SCHEMA MARKUP – Tells Google what your Content is about and who you are. Ranked in the top 10 factors of Google’s ranking algorithm (technical SEO)
SEO TIP #1 : Schema Markup. Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. Without getting too deep into the what and why in this post, let’s dive right into the ‘how’.
From start to finish this shouldn’t take you more than 10-12 minutes to implement, depending on skill level.
Visit this link to a free tool you can use to get your schema markup code. https://technicalseo.com/tools/schema-markup-generator/
From there you want to select Local Business from the main category, then Automotive Business, then either Auto Body Shop or Auto Repair Shop depending on your specific business model.
Go ahead and fill out your address, business hours and social profiles for your business. After the address be sure to click the “Geo Coordinates” button on the right side, it will fill your lat/long automatically after entering your address.
Now it’s time to add it to your site. Click the blue button on the top right in over to copy the code to your clip board and head over to your WordPress dashboard. (Most of you are running your site’s off WordPress. If you have a different platform, feel free to PM me for specific instructions)
Some themes will come with a place to insert code into the header of your site. If you are not sure, simply click on Plugins > Add New from the left menu, and search ‘insert headers and footers’. Install & activate the plugin. Once activated, you will find the plugin under Settings > Insert Headers & Footers….click on that.
Last Step: In the first box labeled scripts in header, you may now paste (ctrl + v) your schema markup and click save.
Congratulations! You learned a little bit and successfully implemented an important SEO element on your site.
If you want to see a video walkthrough of these steps, go ahead and request access to our private FB group for auto shop owners.
Getting your vehicle serviced is a serious matter and choosing the right mechanic or auto repair shop for the job isn’t always as simple as taking your car into the dealership from which you purchased your vehicle. When a customer makes the decision to find a local auto repair or collision center, they WILL research your business online. Here’s why acquiring a lot of [positive] reviews is crucial to growing your car count.
1. Auto Repair Shop Reviews Help Bring in New Clients
72% of customers won’t take action until they read reviews.
15% of users don’t trust businesses without reviews.
Only 6% of consumers don’t trust customer reviews at all.
Google accounts for 57.5% of all reviews worldwide.
Local businesses have an average of 39 Google reviews.
If your mechanic shop’s reviews are up to par, it can most certainly drive new customers to your shop.
2. Reviews Help Gauge your Shop’s Quality
Successful Auto Repair Shops look at reputation management as a continuous improvement process. Customers often opt to view “newest” reviews to ensure a positive experience with their vehicle maintenance. Because of this, it is important that all of your staff are made aware of why it’s important to ensure each and every customer has a positive experience from the actual repairs to the level of customer service they receive during the repair process.
3. Mechanic Reviews Help Bring in Repeat Business & Referrals
While positive reviews can help bring in new auto repair customers, they can also help bring back returning ones as well. If they’ve had an excellent experience in the past, and if you’ve asked them to leave a review, these customers know that you care about them, as well as your work. After all, a good auto repair shop doesn’t ask people for reviews if they know they’ve done a poor job. Show your customers you take pride in your business and ask them to provide their honest feedback so you can better continue to refine your reputation on and offline.
4. Boosts Local SEO
Small auto shops don’t always think about marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). However, with individuals turning to online reviews to help form consumer decision-making, this will need to change. Asking your customers to leave an online auto shop review these days is equal to asking them to refer them to their friends and family when word-of-mouth marketing was the way to go.
With everyone using the internet and asking for “car repairs near me,” building your local SEO ranking online is crucial to your shop’s successl. The “near me” search term is what makes this more localized SEO instead of trying to rank across a wider search area. People in Dayton, Ohio, won’t necessarily be reading mechanic reviews in Auburn, CA. So, boosting your local SEO by having customers leave reviews is a great way to draw in more localized customers.
5. Auto Repair Reviews Keep You Ahead of Your Competition
Good, quality auto repair reviews will keep you ahead of your competition, almost every time. With towing companies and auto repair shops popping up all over, the competition can get fierce, especially in metropolitan areas. The better you take care of your clients and their vehicles, the more willing they will be to not only leave you a review online but also leave you a review that will set you apart from other auto repair shops. Remember, every review counts — whether it be on Google, Facebook or Yelp.
Reviews Matter — Let Us Help You Get Them
ShopHawk provides full service Web Design & Marketing for Tow Companies, Auto Repair Shops, Collision Centers and more. Part of what we do includes sending customer surveys and asking for reviews. Naturally, you will reach a few customers who have had a not-so-pleasant experience. Don’t worry! The way our platform works, only the customers who choose they would recommend your shop will be able to post a review online. If they choose they would NOT recommend you, they are only able to provide you feedback via email. This allows for your shop to get real feedback for the continuous improvement process we mentioned above, but not damage your online reputation.
One of the first questions shop owners want to know when they call our company is: How much does an auto repair shop website cost? Although this is a very difficult question to answer, I will try to do my best here to explain some general pricing guidelines.
