Podium helped Pro Auto Care generate leads and conversions
Technology moves fast. That’s usually a good thing—but sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Al Oramas has had both experiences since starting Pro Auto Care in ‘92.
Al started out repairing Japanese-made cars. Ten years later, he expanded into a general repair shop because his customers had changed. They started buying more from Audi, Chevy, Jeep, and others. He realized he could either change with his customers or turn down valuable business. Luckily, what started as a problem turned out to be an opportunity.
Those were the days of print. The internet was still new and unfamiliar. Customers would find Pro Auto Care in their Yellow Pages ad or direct mail. That type of advertising worked well for the repair shop—until it didn’t. As Al told us, it all started to change about 15 years ago.
“You honestly were paying a king’s ransom. It could be upwards of $12,000 a month for a full-page ad.” Direct mail had changed, too. The cost of postage and printing was skyrocketing. Print advertising was getting more and more expensive, but it was still nearly impossible to track a return on your investment.
With the death of the phone book came the birth of email marketing. Al started using email to attract and retain customers, but it was “just okay.” Email worked well enough to communicate with people, but it was easy for them to ignore their email inbox if they were busy.
While the internet changed everything, the smartphone took the internet and placed it in every consumer’s pocket. “All of a sudden we went from flip phones to smartphones,” Al told us. “I’m in new cities, I’m using the apps. I’m using it for everything from navigation to finding restaurants.” The best businesses are able to identify when their customers are changing. Al knew that if he himself preferred using his smartphone, then so did his customers.
As a Yelp user himself, Al started putting effort into Yelp reviews for his repair shop. He had worked up to a total of 80 reviews when Yelp changed something in their policies. “We were left with 28 reviews out of the 80,” Al told us. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, we worked so hard to make things good’.”
Since that experience, Al has been searching for an easier way to delight customers and get them to leave reviews.
A couple of years ago, Al went to the ASA Trade Show in Colorado. He ended up in a breakout session led by two Podium employees. “I sat in that class and my eyes were wide open like a kid on Christmas day,” Al told us.
Like any good business owner, Al approaches new technology with a healthy amount of skepticism.“Honestly, when I first signed up for Podium, I was just hoping to get a few customers to cover the cost of the software,” he told us. “I was very surprised at how much communication started coming in through it. When I actually saw it working and bringing leads to me, that was proof in the pudding.”
But like we said, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
Al and his team had been using a CRM software from another vendor. That vendor was now promising a premium version with additional tools for text messaging, chat, and internal communications. Al saw this as an opportunity to reduce costs. “That’s when I left Podium,” he told us. In its place, Al upgraded to the premium version of his CRM software solution.
“After about a week of using it, I realized I had to cut my losses,” Al told us. “The chat activity virtually disappeared. The texting was clunky. The notifications were clunky.” His team wasn’t happy about the change, either. When Al tried to get support to fix these problems, he was left frustrated by the experience.
That’s when Al decided to return to Podium. “Honestly, by the next day we were back up and running. We immediately began seeing results again.”
With Podium, Al and his team have received more than 500 new reviews and have increased their average star rating from 4.3 to 4.7. They’ve also captured 700 new Webchat leads with an 18% conversion rate.