The following content is from a guest contributor.
Any business owner has multiple areas of their company that must be thought through, planned and managed each and every day. From production to sales to recruiting, it can easily get overwhelming. It’s crucial that a shop owner not take their eye off the ball when it comes to marketing . Without a robust marketing initiative, the business is setting itself up for stagnant growth and may find themselves in a perpetual ‘catch-up’ stage financially.
Marketing is not a vague or indeterminate component of running an independent repair shop. It’s a concrete set of strategic plans and actions that directly affect profits and growth.
At its core, marketing a business needs to accomplish multiple things at the same time.
- Promote the business to potential customers.
- Promote the business to existing customers.
- Establish a brand and identity for the business that is consistent across all platforms and outreach.
All with the goal of increasing profits.
The following marketing tactics are proven actions to take a shop to the next level of success.
Definition: Serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function. – Merriam Webster
These elements are the essentials or the Fundamental parts of a robust marketing effort.
Planning – The owner of a business needs to think ahead. And with any marketing element, it must be strategized and written down in a formal plan. The goals of the business need to be stated along with a specific path to reach that goal. The next step is to think about the various marketing initiatives you can use to promote your shop. Good planning will ensure you stay on budget and the goals are clearly managed. Last but not least, include and think about who your customer is in the planning. Having a handle on who they are and what they need from a repair shop will prove valuable.
Branding – All of your communications — be it your website, social media, postcards, community outreach, and even your business cards — all need to have the same look and feel. When developing your logo think about the various platforms and places it will be used and make sure it looks clear and readable on all. In addition, think about what the logo represents. Does it showcase what your shop is? If so, it should be used in all shop signage too. In addition, the colors you use need to be used across all areas. All of this needs to be consistent across the board.
Website – An effective website is the 101 of your business. This is the shop’s home base of any promotion or message to both existing and new customers along with the community at-large. Of course, just having a website doesn’t cut it. A great website should be regularly updated with new photos and information. This connection to the public says you are open for business with a talented crew on board. Plus, you get that important side benefit of being a great place to recruit that next talented team member.
Social Media – The world is driven by social media and it’s your responsibility as the business owner to put your shop’s best foot forward. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or Nextdoor are all important. One fundamental rule applies to all of them. And that is consistency. It’s not good enough to post something every once-in-a-while. Each week you need to have multiple postings. Make sure to use photos, but don’t feel the need to spend money to hire a professional. Something clear that represents your shop, its employees and the overall tone of your business will do the trick. These can range from a photo of a new Service Advisor with a nice ‘welcome aboard’ message to that week’s special for new customers.
Emails – For anyone that calls or steps foot in your shop – get their email address. As you build your customer base, this is one of the best and most direct methods for communicating with them one-on-one. When you do, always think of your subject line. If you send out monthly newsletters, they can not just say ABC Repair Shop Newsletter. The subject line is the vehicle to get someone to open the email up, so show the benefit right away. Try something like Get Your 40% Discount Code from ABC Repair Shop. And with each email blast you send, change that subject line up – it can’t always be the same or you risk fatiguing your customer base.
Direct Mail – Yes, postcards. In addition to all of the digital plans, postcards mailed to customers and possible customers is key. You can even target your postcard sends to be received by people that just moved into your area. Direct mail can be an essential part of your marketing plan.
Definition: The extending of services or assistance beyond current or usual limits. – Merriam Webster
What are your PR actions? What is your community outreach? This matters. From becoming a member of a local philanthropic group, to sponsoring a local little league team, to even hosting in-store events – these actions will bring the profile of your shop up in your area. This results in brand awareness which results in more potential customers reaching out to you for repair service which results in greater profits.
Cause PR Marketing – This starts with what is personally important to you. Who would you as a business owner like to help? Here’s an idea: Once-a-year you could give a car away to someone in need in your town. This type of outreach is a win for all involved. The business owner feels good about helping someone who needs it. The employees feel good about working on a car that will eventually go to someone that needs vital transportation. Reach out to your local media and they’ll be happy to cover the event and link back to your shop’s website. It doesn’t have to be a car give-away either. Maybe it’s a monthly drawing to benefit the local Girls and Boys Club. Or maybe you have a yearly scholarship for future techs.
This is just an overview of some of the more important marketing actions an independent repair shop should take. This is by no means a comprehensive list. But the key is to understand that marketing, if executed properly, will directly affect your profits. It’s just as important as car count or hiring great employees.
If you need help with your marketing plans, DRIVE is ready to help. Please give us a call today at 818.863.1077 or fill out our contact us form.
DRIVE is the largest automotive and truck repair coaching and high-tech management training company in North America. With over 25 years of experience, their continuing aim is to provide shop owners with best-in-class training, organizational skills, management tools – while improving their quality of life. The goal of DRIVE is to fully arm shop owners with every executive and management ability needed to win and grow their business.
Originally published Oct 06, 2020, updated