As we discussed in our post on four issues in the auto repair industry, and how you can address them, marketing your auto repair business is a completely different from simply working within one. But auto repair marketing, like any other, can be simplified and great results achieved.
Tips for auto repair marketing
A few tips for marketing your auto repair business are:
Get great reviews: Referrals are a huge source of new business for auto repair shops. If you do great work for Ben, he will probably bring in his wife’s car. When you solve her problem, she may mention it to her co-worker. And on it goes. One of the ways you can maximize this strategy is to ask satisfied customers for reviews – particularly online reviews. Google reviews are a huge opportunity as it means your business is better discovered online, and it can put you at the top of the list when people google the phrase “auto repair shops Bluefield West Virginia” or something like this.
Use social media: Many businesses are unsure of whether to put great effort into social media, but it’s still a communication engine that is very powerful for B2C (Business to Consumer) work. You don’t have to be on every single type of social media engine, but start with the big ones – Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus – and see how it goes. Facebook is particularly useful for B2C marketing, and Twitter can be a powerful way for instant customer service. Make sure you’ve identified at least one person within the business who is responsible for social media updates, but don’t let that keep the rest of the team (and yourself) from being part of the process as well. Once you start getting great results from one particular engine, keep using that one.
Keep in touch with customers: For auto repair marketing, this is more powerful than you probably ever realize. So many businesses do not stay in touch with their customers – either by email or direct mail or telephone – and lose business as a result. As an auto repair shop, you have a massive amount of information at your fingertips. Send an “It’s time for your oil change” card every 3,000-6,000 miles. Remind customers that it’s been two years since they replaced their tires. Even ask for referrals – if a customer mentions that you did a great job, write a day or so later and ask if they could mention you to anyone else who might have that particular automotive problem.
Connect with local businesses: The smaller the town you’re in, the greater your chances of connecting with local businesses who can refer business to you – and vice versa. If you’re a specialty auto repair shop, connect with the more “one size fits all” places. (And vice versa.) When you need a website, get a local company or graphic designer to help you out. (But be careful not simply to hire them because they’re your brother’s friend’s cousin. This kind of reasoning can lead to great frustration.) Ask around at the local community or technical college, or the university, for students who can assist with marketing or admin or answering phones. Print up some simple flyers and post them on community boards, in local shops, and at schools or colleges. (Make sure you ask for permission first.)
Measure results and make changes: One of the hardest things to do is determine which of your auto repair marketing efforts are having the greatest results. But you can keep a short list of the marketing efforts you’ve made, and whether you noticed any response or return. Just because you can’t make a direct connection doesn’t mean you give up after a month (websites, social media, and other online marketing can take 6-12 months to kick in), but keep adapting as you go.
A final word
And above all, do great work and keep your customers happy. This will ensure that your marketing efforts have the greatest results.