How do I market an auto repair shop?
To get customers in the door of your auto repair shop (and to keep them coming back), you need trackable auto repair shop marketing strategies that can help you grow your business. Your marketing campaigns should be easy to analyze so you know what’s working and what’s not. While traditional advertising like print ads or TV/radio spots may expose your business to some new customers, their effectiveness is more difficult to track. Online marketing enables you to see:
Where visitors are coming from
What visitors are clicking on
What kind of content your target customers enjoy the most
Here are several digital marketing strategies your auto repair shop can use to grow your business, as well as some print and physical marketing ideas you might consider. If you are curious about what is the best marketing for auto repair shop, keep reading.
1. Website Branding
Your website is your digital storefront, and as such, it should portray an appealing view of your auto repair shop that gets people interested and wanting to come into your shop. Some basic best practices when creating your website so that it markets your business well include:
Use responsive design, since more internet usage occurs on mobile than any other device, and search engines like Google prioritize mobile-friendly websites in search results.
Secure your site with HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which is a secure internet communication protocol – which benefits users and your search results.
Create content on your website that accurately and clearly explains your services and includes reliable contact information.
You should also choose a domain name that reflects your business. Make it easy for those who visit your website to get in touch with you, by displaying live chat boxes throughout your site or by making the Contact tab prominent on each page.
2. Search Engine Optimization
Local businesses must use search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to get seen by web searchers. HubSpot, a digital marketing software company, reports 72 percent of consumers who did a local search, say for something like “Dallas auto shop,” visited a store within 5 miles. According to Google, 28 percent of searches for something nearby result in a purchase.
Make sure your website is SEO-friendly by:
Researching popular keywords that relate to your business, and then use those naturally throughout your website content
Adding those keywords to other websites your business has a presence on, like in the bios of your social media sites and review sites
Creating pages throughout your website that relate to keywords – for example, separate pages for each service you offer at your shop
As mentioned, the security and mobile-friendliness of your website also have effects on your search results. You may want to work with a professional website designer and SEO expert to optimize your website and content.
3. Social Media
It’s OK to hate Instagram, but your business should still create a profile on it. Pew Research Center reports on social media use in 2018:
- 73 percent of American adults use YouTube
- 68 percent of American adults use Facebook
- 35 percent of American adults use Instagram
- 25 percent of American adults use LinkedIn
- 24 percent of American adults use Twitter
There are dozens more social media sites to consider adding your business to, but these five are essential to start with. Some ideas for how to use them for your shop include:
- YouTube: Upload videos showing your technicians in action, or create video content with tips for car maintenance. Even if you’re not producing your own content yet, you can still connect with customers and other channels by interacting with auto-focused content on YouTube and leaving comments on behalf of your shop.
- Facebook: Share business updates like specials or service promotions.
- Instagram: This photo-sharing site is great to upload content like before-and-after shots of work you’ve done, or to share photos of your staff to promote your shop’s company culture.
- LinkedIn: You can share business updates on a company page, and create your own personal page to connect with other local business owners.
- Twitter: Twitter is a great site to form relationships with journalists and online influencers. Search popular hashtags, and share content from your business page that uses those hashtags, too.
Treat each social network your business is on as its own branded website. Make sure the bio reflects your business, include accurate contact information, and check your channels regularly in case clients are using them for customer support.
4. Email Marketing
Ask customers if they’d like to join an email list for your business so they can stay up-to-date on deals and new offerings. Always ask permission before adding a customer’s email to your list. If you start emailing clients without their permission, they may mark your business email as spam, which can affect your ability to email other customers in the future.
There are several free email marketing services you can use, depending on how many people you’re emailing and how often. With Mailchimp, for example, you can subscribe up to 2,000 people and send 12,000 emails a month for free.
Use email marketing to:
- Send a welcome email to new customers
- Spread the word about new services
- Share blogs or other forms of content marketing
Make sure any email marketing client you use offers instant one-click unsubscribe capabilities. Use A/B testing to manipulate certain elements within emails to see what techniques work best.
