By John Daulton
Uber and Lyft continue to grow in popularity. The price is right, and more and more people use these ride-sharing services rather than taking their own car—or even owning one. We’re not to the point where that’s a huge problem for you yet, but if the writing isn’t on the wall, there is definitely a crowd standing near the wall opening up a case of spray paint.
In the meantime, Uber and Lyft are the in-between. A profitable strategy is to embrace this trend. Pay attention to the stickers in your customer’s windows. Your strategy starts there.
When you see one of these stickers in your shop, say something. Acknowledge that you recognize what your customer does and that their car means a lot to them as a source of income. Take the time to show them you are paying attention, and that you are not a crusty old guy who doesn’t recognize what “the kids these days” are doing.
If you do happen to have a bit of crust on you, I’ll catch you up: Uber and Lyft are “ride sharing services” that operate through cell phone apps. Basically, they are taxi-service type companies that managed to get around all the taxi laws through an online app. People who want a ride can log into the app on their cell phones and order up a ride as easy as you might order a pizza for your shop.
The drivers who sign on to drive for these ride-sharing services can see that someone nearby has summoned a car. They can see on a map where that person is. They acknowledge the summons, send a “driver profile” to the person wanting a lift, and head on over. Once they get there, the rider can (for safety reasons) verify from the profile that the driver is the person shown in the app. Payments are processed through the app, so the rider doesn’t have to pay with money and the driver doesn’t have to carry money (again for safety reasons). Frankly, it’s a beautiful idea.
So that’s how it works in super basic terms. That’s all you really need to know. The rest is just you recognizing that there are a whole bunch of one-car fleet accounts waiting for someone to recognize what they do and treat them like VIP customers.
THEY ARE VIP! THEY DRIVE THE HECK OUT OF THEIR CARS AND NEED THEM TO MAKE MONEY.
If you want to give them a price break, go for it. If not, just have something that makes them feel special. Special early appointments, or Saturdays (a lot of you guys do “Saturdays by appointment only” anyway … so tell them that’s a thing at your shop). Make an “every-fifth-oil-change-is-free” program for them or something.
If you happen to be a MechanicNet customer, tell them about the online service history. Explain how they can go to your website and pull an invoice whenever they need to. This is especially useful come tax time. Tell them that! (If you don’t have history set up on your site, call us and we’ll make sure you have the widget to add to your page.)
Make flyers about your program. Tack up a sign on your wall or counter explaining you have a special program for Uber and Lyft drivers. Tell them you can do the safety inspections! (These are big, and are required for people to start on the programs. If you do a few, the ride-sharing companies might actually start recommending you!) Mention your program to anyone when you see they have the stickers in their car. Give them the flyer. Give them a few copies, since Uber and Lyft drivers tend to have friends who do it too.
If you have a regular customer getting picked up by an Uber or Lyft driver, consider handing that customer your Uber and Lyft flyer. Ask them to give to the driver who picks them up. If you feel weird about that, or the customer looks at you funny, say, “Hey, I’ll give you five bucks off your service today just for handing over this piece of paper.” It’s a pretty small thing to ask.
Do one of those. Do them all. Either way, you just opened up a whole new way of getting and keeping customers, an Uber and Lyft driver network program. And the best part of this is that this is all free outside running some flyers through your printer.
And, just in case you missed it the first time: these people drive all the time … for money!!!