Can I Afford Your Services? If That’s Your First Thought… This Article is for You

auto repair marketing cost

Auto Repair Shop Marketing – How Should I Budget?

Before we get started I’d like to get one point across if you’re a business owner or manager. You don’t need a website, SEO services, or anything to do with marketing. You need more MONEY (and also time, but for the sake of this article we’ll stick to money). To get more money.. you need you want better customers. You want better employees so you can offer better work with better equipment, to retain those better customers. Stop me where I’m wrong, please.

Now, in the case of costs associated with equipment, or higher skilled technicians, do you ask if you can afford them based on the money in your bank account, or do you operate like a smart business owner and look at them as an investment (as you should) and ask a “better” question. “How much of a return can I expect for investing in that better piece of equipment, or that employee with more experience than the kid who just graduated but is $15/hr cheaper?” The real question becomes can you afford NOT to invest in the better decision, as opposed to can I afford to spend this money. Make sense?

Likewise, you should think of your marketing dollars as an investment as well, not an expense. As a business owner, you can essentially do 3 things with your money;

  1. Spend it on yourself/your family
  2. Save it for yourself/your family
  3. Invest it back in your business

Hopefully by now you are an intelligent business owner and can do all of the above, or at least number 3. This way, you’re not concerned with the actual cost of your auto repair website or marketing campaign, but more-so with what it’s going to do for you. If you remember from up above, that means putting more money into your pocket. 

So let me give you an example of how a typical freelance web designer or marketer operates. If you’re wondering, I spent the better part of a decade operating this way (face palm) so I feel I’m somewhat qualified to speak on it. OK, their phone rings, and on the other line is someone like yourself, a business owner looking for all of those ‘better’ things we mentioned in the beginning of this article. 

Typical Freelancer– “Hi how can I help you?”

Business Owner– “I need a website for my repair shop”

Typical Freelancer– (thinking to him/herself, ‘great, here we go again, another penny pinching business owner who probably only cares about how much it’s going to cost, but damn, rent is due next week, I need the money) “OK, sir, I can build you a website for $1,200

Now, you cut them a check and the typical freelancer purchases a $10 theme, barely makes any edits (I’ve seen a lot of your websites who still have the “John Doe” testimonials that are built in to those templates..ouch!) Now because the project budget is so low, the freelancer has to do it all by themselves, which is frustrating because they have a million other things to do.

A few weeks go by and you get your site up on your domain, but it’s not bringing in any leads aka no more money into your pocket. You ask the freelancer to put a form above the fold (which is a great idea to get more free estimate requests btw) and the freelancer is even MORE frustrated. “Oh, great! Now he wants me to do more work, eating into my profit. This sucks! I’m not making any money, and I’m not bringing in any results. Aghhhh!” 

Therefore, you leave the freelancer, more frustrated than before and ultimately call an agency like ShopHawk. Here’s what’s going to happen;

If you find us online, chances are you will go through one of our sales funnels (which we can setup for your business as well) and be pre-qualified before we even get you on the phone. This not only saves us time, but you as well. Let’s be honest, this is business, and we both need to be a good fit for each other in order for both of us to grow. Would you agree?

Our phone call will be a bit different than what you are used to. You may call us and say the same:

Wise Business Owner- “I need a website for my auto repair shop.” and we may turn around and say

ShopHawk Professionals- “OK, great. Why do you need a website?” To which you reply

Wise Business Owner– “Well, I would like to get more leads for insurance body work or, I’d love to bring in more bumper repairs, since they are such high profit margins.”

ShopHawk Professionals– What’s your typical body work customer worth, and are you doing any kind of marketing now?”

Wise Business Owner– Well our average is about $4,000, but we just had a front end collision job on a dump truck that was around $17,000! We mostly do direct mailers, and a billboard every now and then.”

ShopHawk Professionals– Excellent. So, you need an overhaul of your website to attract, engage and delight new and returning site visitors. I’d suggest a trackable form above the fold to capture more free estimate leads, professionally written content to ensure we’re converting as many visitors as possible, and definitely adding analytics and a Facebook Pixel so we can track potential leads, and retarget those visits coming from your billboards or direct mailers that don’t end up converting into paying customers. We can also integrate some pretty neat automation to follow up with your customers and potential customers. So that’s to market to existing traffic, but it won’t necessarily bring you more online leads, for that we would recommend a combination of PPC ads and SEO to get direct search traffic, and some Facebook AD funnels as well. Does that make sense?”

Wise Business Owner– That makes perfect sense, actually. No one’s ever taken the time to explain that to me like that. Ok, so how much for the website and how much for the monthly marketing?”

ShopHawk Professionals– “You’re looking at $8,000 for the website, and around $2,000/month for marketing” **

At this point, the wise business owner sees he only needs a few customers a month to start seeing a return on his investment, and starts calculating the Lifetime Value of each customer.