The purchase of a website is much like the purchase of a vehicle or even a house. With so many options to choose from, price ranges can vary drastically. Just as a Toyota Camry can start around $20k with just a base model package, the cost can quickly increase to well over $30k once a buyer adds such items as power windows, CD player, all-leather interior, chrome finishes, built-in GPS, etc. Maybe you travel long distance and a hybrid vehicle is better suited to your needs. Worried about power and performance? Upgrade to a V6 for an extra few grand. You get the point, right?
Considering that the average American sells or trades in their vehicle within the first 5 years of purchase, why do so many buyers still concern themselves with these possible upgrades? The answer is because most people understand the importance of getting what they want the first time so there are no regrets down the road. This is known as buyer’s remorse, and it most definitely applies to your website as well. Because your website is going to be your business’ primary point of contact for your potential auto repair customer, it is important that you choose your needs carefully.
When a visitor lands on your auto repair website, you only have a few seconds to capture their attention and ensure they stay long enough to decide if your auto repair shop can service their current needs. Here is a list some of the most common elements added to a website, all which can affect the total cost, as well as how effective a platform it will be to attract visitors, and convert them into qualified leads.
- Responsive (Mobile Friendly)
- Modern Logo
- High Resolution Images
- Hours of Operation
- Clear Calls to Action (Phone Number / Contact Form)
- Social Media Integration
- SSL Certificate (Trust)
- Service Pages
- Map / Get Directions Link
- Appointment Scheduling
- Google Analytics
- Blog/Resource Center
- Good Hosting (Security + Fast Loading)
- Business Email Addresses
This list can go on and on depending on your auto repair shop or collision center’s immediate needs. Don’t be overwhelmed with the choices, either. Your web design agency should consult with you regarding what other successful local business sites utilize, what your shop currently has that is working or not working, and even what can be added down the line as you grow. The good thing about a properly built website is the fact that adding on new features should not be too costly or time consuming if designed properly from the beginning. Therefore, it’s so important to not rush your choice in web designer. I’ve seen plenty of shop owner’s rush into this decision just to save money upfront, or get a website up “just to have one.” This decision could cost you 10’s of thousands of dollars every year, and tarnish your brand’s integrity. Take it seriously.
How platform choice affects the cost
When a customer approaches us for either a new website or website redesign, platform choice is a key factor is final costs. While most auto repair shop owners are looking for a solution that won’t add more work to their plate, others may have a staff that will require access to the new website to update pricing, upload photos of vehicle repairs, change coupons out, etc. For this particular need, a Content Management System or CMS would be the way to go. At ShopPulse, we put the bulk of our customers on our proprietary platform, whereas the shop owner need not worry about changes themselves, or having to redesign their site 12 months from now, or pay for every little addition they think of. Essentially, we create constantly evolving websites, built by shop owners. If we are tasked by Classic Auto Collision to build a before and after gallery, we then approach you with what we did, how it affected the website, and ask if you wish to have the same feature on your business website. For the purpose of this article, however, let’s keep the topic on pricing.
How hosting affects website pricing
We’ll keep this one short, as you as the business owner shouldn’t concern yourself with servers or bandwidth or megabyte schmegabyte. All you need to know if in this day and age, your website needs to be fast and secure. Although you are the decision maker, it is the job of the web designer to educate you on different pricing levels and benefits. Don’t be alarmed, for a standard website such as your auto repair or body shop, we’re only talking a matter of a few bucks a month more here and there, but ultimately you need to know there IS a difference in hosting providers. We can certainly advise you on some providers we know to be perfect your small business website, and we also offer hosting solutions with each website we build. The most important thing is you choose the right solution for your needs. Think of it as the difference between factory and after-market parts for your customer.
The Bottom Line on Pricing
I wish I could have answered the pricing question more specifically, but hopefully you now understand how many factors are involved when a website designer prices your project. You should always be thinking long-term value over upfront savings. An efficient website should be bringing you qualified leads 24/7, and help your brand stand out from the competition. If you have any specific questions regarding pricing, or even if you are considering a few options from other agencies and want a third-party’s opinion, I’m always available to speak to business owners and give them a helping hand. Don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with me if you have any questions or concerns about how much an auto repair shop website should cost. I hope this helped… good luck!
Why Is It So Difficult to Find Good Mechanics?
There once was a famous garage owner who achieved fame as a NASCAR mechanic and engine builder. Self-educated, and a former military pilot, he was so brilliant that OEMs hired him as a technical consultant. But he eventually closed his garage, saying there were “no more good mechanics” to hire.
If you know the story, you recognize that as a popular quote attributed to Smokey Yunick. Despite Smokey’s complaint about good mechanics being hard to find, thousands of great techs have been repairing trucks and cars for decades since his lament. So, what was it that Smokey, despite his high level of intelligence, did not know?
Management is Succeeding Through Other People
As with many highly skilled people, Yunick did not understand how to get other people to ‘want to do what he wanted them to do.’ In a nutshell, that is the science of leadership, and a hallmark of good management skills. Let’s look at some common ways that shop owners create problems with techs.
