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

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.