“You should go see my mechanic. I’ve been going to him for years, and he’s always been fair on price.”
Just because it’s 2019, and the Internet has taken over doesn’t mean Word of Mouth marketing isn’t essential. Just as they did 50 years ago, many privately owned auto repair businesses rely on their reputation as a means of developing business. That’s not going to change any time soon.
However, since the Internet has taken over, here are a few fundamental ways you can use digital marketing to compliment and encourage those uber-important ‘word of mouth’ referrals that keep new customers walking in the door.
Auto Repair Shop Marketing
News-flash: Marketing is critical. For example, in the physical world, if your store lacks attractive signage and the inside is dark and dirty, many retail customers are going to avoid you regardless of how well you fix vehicles.
It’s an easy trap for even the most qualified shop owners to fall into – and for good reason. When they’re not dealing with customers or fixing vehicles, they are spending what little time is left training for a new set of model year vehicles.
Sure, the best mechanics are ones that fix vehicles as efficiently as possible. But, the most profitable shops are ones that build on that efficiency through marketing.
As a rule of thumb, think of marketing as an investment into your reputation. You’ll want to exercise that investment every day and never stop. As a result over time, more people will remember your shop and what you offer, and that will pay off not just when their car needs a tune, but when their family and friends are asking for recommendations.
Create A Website
Start with a website. Your website is your base and serves to inform not just customers researching local shops online, but the bots that feed the online referral websites like Google Local, Yelp, Yellowpages, and the others.
If designed and coded properly, your website will quickly inform customers and search engines alike who you are, where you’re located, and your service expertise.
Now, there are a lot of tools out there that can help you build a website. Be careful and choose your website software wisely. Consider using a local developer with expertise. Liken it to a vehicle…just because there are a million repair videos on YouTube doesn’t mean your customers can start fixing their own cars.
Consider working with a company like SITESTR who works with businesses to build a properly coded website that effectively markets their business. Besides, when someone recommends your business, you want your website to close the deal and get that customer in the shop.
Now that you have a website, its time to start telling people to visit it.
In 2019, the best places to share company information is still Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIN. If you have time, consider sharing short messages on Twitter.
People may have serious problems with the impact Social Media has on society, but that’s not our concern here. Sharing your expertise, company culture, and requesting your friends and family already on social media to share your messages is a great way to earn referrals and promote your brand.
If you have access to OEM discounts and promotions, share them, too. But remember…quality counts. After all, it’s is your reputation we’re talking about, so take extra care to share good images and messages that reinforce your expertise as an industry leader.
The social networks will penalize pages that lazily share poor quality material. Consider contracting with a local graphics expert who can help you create great looking content. Trust us here at SITESTR, your audience will notice, and your best customers will more likely share your material.
Use Email Marketing
Now that you have a website and a following on Social Media, consider investing in an email marketing campaign. Email is still a terrific way to connect with people and all of the big brands use email campaigns effectively to bring existing customers back into the store.
However, to run an email campaign, you are going to need email addresses. Are you asking for your customer’s email addresses at the time of purchase? If not, now is the time to start. See if your POS system has a function to email sales receipts.
Email marketing really lends itself to email as a channel because of the seasonality of it. An email campaign advertising winter tires in November and summer tires in April – no brainer. Want to dedicate 5% of sales to the local homeless shelter or offer discount pricing to the local school system? Email is a great way to get the word out because it is so easy for people to forward to their friends and family, thus expanding your reach.
Request for Reviews
This is a big one.
Since it’s your reputation we’re marketing here, those recommendation sites like Google My Business and Yelp are really important. Virtually every business already has reviews posted online – whether they know it or not.
While we like to think every customer that walks in the door leaves happy and satisfied, that’s not always the case. And what’s frustrating is how mean people can get when they do leave frustrated, regardless of why.
Think of online reviews as a conversation. Take time out to carefully respond to each one that gets posted, whether they are positive, negative, or neutral. Doing so will show that you care and that you take your reputation seriously. A politely worded response to even the nastiest review will demonstrate professionalism and maturity to potential customers currently considering your services.
I know what you are thinking…this article could have been written 10 years ago. And, you’d be right.
But the simple fact is marketing is something most businesses struggle with. And coming up with a marketing plan that promotes positive recommendations is difficult.
That’s why we recommend simplifying things and sticking with the fundamentals that have held true over time.
Would you revisit a restaurant with a dirty bathroom? For most people, probably not. Same is true with your digital presence. What does a bad website and Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since 2013 say about your repair shop?
Want to talk it over? Have some questions about where to get started? Why not give the experts at SITESTR a call? We tend to enjoy this stuff.
Contact us today or give us a call at (888) 909-5424.