Assigning Work Orders to the Wrong Skill Level
Wouldn’t it be nice if every tech you hired could do any repair on any vehicle you take in? Those days are long gone, given the complexity of today’s cars. Every tech you hire will have his or her strong areas as well as weak areas of talent. Mismatching work to skill level is a poor management practice that slows productivity. You breed frustration and lose good techs when you create work systems that mismatch human labor to tasks.
How can you tell which mechanical areas tech are good in, and identify the areas in which they have room to grow? Trial and error, with the resulting comebacks, is a lousy system for evaluating technician capabilities. The ASE eight basic CMAT exams area a better indicator of skill levels.
Have all your new hires take all eight ASE tests. Pay the test fees for them if you have to. Then use the results to match talent to repairs. Like a skilled military leader does, it is good practice to match your human resources to the tasks at hand. Make sense?
Having No Formal System Training in Place
If you can realize that your management decisions might be causing some of your technician problems, then you can take steps to eliminate the problem issues. Institute some weekly training. It could be as simple (and free) as finding articles and trade literature for your techs that shed light on their weak areas.
Many techs struggle with electrical and electronic systems. How about sending them to a local trade school at night for some classes in that?
An even greater benefit of training is that it makes your techs feel important and valuable. If you studied psychology in college, you know that all humans have an inner motivation to seek out recognition and appreciation. Recognize that as a valid need of theirs, then meet it, or lose techs. It’s your choice.
Not Providing the Information Needed to Repair Today’s Vehicles
Yes, repair information is expensive, but losing talented techs is much more harmful to your profits. If you investigate why comebacks and misdiagnoses are happening in your shop, you will find that the fault in many cases is a lack of relevant, complete and timely repair information.
People can tolerate only so many errors before they start looking for employment elsewhere. Then when you hire their replacement the problems start all over again for you. It’s better to attack the root of the problem directly. Smarter too.
Poor Soft Skills – Wasting Tech’s Talents
Face it, some of your customers would rather talk with the tech who will be working on their car than to discuss their mechanical issues with you. It’s normal. So, put aside your ego, and let your techs and your customers transact business more efficiently.
Identify those techs who are good at talking with clients, as well as those who are not. Allocate those soft skills when necessary, as situations present themselves. If you don’t do that, and insist that every piece of customer communication always flows through you, then you are creating a ‘bottleneck’ of communication. Miscommunications and trouble will follow. And you will eventually burn out from the stress.
Stop Punishing Your Techs
- The flat-rate pay system is antiquated. If you want techs to commit 40 hours a week, or more, to your business than you have to commit some money to them in return. Yet few techs have any guarantee of minimal earnings in place.
As a manager, you have the responsibility to become skilled in marketing and advertising. It takes time and effort, to learn how to attract a steady stream of new customers to your shop. Penalizing techs, making them go without earnings when business is poor, is making them suffer for your lack of marketing skills. Think about it.
- Every tech meets people socially. Do you have business cards printed for each tech, so he or she can proudly hand them out? It’s cheap advertising, and very profitable. Do you pay an enhanced commission when techs bring you new business like that? If you don’t pay your techs for that financial benefit, then they won’t give you the benefit of new business.
- Are your shop’s work hours inflexible? Some techs would rather come to work an hour or two early, and then leave early to pick their children up from school. Likewise, other techs might have a difficult time dragging themselves to work on time every day, but would be very happy to work past normal closing times, if they had the choice.
Rather than forcing everybody to work on your personal schedule, why not accommodate them as reasonably as possible? If you’ve been thinking about having extended shop hours to facilitate more customers’ busy schedules, and to compete better in the market, this might give you the opportunity to do that.
Don’t Be Like Smokey
Good management means bringing out the best in each of your techs. That’s why it is called human capital, because their talents and willingness to work for you have monetary value. Don’t waste that capital..
Check out our article on how to keep technicians happy, loyal & productive
Why is My Auto Repair Marketing Not Working?
You need to change your MINDSET about marketing. We understand the importance of ROI, and everything we do is to bring you that return, and lots of it. However, you need to keep in mind how people (yourself included) shop these days. If the only time your customer hears from you, receives an email/text, or direct mail, is when you’re trying to sell them something… you’ve already lost. And, no offense, but (pssstt….people think you’re annoying). People buy from people they trust. So, how do you build trust with your auto repair customer? Let’s jump right into it.
Consider the Buyer’s Journey. There are essentially 3 phases any customer will go through before they decide to part with their hard earned money.
The Buyer’s Journey
- Awareness – The buyer realizes they have a problem. This could be as simple as their check engine light came on or they have a dent in their rear bumper, or something more elusive, like a strange noise they haven’t heard before. Logically, their next step will quite likely be to go online, and search for information about their problem. Which brings us to the next stage in the buyer’s journey.
