How to get more customers from referrals?

You probably won’t be surprised if we told you that many, if not most, of the auto detailing customers come from recommendations. Nothing encourages people to visit a detailing studio as much as a recommendation from a trusted person, satisfied with the service.

From a business perspective, referrals are also the best and cheapest source of customers. You don’t have to spend time or money on marketing, and referral customers tend to trust you more.

Someone who recommended your garage has already done a large part of the marketing and sales work for you.

However, recommendations do not come out of thin air. So today we’ll consider what influences the number of satisfied customers and what should be done to make them recommend you.


Customer service is the key 

First, let’s look at where new clients come from in general. Their three primary sources are:

  • Marketing (online and offline)
  • Sales (answering phone calls and messages from interested people)
  • Customer service (your service and everything related to it)

Referrals come from the last source, the customer service. Sometimes you can meet the term “customer success”, which precisely describes what customer service is all about. It’s about your customer’s happiness and satisfaction with your services. 

The auto detailing industry is prone to customer satisfaction (and dissatisfaction too). Premium customers want to feel special. It’s not just about a clean car but also about the overall service.

Your job is to make them feel like this. From the first contact with you and your studio until leaving the garage in a clean car. And even longer.


Stages of customer service in auto detailing

Now that we know how vital customer service is in the car cosmetics industry, let’s investigate its individual stages.


First contact

The first impression is made only once, so you should make sure that the customer feels that he’s dealing with a professional and trustworthy company from the very beginning. Where does the first contact take place?


  • Fast and easy contact is the basis of customer service. Often, whether you pick up the phone right away or not will determine whether someone comes at all. So don’t let people bounce off busy or silent calls, and even if you can’t answer right away, call back as soon as possible.
  • “Hello, Studio Detailing X here, how can I help you?” will sound much better to the customer’s ears than a plain “Hello?”. Prepare a professional yet kind greeting and use it every time someone calls you.
  • Examine the client’s needs carefully and let them elaborate. Don’t assume that the customer doesn’t know anything and you know everything because this is the first step in making him feel mistreated. If you don’t have time to talk, better call back when you can entirely focus on what the customer has to say.


Personal visit

  • People leave their cars to a detailing studio to return them clean and fragrant. This standard should also apply to you, your employees, and the studio itself. Take care of cleanliness standards, proper team clothing, and regular cleaning in the garage.
  • Rain, snow, or cold outside, and your client has nowhere to sit while waiting for the car? Provide him with a nice waiting room, a comfortable armchair or sofa, light refreshments, mineral water, tea, or coffee.


Website / social media

  • Before visiting the studio or making a call, many of your customers will first visit a website or profile on Facebook, Instagram. Make sure it doesn’t end up on a dead, unreadable page. Instead, publish content regularly, e.g., photos from your previous projects or news about services.
  • Be proactive in keeping profiles on social networks and – like your phone – respond to emails, forms, and direct messages as quickly as possible.

Car detailing

All the treatments described above and below are a great addition to your service but will never replace it. The most pleasantly served client will never recommend your studio if the result is unsatisfactory. So how can you take care of the “wow effect”?


Client’s needs

  • We wrote about it in the context of a telephone conversation, but we feel like highlighting it again. Don’t treat the customer in advance as ignorant in the context of car care (“I know everything, you do nothing”). If the client doesn’t know much about car detailing, don’t let him feel it. Listen, advise, encourage. Always in that order. 🙂
  • Before starting work on the car, carefully evaluate the vehicle’s condition. Prepare technical documentation and photos showing all the present imperfections and information on the thickness of the paint.


Detailing services

  • Quality will defend itself, so high-class service will be the best argument for customers recommending you. Start with a professional price list tailored to your recipients. Take care of competent staff and their regular training, not only at the beginning of the studio’s existence.
  • Offering a free cleaning 7 days after applying the coating is an excellent customer service practice. You will check whether there is a possibility of rectifying any shortcomings. On the one hand, the client will see it as a service guarantee. On the other hand, you will get him used to always washing the car with you.


Car pickup

  • Especially in the case of complex work, it’s good to describe the job done with the actual presentation of what has been done. If you show the description on the printout, make sure there is a studio logo somewhere.
  • The most important part of the service is the delivery of the car, i.e., the moment when the customer picks up his child from the garage. If possible, take care of a special place for such reception and good lighting so that the effect of the work performed is as visible as possible.
  • You can add small gifts to more expensive services, such as chocolates or product samples.
  • Do you see that the customer is satisfied? Ask for 5 stars and a recommendation the moment the car is delivered. Have business cards with you and make it easy for the client to get the job done. This is the easiest and most effective way to get referrals. You have a satisfied customer, ask him to tell others about the service. 🙂


Post-sales activities

  • When the customer leaves the garage, it’s not the end of the service. Premium customers will appreciate that you remember them for a week, month, or six months after leaving the studio.
  • The essential task in after-sales care is to remind customers to refresh the coating or sign up for a car wash before Christmas. Calendar and CRM will help you in this task.
  • Share knowledge and the news. Your website and social networks are great platforms to educate the client, e.g., through blog entries, videos, or Instagram stories.


Referral program

  • Thousands of service companies can’t be wrong. Referral programs and loyalty cards or apps connect people with a given place, so it’s worth using this tool as well.
  • Free washing in exchange for bringing the client to the garage? Killing two birds with one stone! A simple referral program will be an additional motivator for customers to recommend you to their friends.
  • The loyalty card will also be an excellent reason for customers to return to you. For example, buy 6 washes, and you get the 7th for free. It is older than dirt but hella effective.


Serve your customers

Customer satisfaction, especially in the premium segment, applies not only to the product or service itself. Instead, it’s a series of small activities and steps that affect the overall reception of your garage.

While taken out of context and individually,  all the activities described above may seem irrelevant. However, if done correctly, they will turn your clients into advocates of your service and your service into something bigger than just auto detailing. 

Because as the legendary marketer Seth Godin once wrote:

“People don’t buy goods or services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”

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