At the end of 2016, there were 23,448 automobile shops in Canada, and that doesn’t include those that are attached to an automobile dealership. This number has continued to rise in some areas.
Here are some other statistics:
- Canadians own over 18 million vehicles, and the Canadian automobile industry can be counted on to move over 2 million cars per year.
- In 2018, the number of cars moved in Canada was 2,003,506. With such a large number of vehicles never making it to a mechanic due to turnover, auto shop owners can’t be passive in their marketing efforts.
Competitors lurk, waiting to take your customers, and with the industry growing, more competitors will emerge. The independent automobile mechanic must work hard to keep the customers they have and to attract new ones.
Here are ten marketing ideas for auto repair shops that not only keep customers coming back but also expand your clientele.
1. A Car Advice Blog
Operating a website for your business is a given. Maintaining and updating that website is the challenge auto shop owners face. One way to drive visitors to your site is to start a car advice blog. If the content you produce provides direct value to your most-likely customers, consumers will revisit your website and maybe even subscribe. This gives you opportunities to inform them of specials, educate them about their vehicles, and remind them of services that their cars need (more on this last point later). Understanding what cars are owned in your regional radius will also give you an idea of where to target your automobile blog.
2. Social Media
Just like your website is a standard part of your auto shop’s marketing, so is creating a social media presence. Consistent posting on Facebook is essential to show those who hear about you that you’re open and ready to help your customers. Pick a schedule and stick to it so that your followers (who are most likely also your customers) can learn when to expect new content from you.
Post at a consistent time each day or each week on Facebook. The possibilities for the type of content you post are limitless:
- coupons and special offers
- links to your blog
- customer testimonials
- helpful advice and recommendations for maintenance
- Recall information for major car manufacturers
An active page can inspire active conversations. People may comment on your posts or directly message your page. Your shop should have someone dedicated to answering these questions in a timely manner. The quicker you reply, the quicker they can get into your shop. Did you know that Facebook Messenger is the highest volume customer service communication platform? It can be a game-changer for your business to leverage an affordable automation tool like Mobile Monkey to automate the process on messenger to book appointments.
Best of all, a social media strategy can be relatively inexpensive. It just requires consistency and regular attention.
3. Timely Incentives
Coupons provide a low-cost, high-exposure option that draws new customers and reminds existing customers of the excellent service you provide. Offers you could use include:
- Half-off oil change
- Free oil change with the purchase of an emission/safety test
- Free oil change with any repair of more than a certain dollar amount
- Free/reduced cost tire rotation with the purchase of another service
- A certain dollar amount off a specific service (e.g., $25 off a tuneup)
- A certain percentage off the cost of an overall bill
The key to making coupons work is getting them into the hands of the right people. Register tape advertising that appears on the back of grocery store receipts offers a perfect – and cost-effective – means of delivery. Because your auto shop coupon is placed on the backs of receipts at a grocery store that is close to your shop, you will repeatedly deliver the coupon to people who are most likely to use your services. This method not only hyper-targets the local customers you want to attract, but it also fits into virtually any auto shop marketing budget (reaching 1,000 customers can cost as little as $6).
4. Customer Referrals
Another sound marketing strategy for auto shop owners is to get your existing customers to do some marketing for you. Referral programs encourage customers to tell their friends and family about your great service and reward them with a free oil change or a discounted service – an offer they can’t get anywhere else, plus it keeps them coming back to you for more services. An exclusive incentive is a powerful motivator for customers who simply need to sing your praises to others to earn the reward.
5. Online Reviews
If your customers are willing to share their positive experiences with friends or family, they should also be willing to leave you a review to help others find you and learn more about your business.
Setting up a reminder at your cash register, a simple follow-up call, or a thank you email with a link to leave the review are three easy ways to increase your online reputation.
6. Customer Loyalty Programs
People like free stuff. Offering a loyalty program that allows customers to earn free oil changes or other repair services is a great way to show appreciation to existing customers. This can be as simple and low-tech as a punch card that promises a free oil change after five paid oil changes, or as sophisticated as a points program in which customers earn a bonus after a certain amount of money spent on services. Loyalty programs provide an incentive for customers to keep visiting your auto shop and follow through on repairs that they may have been putting off. This results in more revenue for your business over time.
When creating a loyalty program, think of what works, consider what would be your best customer and how to make them feel appreciated. Many loyalty programs attract and incentivize customers who are only there for a deal and don’t actually create a more loyal clientele.
Our Marketing Team can help create the right offering for your auto repair shop, integrate your offer into your marketing and implement the process so you can get focus on running your business.
7. Service Reminders
The little stickers you put on customers’ windshields are great reminders for them to come back for the next scheduled service. Many additional ways (digital stickers, so to speak) are available to provide that reminder; emails, texts, and social media direct messages. Moreover, these service reminders can include a discount coupon for the service, links to your website and blog, or a way to confirm an appointment without actually having to call the shop. In this way, you are marketing to your customers without them even realizing it. They simply think you are reminding them about the next oil change or tire rotation.
8. Make it Easier for Customers to Find You
SEO Matters. Are you appearing in relevant search terms on Google for all of the services you offer? Are you appearing in the right geographic location? You don’t want to appeal to the customers that live five hours away from you. You want to appear in relevant searches for potential clients who will actually come to your shop.
67% of all search traffic goes to the first 5 search results. Being positioned based on Authority, Relevance and Trust are essential to gaining new customers who are looking for your services in your area.
Search Engine Optimization is a critical part of marketing for auto repair shops like yours because many people are not looking to find you until a specific problem exists with their vehicle.
9. Modern Website Design
The functionality of your website will help with SEO, however, the design should focus on the user experience, specifically getting people to complete the task or fulfill the reason they came to your website in the first place. For the most part, that is learning something that relates to their vehicle or booking an appointment.
Here are some critical questions we ask during our website design process:
- Does your website have an attractive look on any device, and does it load fast enough?
- Are all of your services easily found and properly explained?
- Do you have a FAQ page that adds value and leads someone to book an appointment?
- Is your blog active and regularly updated?
- How easy is it to book an appointment, and does it work on mobile?
- Does your website position you as trustworthy?
Answering any of these questions with less than a positive response means it’s time to get to work. Building your website into a business tool and resource for customers will make you stand out in your field.
10. Share Useful Tips
Taking some of the content from your website’s blog or social media and printing it can be a helpful reminder of daily tips for your customers. Keep it in line with the services that you offer, like printing a ruler on card-stock that helps measure the tread remaining on their tires or how to read a dip-stick to check their oil levels.
These helpful tools are great for all of your digital marketing efforts, but really pay off in real life when it can evolve from good content to a useful tool.
Marketing is just as important to bring customers back as it is to find new customers. In fact, the easiest business is sometimes the one that is planned for the future… make the follow-up and re-booking a priority that can also be automated with Email Marketing and Facebook Messenger.
Finding the best ways to advertise in your local area is the key to driving new customers to your shop. Our team of digital marketing specialists can create a free Digital Presence Report that scores your current online positioning by using over 200 different criteria. Complete the form below to have your Digital Presence Report created for your business.
The automotive marketing team at 323 Media is dedicated to working with business owners who run auto repair shops, service centers, dealerships and more to provide top customer experiences, generate leads, increase lifetime value of customers by building loyalty, building reputation and authority. Website Design, SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media and Marketing strategy are all custom-designed to suit your automotive business’ needs.