Word of Mouth
Did you know that when it comes to trusting what’s read on the internet, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust information coming from people they actually know? Which can seem a little daunting, but when it comes to auto repair shop marketing, this is a great opportunity to showcase what you do and get recognition for it.
Encourage customers to leave reviews whenever possible. When it comes to where you place on Google searches, the site takes around 200 factors into consideration, but online reviews are a huge component of it. Train and ask your staff to request reviews. It’s also encouraged to follow up with clients after their visits with you. This is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the benefits of your hard work without having to spend an extra dollar. Word of mouth is the best free advertisement around.
Content is King
The thing to remember – from how you rank on an internet search engine, to how people can find your company – is to ensure that you’re offering up value from the get-go. The easiest way to do this is by generating content to get people to click on your website. What does this mean for an auto repair shop?
- Create videos on simple car maintenance topics, like oil changes
- Write blog posts answering common questions people have
- Send out emails with special information your customers can’t get anywhere else
It might feel like the internet is full of thought leaders and people spinning content, but you can easily do it too, and better. Share your content on social media and make sure you’re following SEO best practices to enjoy the organic reach this content will get you. The more organic your online traffic is, the less you have to spend on advertisement.
Referrals and Partnerships
As an auto repair expert, you can grow your business and support others in your local community by building strategic partnerships. Talk to your local auto parts store. Go meet with them and explain what you do. Ask if they’d be willing to send customers your way and leave some business cards or brochures with them. To help solidify the relationship, offer to order some of your parts and supplies from the company if you’re not already doing it. Also, talk with local towing companies and insurance companies to see what you can do to become a preferred provider. Connect with other local businesses and offer discounts for repair services on their fleet vehicles.
Loyalty Programs For Regular Customers
You should appreciate your regular customers by providing them with incentives in the form a free service after a certain number of paid services. You can also gift them certain items. A loyalty program will let your customers know how much you value them. They will think twice before choosing a different auto repair shop. Thank them for being loyal customers in a festive season like Christmas. Send them reminders about exciting offers and deals. First, you need to keep your loyal customer base intact and then think of attracting newer ones.
Encourage customer reviews
Customers don’t typically make it a point to go and give you a review online. In extreme cases (extremely good and extremely bad) customers will go out of their way to give you a review, it’s the run of the mill happy customers you want to try to have them review you.
Good reviews also mean new leads – those who leave reviews (especially really positive ones) are like a referrer for your business.
Local community involvement
Getting involved in the local community is a great way to get your name and face out there. Not everyone is looking for your services today, but by being involved, you can be in their context once they are looking. Here are some ideas:
- Meetup: A great way to find local communities for auto repair shops. All of the meetups happen offline and locally, so get involved.
- Contribute help to local associations and citizen groups
- Offer help to local schools and PTAs and show support for your growing community
Share your business card with other local business and partners
Many local businesses with waiting areas allow other local businesses to place business cards (of course, you should also return the favor). For example, if you do mechanical work, look to place your business cards at a nearby body shop or tire shop. Other alternative cards include gyms, salons, daycares, as they all typically have a business cards share. Have your employees be on the lookout for these types of establishments. Like-minded businesses with a similar market can exchange cards and help each other grow.
Know Your Brand
It’s important for you to know your brand so that you can easily explain it to other people. Has your auto shop been in business for a long time? Is your business family owned? Whenever possible, you want to make sure that people can know and understand your brand’s image and what you stand for. Make sure to highlight customer testimonials along the way.
If you offer something specific, then make sure that you tell people – make it clear and transparent why they should use your auto shop over the competition.
It’s also important to make sure your branding is consistent across whatever platforms you use – your website, your Facebook, your Instagram, etc. Do you know what fonts you want to use and what the color scheme is? Things like this might seem trivial, but people remember visuals more strongly than words. Particularly if you are getting involved with outreach, it helps to have a logo that people can recognize and understand as your brand. Then when they’re wondering which auto shop to use, a particular one will come to mind.
When you’re planning your auto shop marketing strategy, it helps to look around and see what other people are doing and how well they’re doing it. What do you want to do the same? What do you want to do differently? Make sure you have everything listed out so you can track what’s working and log any helpful feedback.