- Consideration – The buyer identifies a problem, and research their options to solve it. If it’s something as straight-forward as their check engine light is on, they may search for something like “auto repair shop near me.” Now in this case, of course it would be great for your shop to be found above your competition. Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or Paid Ads like Google AdWords could be helpful here. Now, just because your website shows up, doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily won that customer… but more on your website later. If your customer’s problem is more indirect, they may search for something like “weird rattling noise under car.” Now, here’s where you have a killer opportunity. Imagine you had a content marketing strategy where you took 10 of your most common services and blogged about them. Before I lose you, thinking you’re too busy for that… Just trust me here, it doesn’t take that long, or you can outsource it but it’s worth the investment either way. Now back to your customer…. He/She is aware of the problem, searches online and sees your article explaining the EXACT sound they hear. In your article, you come across as knowledgeable, friendly, and you describe what they should do next to solve their issue. You help ease their mind by identifying with them, and therefore you naturally build trust. This is important for the 3rd and final stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Decision- The customer has done their research and is now considering their options. In this case, which shop to spend their money with. Now, there are still plenty of factors that come into play here, but I hope you can see why building up trust through value-added content, and nurturing potential customers without just blindly delivering spammy coupons is so crucial. Content like that, written with some personality, and providing answers to specific questions always does well on Google. Think about it, Google’s entire business model is based on being able to deliver the most relevant answer to a search. Therefore, if you can take that little extra step of getting this content out there properly, you’re going to win online, and ultimately, in your business. To learn more about the buyer’s journey, take a look at this article from Hubspot, the leader in Inbound Marketing Strategy.
So let’s go back to your website as I mentioned above. We’ve attracted a potential customer through effective content marketing and we’ve started to build trust. How do we convert them into customers, and delight them enough to give us repeat business AND tell their community about us?
There are a lot of factors, but we will covert the 7 things every successful auto repair website must have.
7 Things Every Successful Auto Repair Website Must Have
- Fast Loading – According to Duda, 40% of website users will abandon the page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Ideally, it should be under 1.5 seconds. Check out Duda’s article on 10 Incredible Stats About Pagespeed if you’re curious.
- Mobile Friendly – I don’t think you need convincing on this but just in case… MAKE IT MOBILE FRIENDLY! Phew, glad I got that off my chest.
- Make a Promise – The first thing visitors want to know when they land on your auto repair website is what you’re going to do for them. Be sure that this information is easily available (above the fold) and that it’s compelling. You don’t just want to list your company’s mission; you want to explain why your company can fulfill that mission better than everyone else and how your customer will benefit from choosing you.
- Present Your Core Services – What exactly does your auto shop do (or not do) ? Obviously, your entire site is dedicated to showing off your core services and each one will probably have its own page. However, it’s important to identify this right away so your customer knows what you can do for them. Do you do body work? Specialize in German vehicles? Make it easy for your visitors to tell.
- Build a Sales Funnel – Your automotive website isn’t just for 3rd phase (bottom-funnel) prospects that are ready to pay for your services; it’s also for prospects in the awareness and consideration stages we talked about earlier. An easy way to start building a lead list is to offer free content to answer questions your prospects have while they’re still discovering that they may have a need for your product or service. Like we talked about earlier, offering useful content (non-salesy) is an excellent approach here. Perhaps offer a pdf download discussing “Top 10 Car Care Tips Before Going on a Roadtrip” or “Best SUV Tires for the Winter.” Again, make a list of the top services you offer, and the top FAQ’s you hear from your customers, and those will be the topics we want to publish.
- Establish Your Credibility & Gain Trust – Placing customer testimonials, reviews, and any accolades you have earned on your homepage is a great way to establish trust and social proof. Visitors want reassurance that you can actually follow through on your promises, and these elements provide that. We recommend showing off verified reviews from trusted 3rd party review sites along with awards and accreditations from reputable organizations in your industry and community, and investing in your website’s authority with up to date SSL certificates and website security.
- Drive Your Visitors to Take Action – Generally your call to action (or CTA) is perhaps the most critical element of your website. This is what prompts visitors to do something, such as download a free report, schedule a service, call you directly or request more information. Whatever your CTA is, it’s important to make sure it is both useful and relevant. Pro-Tip: Avoid the “Click Here’s” and other generic CTA language. If it’s to download a PDF, say that. If it’s driving directions to your shop, put that.
Like I said, there are tons of factors that come into play to win online, but if you follow these steps, I promise you will stand out from your competition in more ways than you think. At ShopHawk, we offer creative growth solutions for businesses in the Automotive industry. If you need help achieving lasting success with your digital marketing, please feel free to contact us today and book a free strategy call. We’d love to hear about your goals, and see if we’re a good fit to help you reach those. Because we only work with shops we know we can drive massive success to, our availability is limited. Please visit the link above or email us at email@example.com.
Now go publish some content!
Getting the Most out of Your Shop’s Employees
Larry has always paid his techs above average flat-rate commissions. In fact, he pays the highest commission rate of all the shops in his area. Larry prides himself on that and has always believed that money is the biggest motivator of people.
