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Loyalty programs are nothing new. Airlines and hotels have been offering them for decades. Thanks to the smartphone, however, customer-rewards programs no longer are the exclusive domain of large national retailers.
In a Counterman webinar earlier this year, Autologue Computer Systems CEO Jim Franco and TexTalk LLC CEO Brad Duncan made the case for implementing a rewards program, and explained how independent parts stores can get in on the action with relative ease.
As for why parts stores should consider launching a rewards program, here are some of the potential benefits:
Encouraging Future Purchasing
According to Duncan, the overarching goal of a rewards program “is to give your customers one more reason to buy from you.” OK, they already have plenty of reasons to buy from you. But, it never hurts to add another incentive for additional purchases.
It’s much harder to acquire new customers than it is to retain your existing customers, which means neglecting your current customers can be a costly mistake. An active rewards program that focuses on customer retention can go a long way toward keeping those relationships fresh.
“If you have an effective rewards program, revenues should increase because of customers buying more – and more often,” Duncan asserted. A good program should help to keep your business front and center in your customers’ minds.
With more and more retailers implementing some type of customer-loyalty program, chances are your competitors have one. That’s certainly the case if your local competitors include one (or more) of the national auto parts retailers.
From cashback credit-card rewards to that free guac you earned for eating large quantities of Chipotle, consumers have come to expect their favorite retailers to give them a little something extra for their continued loyalty. A rewards program is a great way to show your customers that you value their business.
Reach Out and Text Someone
As alluded to earlier, the smartphone has leveled the playing field for smaller retailers that want to offer the same kind of customer-rewards experience that the national retailers do. That’s because the smartphone is more than just a phone with a built-in camera. It’s a digital wallet that – increasingly – is populated with apps for our favorite brands.
During the webinar, Franco and Duncan explained that the smartphone is the focal point of Autologue’s eRewards customer-loyalty software. There’s no email or snail mail involved, and no plastic cards to print out for customers who sign up. By design, all interactions with the customer occur via phone. Franco and Duncan pointed to statistics showing that text messages enjoy a 98% read rate, which means your messaging has a great chance of reaching your customers when you contact them via phone.
“We decided early on that we wanted to communicate directly using the most effective and powerful marketing conduit there is,” Duncan said.
Parts stores can use Autologue’s eRewards to develop a loyalty program for retail or wholesale customers. The main difference is in how the rewards are defined. In an eRewards program for retail customers, rewards are dollar credits toward future purchases, and the “exchange rate” is set by the store. For example, a store might want to offer $5 in rewards for every $100 in purchases made by a retail customer enrolled in the program.
A wholesale eRewards program is structured more like what you’d expect in a frequent-flyer program. In a wholesale program, rewards accumulate as points rather than dollars, based on total purchases or on incremental increases in purchases. The store defines the “points multiplier” – meaning the customer accrues “X” number of points for every dollar they spend. Points are redeemed for reward prizes that are determined by the store.
With eRewards, parts sellers can group retail rewards members into one of three buckets – active, semi-active or inactive customers – and tailor their messaging based on the customer’s status. For example, an active customer would receive a rewards statement, which details their current rewards-program earnings, encourages online reviews and showcases current specials and promotions. A semi-active customer would receive a reminder statement, which shows rewards-dollars availability and encourages return visits. An inactive customer would receive a reactivation statement, which focuses on current specials and promotions to help re-energize the customer relationship.
Duncan described the concept as “loyalty-loop technology.”
“This is what eRewards is all about: managing the customer-visit pie chart, if you will,” he explained. “It’s automated customer retention.”
You can learn a lot more about Autologue’s eRewards software by listening to the on-demand webinar, which you’ll find archived at www.counterman.com/webinars/. Or you can visit www.autologue.com.
The post Building A Rewards Program For Your Auto Parts Store appeared first on Counterman Magazine.
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When selecting parts for a car repair, it pays to know the differences between original and aftermarket parts. Whenever possible, get estimates for both.
Choosing between original and aftermarket car parts — and even used parts of either type — is all about squaring your priorities with your budget.
You’ll have different options depending on the part and the shop. And the best choice will depend on whether you’re trying to keep repairs cheap, restore your car’s appearance after a wreck or soup up your ride.
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Before we get into that, here are the key differences:
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts match those that came with your car, and are of the same quality as its original parts. They’re also the most expensive. Aftermarket parts are cheaper, and made by other manufacturers — often several, giving you more options. Used parts may have a bit of wear and tear, but should be inspected or rebuilt to ensure they’ll work. These are the cheapest option. Choosing between aftermarket and OEM parts
Your decision will depend on the type of repair and the quality and price of the parts. Always look for parts that come with a warranty, even if they’re OEM, so you’ll be protected in case they fail.
Auto body repairs
Some aftermarket parts may be OK for auto body repair, but others won’t be as good, says Michael Calkins, manager of technical services at AAA. “There’s a lot of variation in quality.” For example, he says, aftermarket parts often don’t have the same level of rustproofing as original parts, fit and finish don’t match, or panels don’t align properly.
If OEM parts are used in auto body repair, the car should look and work exactly as it did before the damage, because everything will match up. OEM parts are also crash-tested, unlike many aftermarket parts.
Aftermarket parts come at varying price points and levels of quality, but because they are cheaper, insurance companies often prefer them. If you want OEM parts but are dealing with an insurer that wants the shop to use aftermarket parts, ask to pay the difference.
“There’s also the option of used parts, depending on the age of the vehicle,” Calkins says. “It may be cheaper than an aftermarket part but still have all of the original quality.”
A used part, whether it’s OEM or aftermarket, can really save money on repairs under the hood, so long as it’s inspected first and warrantied. And some aftermarket companies reverse-engineer their products to be even better than OEM versions.
For example, many car buffs will tell you that you can get heavy-duty shocks and struts or brake pads that are made of stronger materials. Scan some reviews online, or talk with your mechanic if you’re not sure whether an aftermarket part could be an upgrade.
Adding some extras
If you’d like to modify your ride by adding something like a backup camera or back-seat TV screen, you’ll probably be looking for aftermarket parts. Certain aftermarket upgrades could increase your car’s resale value. This is especially true for improvements like a better sound system or alloy wheels, rather than mechanical repairs.
Who provides OEM or aftermarket parts?
The options you’ll have for parts depends on the nature of the repairs and what type of shop you take your car to:
Dealership repair shops will offer only OEM parts — they have no reason to offer a cheaper product from a competitor Independent mechanics may be able to offer you a choice between OEM and aftermarket parts Independent garages that specialize in your type of vehicle will likely have both, but with quicker access to OEM parts, including used OEM parts, which can really save you Auto body shops can offer both, but if your collision repair is part of an insurance claim, the insurer will likely prefer aftermarket parts to save money Depending on the job, the cost of OEM versus aftermarket parts varies. Whenever you’re given the choice, ask to see estimates for both so you can weigh your options.