Updated: Apr 6
Whether you’re a seasoned shop owner, just opening your automotive repair shop, or somewhere in between, you’ve likely pondered how to best market your auto shop at least once. Marketing has evolved into something entirely different than it was ten, twenty years ago. With the changes have come great opportunities for even the smallest shops to get there name out there, although it may seem confusing at first. To help you get started – or make sure your marketing efforts are on the right track – we’ve put together a list of the top 7 tips to market your auto shop. Check it out below:
7 Auto Shop Marketing Tips
1 – Update
The first step in marketing your automotive repair shop should be to update anywhere your business is listed. Imagine being a customer who has spent a fair amount of time analyzing the different auto shops that showed up in their Google search – you’ve finally decided on one and click to call or get directions, only for the site to not work because that information is old. Frustrating, right? And now that customer is much less likely to choose your shop, since today’s day and age is all about the information at our fingertips. If a consumer can’t find that information right away, then they’re much more likely to jump over somewhere else that does have that information available instead of trying to dig for the correct information.
The simple fix for this is to make sure that anywhere your information is listed has it listed correctly. Do a Google search for your own shop and spend a few minutes not only looking at the snippet that Google provides, but also the top five sites or so. These are typically directories and review services like the Yellow Pages and Yelp, so you’ll want to make sure that your information is up-to-date, especially if you’ve recently gotten a new website or changed locations.
If you don’t see your shop on some of the sites or you are brand new to the business, you can submit your information directly to the directories. Make sure to create or claim your business page on Yelp as well, since that gives you free access to update information, respond to reviews and even track views. Out of all the top steps for marketing your auto shop, this one will likely be the easiest since it entails just checking up every once in a while, but it’s easily one of the most important to ensure potential customers are seeing the right information to find your shop.
2 – Reviews
Once your shop information is set up correctly on directories, Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc., you’ll have several platforms available for customers to leave reviews. We all hear that reviews are important, but do we really realize just how important they are?
According to research gathered by Qualtrics, 97% of people read reviews for local businesses, 93% of people use mobile research before going on to purchase a product or service, and 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. That means that Debbie R. or Michael A. telling me how much they loved your auto shop is just as important as Aunt Bessie telling me her thoughts on your shop.
The same information shows that 89% of potential customers read businesses’ responses to reviews, 3.3 is the minimum star rating that consumers say they will engage with, and 68% of consumers will leave a review if asked. Whew – that’s a lot of numbers to throw at you! But they are all important and here’s why:
97% of people reading reviews for local businesses shows just how much you NEED to have your shop on at least Google, if not other platforms.
89% of people reading businesses’ replies to reviews means you need to take the time to respond to reviews you get (both good and bad, and always in a professional manner tone).
3.3 being the minimum star rating gives you a threshold – while we all want 5-star reviews, we can’t please every single person in the world and that means there is bound to be a lesser star rating at some point.
68% of people leaving reviews when asked means that getting reviews can be simple – you just need to ask your customers to leave them! Not everyone will, of course, but imagine increasing the reviews you’re getting by simply asking your customers to take the time. This could be as easy as having your service desk make sure to mention reviews as they checkout each customer or a little more in-depth like using a text message or email system to remind them to leave a review.
Overall, all of these stats lead to one thing: reviews are too important to be ignored and will help your shop marketing strategies.
3 – Referral & Loyalty Programs
Along the lines of reviews, referral and loyalty programs are next on our auto shop marketing tips list. Just like reviews, referral and loyalty programs inspire more word-of-mouth interaction, both online and in-person. These programs can be as simple or as complex as you, the shop owner, would like them to be. They can vary all the way from someone receiving a certain discount amount for each person who mentions their referral to a detailed program that gives certain discounts, swag items, etc. for differing levels of loyalty.
You don’t have to have both programs – I’d recommend starting with a referral program and creating a loyalty program once you’re confident in your ability to keep up with the details – and they don’t have to cost you a ton in discounts or time, either. People really just love the act of being rewarded, so if you’re not sure about discounting so much, consider writing a personal thank you card with a little treat or gifting a shirt with your logo. As your customer base grows, awarding a certain percentage or amount off may be easier, but tailor the program to work with your shop. You won’t get any good word-of-mouth from the program if you aren’t able to be consistent in your delivery!