But despite the generous pay plan Larry’s techs eventually leave to work at other shops. Even the best ones leave. That hurts his business. Why does Larry have this recurring problem?
Learn the True Things that Motivate People
Decades of research into human behavior has shown that money is a poor motivator in the workplace. Money does not encourage loyalty from employees, as Larry has discovered, and it certainly does not motivate workers to strive for excellence.
Other things motivate people more than money does. Ignoring those things, or even trampling on them, can be disastrous, as Larry is experiencing. But nurturing those aspects of human behavior can yield great results for your shop. Let’s look at three basics of motivation and examine some easy ways you can apply them in your shop.
People are Born Motivated to Succeed – Acknowledge That Fact
Years ago a scientist named Maslow asserted that people are born with three innate motivations. We all are driven to survive physically, to belong, and to feel important, in that order. I am simplifying this a lot, but you can Google ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ for more detail. It’s very interesting.
If your techs, then, come to you already motivated to achieve success, to be productive, and to become an important part of your business, what makes them leave? Simple. The way you run your business is demotivating them. Let’s see what might be wrong.
Our Basic Motivation – The Drive to Survive
Starting from earliest time, humans have been born with an inner drive to eat, to have proper clothing, adequate shelter and all the basic necessities of life. That means that every tech you hire already wants to earn enough money to pay his rent or mortgage, and to buy food, clothing and medical care for himself and his family. Make sense?
If a tech is not earning enough money to provide all that for his loved ones, he is not lazy. If you hire intelligent, skilled techs but see them quit, the fault lies with your management methods. Do you hamper your techs’ productivity by making these three common mistakes?
- Do you assign only one car at a time to each tech, when they can easily take responsibility for two or three vehicles and plan their own work flow?
- Do your techs have a lot of dead time in each day, like when they have to wait for each new assignment or for you to sell the work? Keep them busy instead. Learn how to delegate your work flow better and then trust your techs to get it done.
- Do you avoid asking customers to buy upsells that your techs recommend because you promise every vehicle finished by 6:00 pm the day of drop off? Learn to manage your customers better.
Our 2nd Motivation – Our Need to Belong
What is the culture like in your shop? You might have heard this famous management saying: “People don’t leave jobs; they leave people.” Let’s look at two ways managers strongly influence their shop’s culture: how they handle mistakes and how they provide training (or ignore it).
Mistakes; everybody makes them. When mistakes happen, though, is the standard operating procedure to make the tech feel embarrassed or inferior? Are the techs punished or penalized beyond having to make up the work at no pay? If so, then you are teaching your techs that they are not important to you. Don’t expect loyalty.
Why not use mistakes as an opportunity to improve your business? Learn why the mistake happened. Investigate what the tech was basing his diagnosis on. What unclear instructions or complaints did you receive from the customer, and how poorly did you communicate that information to the tech? What time pressure was making him or her rush through the diagnosis, what faulty equipment and information system (or lack thereof) played a part in the mistake? Many factors contribute to mistakes, and often much of the ‘blame’ falls on the work environment, and not entirely on the tech.
Training. Techs get into this field because they enjoy learning about cars. Why not incorporate some training into your weekly schedule? Find out what areas each tech is weak in and then teach them a little on that topic every week. Find journal articles that explain those topics, and give that reading material to your techs. Develop a culture of constant learning in your shop. Help your techs advance their skills and then watch how their attitude towards you improves.
Our 3rd Motivation – The Need to Feel Important
Admit it, some customers would rather talk to a technician about their car than try to explain it to you. Give your techs a role in customer service. Put your ego aside.
Also on that note, some of the best pricing and marketing ideas will come from your techs. For example, you could encourage them to suggest bundled service packages, and then you could post those specials in your waiting area.
Here is one example of bundle pricing. Rather than list your services a la carte on a menu board, try grouping related items together for a small package discount. You could advertise a tire balance and rotation, a road test, a steering and suspension inspection and a wheel alignment as a ‘Vibration and steering service,’ all for one price. That makes it easier for customers and better for you and your techs.
Learn the basics of motivation and profit from them. Stop doing things that demotivate your techs. Instead, build on the things that feed their inner motivation. They will be happier and you will be richer. If you’d like to speak to one of our experienced shop owners to receive actionable tips on how to get the most out of your employees, contact our auto repair shop consultants today!
Attitude – it determines a lot of what we have in life. Take warranty work. Some shop owners hate it, but other businesses profit from it.
Two Different Ways to Handle Warranty Work
Suppose a shop owner, let’s call him ‘Old Fashioned Ollie,’ has a good customer who is complaining that the air conditioning compressor he had replaced failed at 30,000 miles. That’s long after Ollie’s 12 month/12,000-mile warranty expired. But this customer brings in all his family’s cars and always pays full price.
If Ollie wants to keep the customer happy, he must do the repair again, and make it free or at a big discount. Either way, Ollie loses money. The technician also wants to be paid for his labor. Nobody is happy.
