systems provide small businesses with the means to implement sophisticated, streamlined and joined up processes more often associated with larger organisations and they are accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Should you receive an email in the evening requesting a service booking, because the system is cloud based, you can check your workshop diary, calculate the length of time to undertake, check parts ordering and generate a quote in just a few minutes which can be sent there and then to your customer. If your customer responds to confirm the booking, you simply upload the information and the booking is complete. If the customer is new to the business, you have also just added their details to your database.

When you think about, it isn’t too much of a step from the service you are already providing. It is not uncommon for garage owners to take calls in the evening, especially from loyal customers – it’s all part of the service, allowing all customers and prospective customers to engage and make bookings out-of-hours means you attract additional custom without it impinging too much on your own time. But, you need the systems in place to allow you to undertake readily and with little effort, you want to avoid or do away with ‘notes to self’ on scrap pieces of paper which you leave at home, forget to input when you get to work or worse still, lose completely. Even if your memory is flawless, when you take the call, you are unlikely to have your workshop schedule imprinted in your mind so you will have to contact your customer the next working day anyway. Yet the customer contacted you out-of-hours for a reason: they’re too busy and distracted to deal with these things during the day.

A cloud-based management system enables the garage owner to run their business from home in the evenings, on holiday or if they are out on the road. The job can be booked into the system even from a mobile phone allowing garage owners to deliver a seamless service out of hours. Suddenly, you have become a 24/7, 21st century operation and the real beauty is the cost; cloud-based systems provide an affordable means to run sophisticated operational applications.

CarVue is a revolutionary cloud-based application for independent workshops, garages and mechanics. It’s a simple and smart app that removes the need for expensive servers, software upgrades or training to run an automotive business. With a simple web browser a workshop can be managed from any device, any time and from anywhere. Find out much more and sign up for an obligation free trial today at www.carvue.com