Wise Business Owner– OK, great! Let’s do the website and one month of marketing as a test. (cuts check)

successful auto repair marketing

Subsequently, I can now afford to use my top level designers and copywriters to turn your website into a lead generating machine. A 24/7 virtual sales person and brand ambassador, which saves you countless hours by doing the majority of the selling and qualifying FOR YOU. I can also afford to bring on kick-ass auto repair marketing specialists, and even a dedicated project manager to ensure your project moves along smoothly. You’ll have access to clear contracts so you know what deliverables you are paying for, and a customer portal where you can access all of the above in one convenient spot. 

In closing, I hope this article has helped you better understand the power of perception and mindset. It’s the same in your business. We all need better employees, equipment, and customers.. so we can provide quality, CONSISTENT service to our market. Schedule a call with us today and let’s grow together. 

**Please note the prices above are used for the purpose of this article, and do not reflect actual pricing of service packages. Your actual investment will be calculated based on the needs and budget of your individual business. We look forward to speaking with you!

5 Ways Shop Managers Ruin Good Techs

find good technicians

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?

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. 

buyers journey

The Buyer’s Journey

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

attract engage delight website visitors

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. 

call to action image

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 success@wegrowshops.com.

Now go publish some content!

How to Keep Your Technicians Loyal, Happy and Productive

how to keep employees happy

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.

auto repair shop employee retention

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.

 

Summary

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!

Warranty Work – Pain or Profit?

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.

How to Grow Your Auto Repair Business | 5 Auto Repair Business Tips

grow auto repair shop business

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.

  1. 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.brand narrative

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 female friendly certifiedauto 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
  • Problems
  • Versus & Comparisons
  • Reviews
  • 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…

customer reviewsI 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.

How to Turn Average Customers into Great Ones

happy customer

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?

 

Ignore Demographics

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.

auto repair shop menu board 

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.

 

Experiment

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.

How to Run a Successful Auto Repair Shop

Running a Successful Automotive Repair Shop

Automotive repair works is a highly competitive field and if you want success in it, you need to make sure your shop is managed well and attracts a good number of customers. The right planning and execution can help you stay ahead of the game and establish a good reputation in your local area and provide you with a consistent customer base. Here are some tips that will help you run a successful automotive repair shop.

  1. Customer service matters

 

Modern customers place a lot of importance on customer experience and will shun businesses that don’t provide good quality customer service. That’s why it’s essential to focus on customer service in all aspects of your interactions with vehicle owners. Your customers should have a good experience from the moment they walk into your shop till the time they walk out of your shop. Train your repair technicians to communicate with clients in a friendly and professional manner. You should also have a dedicated customer service phone line so clients can contact you in case of emergencies.

 

  1. Offline marketing

 

The auto repair industry still relies on word of mouth so it’s a good idea to spend some time on offline marketing. Distribute pamphlets, place ads on your local publications, send newsletters to your existing clients and include promotional offers in them. All these small marketing strategies will help you establish a local reputation and presence. Without offline marketing, you’ll be a relatively unknown entity in your local area and won’t get as many customers as you otherwise could.

 

  1. Focus on quality

 

Modern customers don’t hesitate to criticize businesses if they don’t live up to expectations; and they have a big platform that allows them to publish their opinion. They can post reviews on websites like Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc. They can also comment on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. This criticism can have an impact on your reputation, which is why it’s important to focus on the quality of service. Make sure you have a well-trained staff and use good quality spare parts in your service.

 

  1. Relationship with your customer

 

Most auto repair businesses will have regular customers that seek out their services every time there’s car trouble. It’s a good idea to develop a good relationship with these customers and keep them engaged. You can send them emails, engage them on social media, and provide them special offers on different occasions. These strategies will help you develop a steady customer base that can help keep your business afloat even during slow periods.

 

  1. Online marketing

 

While offline word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, you need to market your business online as well. Online marketing will help prospective customers find you and learn more about your business. You can use strategies like paid ads, SEO, and social media marketing in order to establish an online presence and gain more visibility.

These factors will help you establish your auto repair shop and develop a steady customer base. Your business will last for a long time and have a steady stream of customers.

Three Clever Sales Lead Generation Ideas for Your Auto Shop

auto repair shop lead generation

Three Clever Sales Lead Generation Ideas for Your Auto Shop

Cold Calling

It may seem old fashioned, but cold calling still works! When you make a cold call, do not read off of a script. Keep in the forefront of your mind what your offer is and why it is valuable to the customer. Don’t be shy about telling them why your cars are great, fantastic value, and why they need them in their life! Brush up on all facets of your knowledge related to the cars and offers you are proffering.

Have a script, but don’t stick to it mechanically. Be prepared for the potential customer to say something that deviates from what you had in mind. Know it is fine for any polite exchange to happen, just attempt to make all exchanges with the goal of gaining a new customer, even if that person ends up remembering the call and coming back to you in the future. If you are going to have multiple people working on a cold call team, make sure they are well prepared. Rotate those employees you use for cold calls and those you use in other sales. All employees should be learning the flip sides of the skills they already utilise on a daily basis.