A Better Way
Suppose another shop owner, let’s call her ‘Modern Mary,’ has a similar ‘A+’ customer complain that his A/C compressor failed at 30,000 miles, long after her standard 12 month/12,000-mile warranty expired. Same deal, right? No.
Mary’s shop has a separate bank account just for warranty work. She takes money from it to buy the new compressor and all it’s related parts and supplies, and to pay her technician for the job. Everybody is happy. But where did that money in Mary’s separate bank account come from, if not out of her shop’s normal profits?
This is Nothing New
Remember the last time you bought something new from your local home center, perhaps a new washer and drier set, a refrigerator, or even something as small as a power tool. After you agreed to buy it, the very first question they asked you was “Do you to buy want the extended warranty on this purchase?”
Prices of extended warranties vary, but are typically 10% to 15% of the purchase price. For that extra money, the store will typically double or triple the original manufacturer’s warranty.
What Does the Store Do with the Warranty Money?
When you buy an extended warranty, that is not the store’s money. They set it aside in a separate account. Then, as warranty claims arise over time, they use that money to cover the claims.
Where’s the Profit in That?
Because as time goes on, the store will see they are spending less on warranty claims then they are collecting. We’re talking long run, like three years and more. That excess money collected eventually becomes profit for the store. They can take it from the separate account and spend it as they see fit.
You Can Do the Same Thing
Let’s go back to the original A/C compressor job as our example. Suppose both Ollie and Mary’s shops charge $1,200 for the new compressor, accumulator, expansion tube, flush kit, oil, refrigerant, supplies and labor. But Mary offers every A/C compressor customer an extended warranty for an additional $150. That will extend the customer’s warranty to 36 months/ 36,000-miles, and raise the ticket amount to $1,350.
Over time Mary sees that 15 out of 20 new compressor customers buy the extended warranty, but in the long run, only 2 in 20 of those customers has a compressor failure under the extended warranty.
Suppose it costs Mary $600 to buy the parts, supplies and to pay the technician for a warranty repair. See the point? How much extra profit is Mary earning from selling extended warranties?
Hint: She collects $150 times 15, but only spends $600 times 2. Remember, we’re using round numbers just to illustrate a point. Your actual numbers will depend on your circumstances.
Watch the Legalities
Extended warranties have value, and give the buyers certain legal rights, as expected. But those rights vary by State. Each state has its own unique warranty laws you need to comply with, as well as national trade laws you must be aware of. For that reason, consult your business attorney and have him or her draft up an extended warranty agreement that complies with all applicable laws.
Likewise, consult with your CPA or accountant about the special booking procedures you will need to keep separate reserves for warranty claims.
Display Your Extended Warranty Proudly
We’ve all seen receipts that had verbiage like this stamped on them: “Warrantied for xx miles or xx months, whichever comes first. Does not include towing. All work to be done in our shop only. You might have other rights under applicable law.”
Some businesses have rubber stamps made with the wording their attorney provides, and stamp it on each relevant invoice. You’ve got to show off what you sell.
Keep the Customer Happy
The greatest benefit of offering extended warranties is that it keeps your customers protected from repeat major expenses. That makes them happy. Imagine how happy your clients would be to receive an expensive repair done free. That earns you referrals.
5 Tips to Grow Your Auto Repair Business
So, you’re looking for ways to grow your auto repair business. You may have covered all your bases with a website, direct mailers, maybe even a little PPC budget from time to time. But still, you’re unhappy with the results. The problem with the automotive repair industry is that people don’t generally tend to think about your services until they suddenly need them. So how do you make sure that yours is the first business they find when they start looking? I’ll go over 5 surefire ways to increase your car count and grow your auto repair business.
- Brand Loyalty. Does your business have a narrative? People don’t just make decisions on a whim. We like to buy from people not only because of their pricing, or cool logos… but because we know WHY they do what they do. You want to capture the emotions of your customers, and then justify their decision with logic. An example of emotion may be that you’re an active sponsor of the town’s little league teams or for every vehicle serviced you donate a portion of your profits to Kars4Kids. The logic side of the buying decision would be your “We’re ASE Certified” or “we have a night time drop off service.” Pro-tip: If you’re thinking about attaching a mission to your business like I just described, please don’t just choose one and toss it up on your website. It should be something that is meaningful, and can be woven into every decision your staff make. So often I see business owners who say “Yea, I have a website, I don’t need your web design service.” But do you have a website or marketing campaign just to have one, or have you really taken the time to define your audience, define their needs, and then offer a solution to their problems? My guess is for most of you, you haven’t. As a business owner myself, I completely understand where you may have dropped the ball on this. Running around servicing your customers, putting out fires with employees (real or otherwise) phones ringing, sick kids…. I get it! But I highly recommend scheduling some time with your key employees and taking it back to the basics. Why did you start this auto repair business in the first place? What drives you to wake up and come to work every day? Feel free to use our brand tuneup worksheet to get the creative juices flowing. Have FUN with it! Growing your auto repair business doesn’t have to be difficult.
