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!

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.