Videos

Videos on your website are great. They should always be informative about your product and geared towards making more sales, but after that you can get creative. For example, they could be humorous (videos about a large family travelling far squashed in a tiny car and needing a bigger one, as an example) or educational (videos about how a specific part of the car on offer is manufactured, for example), amongst other things.

Taking the time to make a video with your team can be a rewarding and enriching activity in itself, which draws the team closer together, which also helps to generate more sales. You may also post your videos on YouTube or another video sharing site like Vimeo. We are largely a species of visual learners, and people usually want what they can see. A good quality video that gives a good impression of the cars you sell can be invaluable.

Family Days

Family Days at your dealership are a fantastic way to generate business. By allowing people to come to your dealership in a more relaxed and causal setting than they may otherwise, you are effectively priming them to associate good times with buying from you. It can also be immensely useful in helping to firm up the plans of the casual buyer. If they have come in for food, music, fireworks, facepainting, or the like at your dealership, they will be more likely to come back to you rather than someone else when their purchasing plans start to solidify.

Visuals are powerful stimulators of desire; once you have potential customers in a place where they are surrounded by your cars, they are more likely to buy. You have to see it to believe it, as the saying goes.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Become A More Efficient Business

grow auto repair shop business

Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Become A More Efficient Business

In the workplace, we all have our own way of doing things. We streamline our business processes to the best of our abilities and we try to make them work for us. Sometimes this goes well, but other times businesses still suffer from frustrated employees, overlooked mistakes and wasted man-hours. In this article, we’re going to walk you through one of the ways we help our clients get on the right track and avoid pitfalls. If you’re suffering from missed deadlines, wasted resources, frustrated colleagues or incomplete work, read on. These valuable tips and tricks can be used to improve your informal processes and make your business more productive.

grow auto repair shop businessProcess Mapping

We encourage businesses to start by looking at some of the informal processes that consume the majority of their time. These could be simple tasks, such as data entry for a website, inputting sales information to a CRM or communicating meeting notes within departments. Map out the current method used to accomplish the task, and clearly identify the end goal (we recommend a visual flowchart method that all of your employees can easily resonate with). It’s important to include each step, and identify where there’s departmental crossover or collaboration. Be as detailed as possible with the steps and include other employees if you feel comfortable. Their input may add requirements that you weren’t aware of.

Critical Analysis

The second step in this process requires taking an analytical approach to the flowchart you’ve just created. If possible, meet with the members of your team who contribute to the specific process you’re evaluating and discuss where there are frustrations throughout the procedure. Ask which steps take the longest to complete and find out which feel the most essential to your staff. In addition to that, this is a good time to ask what the collaborators feel is wrong with the current method, and receive front-lines feedback for how it can improve. Make notes of the conversations with your staff, because you’ll reference it again at a later step.

strategies increase car countBecome an Architect

This is where you need to get creative and think outside of the box. Take your visual flowchart from step 1 and combine it with the feedback you’ve received from your team. Sit down and brainstorm different ways of accomplishing the same end goal, without being too concerned about the logistics (yet). Really rely on the input that your staff has suggested, since they’re the ones handling these tasks on a regular basis. Make sure that your end goal remains clearly identified as the top priority. During this time it’s good to evaluate how much time this task takes your workforce and consider how essential it is to the core function or your company.

Get Critical

Now that you have several new ideas laid out, take a critical approach to them and identify the potential pitfalls with each new plan. Again, it’s always great to include more perspectives if you’re comfortable leaning on your workforce for input. They’ll likely be able to aid your analysis and take a deeper approach to things you may not have considered. Weigh the pros and cons of each plan in order to clarify a “winner”. You’ll need to evaluate things like cost, timeliness, number of employees involved and potential training needs. Once you’ve decided which new process has the lowest risk factor and greatest level of compatibility, you’ll put it into place.

Note: Keep in mind that some employees are extremely resistant to change. Be sensitive to this and deploy strategies to keep everyone on-board and comfortable.

review shop dataReview your Data

After deploying the new strategy, follow up with your employees after one day, one week, two weeks and one month (if things are still going well after one month, you can continue to check-in on a monthly basis). During this time, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of user feedback, ease of use, cost of the new strategy (if software is involved), the time required to complete the task and the impact to your customers, if applicable. If there’s an impact to your customer base, try to run a survey or reach out to several affected clients in order to gauge user feedback. Keep in mind that things rarely go perfectly smoothly the first time, so you may find that you need to do further adjustments in order to continue to improve. As long as the cost, ease of use and timeliness of the new strategy have improved, you’ll know that you’ve made a great choice for your workplace.

As time goes on, the business processes that you use will need to be improved upon again and again. Customer needs change, demographics adjust, technology rapidly shifts and marketing techniques progress. If you find yourself becoming too overwhelmed by the rapid changes of the automotive industry, the experts are ShopPulse are ready to help. ShopPulse offers full-service marketing solutions that allow you to keep your eyes focused on the bigger picture. We stay current with digital trends and do the research required in order to dissect your demographic. While you streamline internal processes, you can count on us to be your most effective marketing solution.