Plowing profits back into a business can be a good growth tactic. But that can be a tough call. You never know if the timing is right, and the temptation to skim off the cream, pocket it and put off long-term investments to another day is always there.
But a Nebraska ISC has found a way around that dilemma. Instead of profits, Auto Tech Specialists (ATS), in Kearney, Neb., used rebates on routine expenditures to fund an improvement to the business it hopes will translate to more revenue down the road.
Redeeming points accumulated for buying Genuine GM Parts under the Genuine GM Rewards program, the shop invested in improving the customer experience, sprucing up a waiting area with a new coffee maker and a Web-connected “smart” TV.
The new amenities are designed to add another layer of comfort to a lounge the company has improved, funds permitting, since moving into the building in 2010. They were seen as core elements of an effort to make a customer’s wait as pleasant as possible, an intangible but important part of the customer experience that could yield dividends in the form of satisfied, return customers.
“ I think everyone really likes being able to come into a comfortable and inviting waiting area that doesn’t have the look and feel of a shop-type environment,” said Scott Placzek, co-owner.
Being able to provide that, and hopefully reap some long-term benefit, won out over scores of other possible uses for the reward points. GPS devices were among the more personal rewards the owners considered for themselves. But they ultimately passed them over in favor of investing the rebates back into the business. “The television we had in the waiting area was too small and the coffee pot was getting old,” he says. “They needed to be replaced, and the Rewards made it possible to do it without anything out-of-pocket.”
Reward points had been building in the company’s account over the last couple of years. For all of 2013, ATS collected 765 points; through September 2014, the total was 792 and growing. The company decided to pull the trigger on the TV and the coffee maker when enough points were there to fund the redemption, leaving a small surplus to build on for the future.
And ATS already has the next redemption pretty well picked out. It follows the same script of putting the needs of the business first. Although there’s plenty of alluring merchandise available, Placzek and his fellow owners have agreed to bite the bullet and be practical. Next time around, it’s going to be five shop-vacs, an expenditure that could also produce an improved customer experience. “Every vehicle that comes in needs to be cleaned up before it goes back to the customer,” says Placzek. “The ones we have were used hard, and it’s time to replace them.”
While the lounge upgrades and the vacuums are intended to produce happier, more satisfied customers, ATS covers that base routinely. For every Genuine GM Parts installation, even those not eligible for Genuine GM Rewards points, ATS improves the odds that the customer will be back — not with a re-work, but with new business. Placzek knows that, and regularly uses Genuine GM Parts, especially in key part areas, as his Genuine GM Rewards balance suggests. Those points, he says, just amount to another reason to order parts that will help ensure a satisfied customer.
Moreover, the Genuine GM Rewards program is user friendly, he adds. Points are automatically credited to his account with each qualifying purchase, and the process of redeeming points — evaluating the available goods and services, and ordering and receiving them — is easy.
“It’s a good incentive to buy Genuine GM Parts,” he says. “The parts are priced competitively and it looks like about 80 percent of them qualify for the rebate program.”
Category: The Business of Repairs