4 – Sponsor
If you’ve been wanting to help give back to your local community, sponsoring a school or sports event is the perfect thing to add to your shop marketing strategy. While many of these programs will often reach out to shops in their area, you can be proactive and reach out first when you see an event that you’re interested in. Because, when you help support things like your local school’s summer basketball camp, it’s likely many of the parents will remember when their vehicle is in need of service. Make sure this isn’t just about getting your name out there, though! Sponsoring local events should help you show your customers what your staff cares about and the things that are important to you.
5 – Educate
Another key to marketing your auto shop involves educating your audience. You need to show people why they should choose your shop and one great way to do that is by educating them before they even visit for a service or repair. That means creating quality content with the sole purpose to educate. How you choose to do this will depend on how you're marketing in other areas. Do you have a Facebook or YouTube page (you should have at least one, and we’ll detail that in the next marketing tip) that you could share videos on? Or, would creating a series of blog posts to share on your website work better? Maybe even offering quarterly free trainings in your shop for the local community on small things like changing tires could work.
No matter which content you choose to create and share, just make sure that education is at the heart of it. It’s a great idea to throw in a relevant offer or two, but don’t make it all about that. Otherwise your audience will sense that it’s simply a marketing ploy and abandon the piece, instead of sharing it with their friends and social groups like they would if it were a sincere effort to help solve a problem or give more information to an automotive question.
6 – Social media
When you’ve been doing all these great things with your shop – providing top notch customer service, sponsoring the community, and educating them on automotive – you need to make sure you’re sharing that with your audience. Social media is one of the best ways and has become one of the largest tools for marketing automotive repair shops. While there are still plenty of customer bases that prefer to visit shops for themselves and hear about the service from their friends, there’s an entire generation of consumers who are much more likely to find your shop online and check all reviews and social media outlets before visiting your website or calling to make an appointment.
If you’ve been researching automotive shops in your area to get an idea of the competition, you’ve likely realized that they either have no social media presence or a very staggered presence on every single platform available. While having accounts on all the platforms is helpful, it can hurt your brand if you’re not able to be consistently active on all of them. Which is why I recommend picking one or two (Facebook or Instagram are the most popular) and making sure your posts are consistent before expanding to other outlets. Social media is perfect for not only sharing your offers and reviews, but also sharing spotlights on your teams and general updates. Shops who are willing to share that “human” glimpse will likely see more interaction on their pages, as well as a higher return in the shop.
7 – Emails
Another great way to share about all the things your shop has been doing is through an email newsletter. This one will likely take the most work out of our list of tips to market your auto shop but could also have the greatest return in the long run. You’ll need to have a company to create and send your email campaigns through (Zoho, Mailchimp, GetResponse, AWeber, Drip, Constant Contact, etc.). While that may seem scary at first, many of these email marketing services offer a wide range of prices based off your subscribers – some even offer free services until you get to a certain number of subscribers. Just make sure to do your research and pick the one that works best with the number of customers you have and the emails you want to send.
Once you have a company chosen, you can begin to create your email newsletter. Will you send it once a month? Twice a month? Maybe even every other month? I’d recommend sending it at least once a month, as that will help you be consistent with your customers without putting a ton of strain on creating content. Once scheduled, start gathering the content you could use. If your shop has a blog, this is the perfect place to highlight the articles along with links to your social media and any upcoming events your shop will be a part of. Make sure you have at least one offer in the email, as well as a call-to-action (CTA) at the end. Building your email list may take same time (always ask customers if they’d like to join, have a spot to sign up for discounts on your site, etc.) but it will be worth it.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing your auto shop and hopefully, they’ll help you with promoting your shop locally and online. We could definitely write an entire article on each of the seven tips above but wanted to provide a basic overview for shop owners looking for more than just a single idea to market their shop. We’ll be expanding on these ideas in the coming months, both through our blog and upcoming newsletter.
Have you used one of these methods before? Or is there something just as important that you think we missed? Make sure to let us know in the comments below.