If you own an auto repair shop, you want your business to be the go-to, first thought people have when their car or truck breaks down or needs maintenance. But how can you make that happen?
The answer is to create a marketing plan that reaches people who own the types of vehicles you want in your shop. You’re ahead of many entrepreneurs when it comes to marketing — even if you’re starting from scratch — because you know your specialty and you know the services you and your team can provide.
You’ve already identified your target audience by the types of vehicles they drive, but you probably know even more about them. Think about your current customer base and surrounding community: Do you service family cars or commercial trucks? Specialty, high-end sports cars, or standard engines?
The more you know about the type of person you want to reach, the easier it will be to succeed when you implement an auto repair marketing plan for the upcoming quarter or year. You want to use messages and images that connect with your future customers as you build your campaign.
We make it easy to find new customers and get repeat business with marketing tools and expert advice.
Five ideas for auto repair shop marketing are:
- Email marketing
- Referral program
- Search-friendly website
- Online reputation management
- Social media outreach
Scroll to the idea you want to implement first or read on to start planning a strategy to grow your business.
1. Email marketing
When it comes to bang for your buck (or ROI), few marketing initiatives beat an email marketing campaign. You can send out a monthly email to current customers to build a relationship of trust with them. Here are a few tips to follow when building an email outreach plan:
Gather email addresses
Ask for your customers’ email addresses during the point of sale or when scheduling an appointment over the phone. Add a box on your website so people can sign up themselves. Encourage your followers on social media to provide their email address.
Your email list makes or breaks your email campaign. You should focus on building your list. You can feature limited offers, such as a coupon that’s good during the customer’s birthday month or a discount on their next oil change, to get more email addresses.
When you begin crafting your email campaign, stay consistent to brand your e-newsletter. You should try to send an email at least once a month, if not more frequently. You can offer written tips for preventive service or produce how-to videos for things like changing windshield wipers or a taillight. Think about what your customers often ask and create content they’ll appreciate.
2. Referral program
Word-of-mouth advertising is what many auto repair shops are built on, but today this happens online through referrals. You want your customers to think of you when their friend or family member makes a shout-out for an honest mechanic on Facebook, for example. To do this, you’ll need to create a referral program.
Make your customers VIPs
Create a referral club for your customers. While it may work to simply have a business card-sized membership card to hand them, it’s more modern to make it digital. Ask your customers to provide their email addresses, or include a form on your website for them to sign up for the referral program. As your customers receive rewards, remind them that they have your gratitude for their repeat business.
Of course, you’d hope your customers would be happy to pass along your number, but incentives help. Think about a tiered system of benefits a customer can earn by sending business your way.
Let people know
Make sure to promote the new program, both in person and online. Send an email alert. Announce it on your social media page. Create a way to sign up for the program on your website. Post a flyer near the front desk or register at your shop, too.
3. Search-friendly website
You do have a website already, right? Some small businesses might just rely on social media or Google Maps to be their online presence, but you have greater control over your message and image with your site.
Keep it simple
If you don’t have a site yet, check out Constant Contact’s Website Builder. This is an easy-to-use tool that gets your website live in just a few hours. Be sure that your site is mobile-responsive since so many of your customers are likely looking at your site on their smartphones.
Use strong images
You’ll want to include your logo on your website along with catchy images that clearly show either an emotion or a demonstration of your values. For example, use a photo of a clean garage to show your professionalism or a picture of a happy family to show your family-friendly values.
SEO, or search engine optimization, helps connect you with people who use Google or another search engine to find mechanics in their area. This process allows your site to be ranked higher in the search results. You’ll want to include appropriate keywords for localized searches and a full explanation of your services.
4. Online reputation management
Remember that word-of-mouth advertising? Today, people are just as likely to consider a stranger’s perspective as that of their friends. That’s why online reviews are important tools for building your reputation.
Claim your business
Go to each review site to claim your business through Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, and any other site you know your customers use. Once you do this, you can respond to reviews and ask your satisfied customers to comment.
Always respond to reviews right away. For positive reviews, you can just thank them for trusting your mechanics with their vehicles. For negative reviews, acknowledge the problem and apologize without excuses. Show your professionalism by asking them to contact you directly offline.
5. Social media outreach
Most people have a Facebook account, and many others also check out Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media every day. You can get in on the conversation, too.
Focus on one platform
Many business owners shy away from social media because it can take up extra time they don’t have. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with one social media platform your customers use, and focus your time there. For example, you can create a page for your auto repair shop through Facebook business pages. Be sure to fill out all the “About Us” information fully.
Post before and after photos
Be active, especially when it comes to showing your work or the positive impact your team makes in the community. Show the fun you have at work and the jobs you’re especially proud of. Don’t forget to tag your customers — with their permission, of course — so their friends and family can see they trust you with their vehicle.
Try paid digital ads
You can create a budget for advertisements, and start with either Google or Facebook. Paid digital ads are an effective way to get attention from those who search for your services in your area.
Ready to learn more about marketing?
It’s best to sit down and plan out your marketing goals and timeline for the upcoming months so you can budget your time and resources strategically. Need more details about online marketing? Check out Constant Contact’s The Download, a free guide specifically designed for auto repair and maintenance shop owners.