Effective marketing is one of the keys to growing any business, but automotive marketing is especially important. It’s all too easy for customers—both existing and potential ones—to forget about your brand until they need you, which makes them susceptible to your competitors. In today’s post, we’ll discuss eight different marketing tips for your auto repair business that will help keep your business growing.
1. Email Marketing
Email is probably the fastest and easiest way to keep in touch with your customers, no matter which aspect of your business they’re interested in. There are also numerous tools to help you successfully track emails—e.g., whether an email gets opened or when—as well as gather other metrics such as response rates.
You can turn that data into something even more useful: segmentation. Remember, your email newsletters are something that your readers have opted into, i.e., they’re ready to hear what you have to say. It’s your responsibility to make sure what they’re hearing is most effective for helping them choose your brand, either for the first time or for continued service. Segmentation is a method of targeting that helps you reach customers where they are along their consumer journey.
You should also be using your email lists as a platform for promoting your other content and channels. After all, customers expect a smooth, omnichannel experience, so offer them snippets of your blog, embedded media, and links to social media outlets and news. Use your email marketing to help build a cohesive experience for your customer.
2. Loyalty Programs
Even auto dealerships are discovering that loyalty programs help retain customers and sell new services. According to a study by the Performance Loyalty Group, customers that signed up for a loyalty program visited the dealership’s service department about twice as often and spent twice as much. In fact, it led to selling 15 more vehicles monthly.
Certainly, an auto repair business has different needs, but the effectiveness of these programs in dealerships is a signal that you should be taking advantage of them too, because customers feel like they have something to gain. They want the added value that loyalty rewards lend to typical maintenance services like oil changes and tire rotations. If you already have a loyalty plan, remember that it, like every vehicle that comes into your shop, needs regular maintenance and tune ups to continue being effective. You should be tracking what customers are (or aren’t) taking advantage of so that you can maximize the value they’re receiving.
3. Saying Thanks
Aside from helping the customer feel like you really appreciate their business, saying thanks with a post-transaction follow up can help you kill two birds with one stone: engender the idea that your business puts an emphasis on the customer experience and engage them in the opportunity to share a review, write a testimonial, and point out any areas you might not realize need improvement. Whether you do this by phone, direct mail, email, or survey doesn’t matter as much as having a plan to do it and following through. It will help cement the idea that they made the right choice by going with your shop over the competition.
4. Reviews and Referrals
Speaking of testimonials, reviews, and referrals, they’re more important than you might think. Recent studies show that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation directly from someone they know, 90% of consumers actively consume online reviews before deciding to visit a business, and 72% of consumers take action only after reading positive reviews. Point blank, reviews can make or break a small business, and it’s becoming easier and easier for customers to leave reviews thanks to sites like Yelp and Google.
That means that you can’t just hope customers will leave a good review or offer a referral. You need to ask for them. You need to make them a priority, and that probably means you’ll also need to train your employees to ask for them.
5. Social Reputation
Having a social presence online is vital, but that’s not just because of the marketing opportunities social media offers. Aside from sharing updates about industry news, special events your shop is hosting, and current promotions, social media is a key aspect to managing your business reputation online. That’s because social media, when leveraged properly, gives your business a proactive stance to both negative and positive commentary. You may feel like you’re too busy to handle this angle of social media, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Whether you decide to contract a social media director or not, being busy means that having social listening tools are that much more important.
The effect is undeniable. According to the London School of Economics, a 2% reduction in negative word-of-mouth meant a sales lift of 1%. Of course, that means reacting to bad reviews and nasty social interactions in the right way, i.e., promptly, politely, and with proactive solutions. Of course, you need to bear in mind the best practices for engaging online reviewers, especially through social media. You can’t treat customer responses flippantly, or ignore them, so make sure you’re answering them respectfully and refocus the conversation on improving their experience of your brand.
6. Promoting for Holidays & Community
Keying in to holidays to reach out to and run promotions for your community year round can open up new chances to connect with customers. While some major holidays seem obvious, consider smaller holidays that can be more meaningful. For instance, a special discount for educators during Teacher Appreciation Week, or for veterans or active military personnel for Military Appreciation Month, is an easy way to show how much your business cares about locals without too much of a risk to your revenue. You can also use it as an opportunity to participate in charity, using either a portion of purchases to make a donation or exchange discounts for customer donations. Take the time to look at what kind of people make up your customer base and find the days that celebrate them. Some other holidays you can build promotions around include Father’s Day, Earth Day, and Veteran’s Day.
