About Schoonover BodyWorks
A family owned and operated business for nearly 85 years, Schoonover Bodyworks is an auto body and glass repair shop in Shoreview Minnesota. Mike Schoonover, president and CEO of Schoonover Bodyworks, is the third generation owner of the business. “We’re a one stop shop for customers’ automotive needs. We handle painting, bodywork, tires, brakes, and glass,” said Mike.
In June of 2019, Schoonover implemented Podium to streamline the review process with customers. In three years, they’ve increased their average monthly reviews by 600% and improved their average star rating from 4.4 to 4.9. Podium Webchat has also helped the team capture more inbound leads from their website. Today, 83% of all inbound leads come from customers texting through Webchat.
Before Podium, Schoonover Bodyworks was struggling to get organic leads online. Their online presence was low and they were dependent on insurance companies for most of their leads. Plus, their customer communication strategy relied on outdated methods that weren’t scalable. Schoonover described their challenges this way:
- Their online presence wasn’t built to capture new leads
“In 2018 we decided to pull our business off the insurance programs,” said Mike. While these insurance programs sent leads directly to Schoonover, they created a poor experience for customers. “Because the insurance company said a business was a preferred shop, they could control the costs. We realized that the insurance companies weren’t working on behalf of their customers,” said Mike. Making the switch away from insurance leads was a big shift. Schoonover needed an online presence with high Google reviews to help direct new prospects to their website and to their business.
- Their customer review program wasn’t working
Collecting reviews before Podium was a difficult process. The 60 reviews they did have were positive, but the process to get those reviews was challenging. “We really didn’t have a good way to ask customers to go on Google and leave us a review,” said Mike. They relied on a sign on the counter and employees asking customers directly. “Asking customers verbally was awkward. It didn’t make any sense.”
- Their customer communication strategy was outdated and difficult to scale
Before Podium, the Schoonover team relied on outdated methods of communication to connect with customers. Mike explained, “we weren’t really using anything other than in-person meetings, phone calls, and emails.” These methods didn’t follow any type of formal or standardized method for customer communication and they weren’t scalable. “We needed a solution that would make it easier for customers to do business with us.”
- Inefficient local marketing tactics wasted more than $100,000
After spending more than $100,000 on Yellow Pages advertising, the Schoonover team realized they wasted more than their marketing budget–they had wasted valuable time communicating with poor Yellow Pages leads. With few leads and even more time spent on the phone with the leads that did trickle in, the team needed a better way to attract new customers, efficiently answer their questions, and convert them to paying customers.
The Podium Solution
With Podium, the Schoonover team created a better process for collecting reviews, communicating with customers, and building an online presence to organically attract new leads. Schoonover uses Podium to deliver:
- A scalable, personalized customer review request program
With Podium, Schoonover sends a review request to every customer after every interaction. “We send a request to every customer so we get real ratings on our Google reviews,” said Mike. “And new customers see those reviews. They can see we’re a family owned business that’s been around for 85 years with a 4.9 rating. Other shops have a 4.7 rating, so they decide to bring their car to us.” The Podium competitor dashboard gives the team a real-time comparison between their shop and local competitors. “I can show my employees that we’re first in total Google reviews amongst our competitors. I look at it several times a week.”
- A faster way to communicate with customers
Podium is helping the Schoonover team communicate better and faster with customers. “Podium has allowed us to be more efficient with customers, answering questions, and scheduling appointments [via text],” said Mike. “If we didn’t have Podium, we would be hard to do business with. People expect you to get information to them quickly. Podium helps us fill that void that we didn’t have before.”
- A better way to collect leads online with Webchat
With more reviews on Google, more prospects are finding their way to the Schoonover website. And with Webchat, customers have a convenient way to get in touch with the Schoonover team via text, and the team can quickly respond to customer questions. Before Podium, the business voicemail was full every Monday morning. Now, the team communicates primarily via text, and can field requests beyond traditional business hours. “Podium has given us another way—as a single location—to be a bigger player, to be like the big guys that have that capability of communicating with their customers.”
Results & ROI
Since 2019, Schoonover Bodyworks has used Podium to see results like:
→ An increase in organic leads—no longer dependent on insurance company leads
Podium has helped Schoonover Bodyworks step away from insurance company leads and increase their organic leads with a larger online presence. “We’re not relying on insurance companies sending us work anymore,” said Mike. “And now we don’t have to work very hard at getting leads because we have Podium.” From Webchat alone, Schoonver has collected more than 1,100 leads and they average 40 – 50 new leads per month.
→ 600% increase in reviews per month
By modernizing their review request process with Podium, Schoonover has seen a 600% increase in reviews per month. Before Podium, the business boasted just 60 reviews. With Podium, Schoonover has grown to more than 580 reviews.
→ 4.4 → 4.9 average star rating
With more reviews from customers, Schoonover’s average star rating has increased by ~11%. Compared to their top competitors, Schoonover has the highest average star rating—4.9 vs. 4.7. “In the automotive world, you want to pick the best. Having the Google rating where it is, that shows that we work really hard. Podium helped us get there,” said Mike.
→ 5 – 6 hours saved per day on phone calls
“We’re more productive now. What used to take a five-minute phone call is just a quick text back and forth with the customer. Plus, we’re sharing more information than we could in that five-minute phone call,” said Mike. The front office team is saving 5 – 6 hours on phone calls every day. And, because customer communication is now digital, the front office team can manage multiple customer conversations at the same time.
→ ~$100,000 marketing budget saved annually
Since implementing Podium, Schoonover’s total marketing spend has dramatically decreased with at least $100,000 saved annually. “We don’t spend money on any other online advertising. Podium is well worth the money. I don’t even look at it as an expense,” said Mike.
“It doesn’t matter what size your business is. Podium is a valuable tool for so many different reasons—keeping track of how you are doing, understanding how happy your customers are, getting new customers, and communicating with customers before and after a sale. It’s all real time.”
“Podium checks off so many boxes that a business needs, especially a small business where you have an active owner and limited—you’re able to do a lot more with Podium.”
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