2. Solve Your Customer’s Pain Points. This is a quick and easy one that is often overlooked. I won’t spend too much time on this point because it’s really a matter of who your specific audience is, but here are a few surefire offerings that will benefit you no matter where your auto repair shop is located.
- Offer either a shuttle service or a rebate for an Uber/Lyft service. Having to worry about asking someone to follow you to the shop to drop your car off is always a concern for your customer. Addressing this ahead of time takes the stress out of the equation.
- Offer Free Towing with service.
- Coffee. And I mean good coffee, not coffee that’s been sitting on a crusty, cold burner for 3 days. Trust me on this one… if you have bad coffee, your customer will assume your service is just as bad. Don’t believe me? Ask the next customer what they think of your coffee and watch their face.
- Clean your waiting area and bathrooms. Rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t ask your mother to use your bathroom, it’s probably not suitable for your customers either. Clean it!
- Wifi. This one’s a no brainer. People are literally obsessed with their phones (and phone bills) and love to see that oh so prominent Wifi logo in your shop’s window. There’s an article I read recently that said people touch their phones almost 3,000 times a day. Yikes!
3. Female Friendly. That’s right. I said it! Women account for billions and billions of auto repair service dollars every year. They also are extremely choosy of where they get their vehicles serviced, being this is a male dominated industry. You can even become Female Friendly Certified through AskPatty.com. Now, imagine your wife is looking at two auto repair shop websites. One of them has your typical “Best Shop in Town!” slogan, and the other has a female friendly certification badge, empathizes with their concern about dropping off their car and offers free shuttle service, and playfully boasts about having the best coffee in all of Austin, TX. Which shop do you think she’s going to choose?
4. Become a Subject Matter Expert. This one will help you both short and long-term. Chances are the majority of your competitor auto repair shop owners are not taking the time to do this. Write a blog post once a week, create a monthly newsletter, heck.. Even throw an annual workshop for your community. When writing blog posts for your website, try to approach it from a “They Ask, We Answer” philosophy. What do your customers need to know? Perhaps how to perform a DIY Oil Change, or What to check for before taking a long road trip. The type of content subjects that really seem to move the needle in terms of conversions, engagement, leads and sales are what we’ll call The Big 5. They are as follows:
- Pricing & Costs
- Versus & Comparisons
- Best in Class
All of this will help build trust, which is crucial to success in the automotive industry, and generate new leads from customers looking for a trusted guide for their vehicle servicing needs.
5. Ask for Reviews & Referrals. . This one you can start implementing right away. Reviews not only provide social proof for potential customer looking for auto repair service, but they also play a major role in search engine rankings. Referrals are well.. Referrals. There’s no easier sell than having a friend suggest your business over the next. If you’re offering transparent service that you are proud of (think back to the mother comment) then you shouldn’t be shy about asking for a review or a referral. You’d be surprised how quickly this little trick can scale your business and increase your car count. I’d even recommend adding the ability to have your customer visit your shop website to leave the review, where it could post to all major review sites like Google+, Yelp, Etc…
I hope this article helped you guys out a bit. I know they aren’t all innovative ideas that nobody ever told you before, but they definitely are all important and often overlooked. If you take the time to make these a priority in your shop, you will see how quickly you can grow your auto repair business.
A healthy repair business will increase its sales two ways: by attracting new customers and by earning greater sales from existing clients. That’s how big businesses do it, so let’s take some tips from them.
It’s More Profitable to Develop Current Customers than to Advertise for New Ones
Advertising to get new customers is expensive. Plus, it takes a long time to learn how to advertise successfully. Like dieting and exercising to become healthier takes time, learning to advertise correctly takes time.
But you already have customers who like and trust you. Many of them would be willing to buy more services from you, if you approach them about it correctly. That’s why learning how to serve your present clients better is the fastest and least expensive way to grow your sales.
Learn a Tip from Big Companies – Segment Your Customer Base
With your experience in the repair business you already know that some customers are more profitable than others. Other customers are average buyers, and still others are less frequent and less profitable clients. That’s normal in any type of business. That’s why when you market (offer things for sale) you want to do it in several unique ways that appeal to each type of customer best.
Dividing your customers into groups like that, to make different offers to each group, is called segmentation. There are many ways to segment your clients, and potential clients for that matter. Which way is best?
The common mistake is to target high-income people with marketing efforts. That’s especially true with direct mail advertising. Shop owners instinctively want to draw in more affluent customers.
But you might have noticed that many affluent people are not good customers for you. They might buy the least amount of services from you but demand more of your time than anybody else does. There are ‘cheapskate’ customers like them in every neighborhood, but there are high-spenders in every neighborhood as well.
Segment by Buying Behavior Instead
Therefore, you want to segment your customers by their behavior – by their buying habits. Again, this is common practice in all well-run businesses. You want to develop your small spenders into average spenders, and your average spenders into above average spenders. You do that by offering them more things they might like to purchase.