Similarly, remember that promotion doesn’t have to mean price slashing, and celebrating the community can be about particular events and causes as much as it is about holidays. Consider whether or not there are charitable events you can be a part of, or even sponsor. This builds a positive brand identity that increases the likelihood of customers wanting to engage your business.
7. Offer Tips and Resources
More and more often, customers are turning to the internet with how-to type questions. Obviously, you want people to come into your shop for services, not do them at home, but withholding that information isn’t going to turn into a sale—the customer will find that information somewhere else. Instead, you want to build a relationship with a customer so that they want to come to your shop. This means having the content available to establish your auto repair business as a leader in the market and worthy of consumer trust.
This information can cover all sorts of things, from how to save gas and pre-travel tips to how to tell when various parts need a repair or how to perform certain repairs or tune ups on your own. While there are all sorts of ways to do this, you definitely ought to take advantage of video when you can. Take high-end motorcycle retailer RevZilla as an example: they saw a 50% increase in revenue over three years by offering videos that demonstrated new products and safety tips. Be brave enough to provide customers with the how-to information they’re looking for, and establish yourself as a leader with a customer-first attitude in the process.
8. Utilize Coupons
Coupons are a feature that most consumers have been “trained” to look for prior to getting auto work done. For example, many consumers would not go to Jiffy Lube, Goodyear, Midas or other big name auto service centers for an oil change without a coupon. In fact, 32% of do-it-for-me consumers are using the internet specifically to find coupons and discounts, up 2.9% over just one year ago.
Just remember that coupons are about value and promoting your business; your coupon offers don’t need to include major price cuts for big ticket services. Most auto retailers offer coupons, bundles, specials, and other discounts for some of their lower ticket items in order to gain bigger business from their consumers on the services that have more margin. After all, your coupon is what should be bringing them through the door once, and your service and care should be what keeps them coming back.
Start Growing Your Auto Repair Business Through Marketing Now!
Not sure how to turn these tips into actionable steps toward marketing your auto repair business? Below are some questions and tips to get you started. Remember to consider which ones you can dive into immediately, and which will take a little time to rev up and be implemented properly.
- Have you developed an email marketing plan? This should involve more than simply the content of your emails.
- By segmenting your email lists, you can better personalize the emails a customer receives, and you can move beyond simple newsletters to take advantage of automated options.
- Always make sure your content is responsive—including your emails! Mobile-first campaigns are vital to reaching your customers no matter where they are.
- Take a look at what auto dealerships are doing with loyalty programs to retain customers.
- In part, this is to keep them from stealing your customers, but it’s also because few other loyalty programs speak to the needs of the auto industry. What tactics can you learn from them?
- Chances are high that it will be much more effective to keep your loyalty rewards focused on automotive options. What free services or discounts can you offer that will make your brand look good without hurting your wallet?
- What can you do to bring back lapsed customers? Are you using email marketing and loyalty rewards to do it?
- Develop a plan to ask for more testimonials, referrals and reviews. Be sure you have a business profile on different review and referral sites, and remember to be careful with Seattle, WA (SEA-Seattle – Tacoma Intl.) incentives.
- Are you asking the right questions when you ask for a testimonial or review? Remember you want them to be as authentic as possible, so gear questions to make them as balanced as possible.
- Find out what their hesitations were, what they didn’t like and if you were able to turn that into a better experience, as well as what they felt the benefits were.
- Educate the customer in why they should choose your auto brand.
- What do you offer that your competitors don’t? Are your employees knowledgeable about your USP or appropriate accolades? Are they sharing that information with customers on the shop floor?
Just taking advantage of these eight easy marketing tips for your auto repair business will boost your reputation and your business. You need to take the time to audit your current automotive marketing to see if there are changes that should be made when you develop plans for how to market your auto repair business. It’s well worth the time strengthening the areas where your marketing strategy is weakest, offering a competitive edge that will put you above and beyond other repair shops in your market.