For your great customers, though, you offer loyalty programs, like rewards for being frequent buyers or big spenders. Airlines, credit cards, hair cutters, restaurants and many other business offer rewards to their best customers to encourage them to remain loyal. And many customers expect to be appreciated like that. Make sense?
Segment by Buying Behavior Into 4 Groups
As you learn to think about marketing by segmenting, divide your customer base into four groups: low spenders, occasional buyers, average customers and finally your great clients.
If you can develop four different marketing programs that appeal differently to each segment of customers, then you are already better at marketing than most shop owners. But when exactly do you offer extra services to clients, to encourage them to buy more?
Don’t Sell – Help Instead
Don’t push services; offer or suggest them instead.
When you buy anything online from companies that are good at marketing, you will see their active upsell systems at work. That is, as soon as you place an online item ‘in your shopping cart’ up pops more suggested items for you to consider buying.
You might even see a message that says something like ‘Other people who bought your item also bought these other items as well.’ Clever, isn’t it?
Here is their reasoning: If you are willing to purchase one item, chances are you might be willing to buy related products as well, if they would suit your purposes. You can use the same reasoning with your own clients.
Avoid this Common Mistake
The ‘upsell’ tactic is widely misused in the auto repair industry. How many times have clients brought in a receipt for an oil change they had done somewhere else, and on the paperwork was a list of a dozen, or more, additional items that were ‘recommended.’ That is overwhelming to consumers, and it creates a bad impression as well.
There is a better way to offer more services to people. In fact, it is a good idea to get the word ‘upsell’ out of your vocabulary.
A Better Selling Approach – Offer Choices
The quick oil change list of ‘recommended’ services creates a bad impression because the customer was not asked to give permission for their car to be inspected. It is seen as a pushy sales tactic, and it drives customers away. It is a hard sell approach that people don’t like it.
Instead, make offers. Give the customers things to consider, several options to choose from. That allows them the feeling that they are in charge, in control, of the buying process. Really, they should be in control. So, what can you offer each of your four client segments to increase your sales?
Inspections are great offers. It could be simple, like a quick visual check of common items during an oil change. If you first get the customer’s permission to look their car over, then they will be more receptive to buying what you come back and offer them. After all, they invited you to look the car over and to give a report on it.
Even though there is little to no profit in oil changes, they are a valuable opportunity to ‘get in front’ of customer, as professional salespeople call the process of prospecting for new sales.
Another way to serve people better (during oil changes) is to offer to go over their owner’s manual with them. Many people don’t know about the maintenance schedule in their owner’s manuals, and, when informed about it, some will be willing to bring the neglected maintenance up to date. But if you don’t offer them that choice you won’t get those sales. It costs you nothing to review an owner’s manual with a customer while their oil is being changed, but you can earn some great sales from it – and an appreciative client as well.
The Single Most Powerful Tactic in Marketing
The offer. The deal. The special. If you want people to respond to you, you must first make them an offer. That bears repeating. Don’t tell people how great your shop is. Offer them something instead.
Do you need ideas on what your shop can offer, especially to the four different segments of your customer base? Ask your technicians for ideas.
Most techs want to stay busy, to have better clients, to earn more money. Smart techs will make small concessions to get more sales. But they will resent being told what they have to do at a cut rate or at a discount as part of your marketing promotions. So, make it their idea instead.
Let your techs come up with ideas of offers, of package deals and the like. They know what types of vehicles your shop works on, and what types of clients you have. And your techs will cooperate more with you when it is their ideas you are promoting to clients.
For example, many techs would offer a wheel balance at a small discount, if they do it while the wheels are already off the car for a brake repair. Want to sell more fuel filter replacements? Offer a small discount if the car is already on the lift. You get the idea, it takes less time so you can offer a discount. Try it a few dozen times and see what happens. Don’t forget to put up a small sign in your waiting room about your ‘specials of the month, like the wheel balances and fuel filters.’ Promote the service deals and people will start asking you questions about them.
Use Your Menu Board Wisely to Make Offers
Every vehicle inspection doesn’t have to be done for free. Again, think in terms of buying motives to see what people would want to buy from you.
The ‘going on vacation’ special is a great idea. Think of common things people buy from you before they take their car on vacation, and package them all together for one price. Include extra time to check the car over and to come back with recommendations. The recommendations are what they are buying, because their buying motive is avoiding worry about breakdowns far from home. Give them what they want.
The ‘going back to school’ inspection is good. For one price offer a good mechanical inspection and a few basic maintenance services. With those inspections, you will find many batteries near the end of their lives, many hoses and belts coming due for replacement, and the like. Many people want to be informed about all that, and would prefer to have the work done now, before their son or daughter takes the car far away to college. Again, avoiding worry is their buying motive, not saving every penny they can, so address their buying motive.
Developing your customer base is an ongoing project. The more effort you put into it, and the longer you work at it, the better you will become at earning more sales.