Auto Repair Shop Advertising ideas do not need to be complicated or expensive to implement. But consistent implementation is the key
A much-heard saying is “50% of my advertising budget is wasted. I just don’t know which 50%!”
You are not alone if you feel like advertising is just another way to waste hard-earned money, in the hope it will bring in new business, or get current customers to return for regular maintenance. Chances are, you didn’t start out in advertising, then switched to vehicle repair.
Here’s what you’re facing: nearly ¼million other auto repair shops in the USA alone. The chances are your shop is one of 20 in a 5-mile radius so what can you do to make it stand out?
This article covers
- 8 Marketing Ideas for Auto Repair Shops
- Guerrilla marketing for auto repair shops
- Traditional repair shop marketing
- Final word
There are steps you can take to maximize your exposure and get your message out to new prospects, but you must do those steps correctly and consistently –
- Google reviews – The first place 80% of people go is Google, and the chances are they are using their smartphone to do it. People trust google reviews more than they trust their own judgment so make sure your garage comes up with lots of 5 star reviews. Ask every happy customer for a review, if you are using Profitboost then you can send them a txt message asking them to leave you a positive review as they leave the shop.
- Get and maintain a mobile-friendly website – If someone goes from your Google reviews to your website they need to be able to read your site on their phone.
- Start and maintain a blog for car owners that gives advice, recommendations, best practices, and maybe a plug for your own services, while you’re at it. Begin building a relationship in your market. If necessary, hire a writer to do the work, if you’re grammatically challenged. You don’t need to post daily, just add something once or twice a month. The blog posts join with our next advertising idea
- Do the Social Media thing. Yes, you need to have a Facebook Page, so you can interact with your market. Sounds difficult, if you’ve never done it, but it’s really not the chore it might seem. If you have a teenager in the family ask them to help you or find someone local to do it for you. When you write some tips out for your blog, post them to your Facebook page. You do not need to be on every social media platform, Facebook is the big one and you should be there.
- Coupon advertising. Price out how much it might cost you for 1,000 impressions on the back of your local supermarket’s register receipts. You can also do flyers, mailers, or handouts in the local newspaper, or the local coupon book. People love to feel they are getting a deal so coupons are still a relevant marketing medium. Add printable coupons to your website and to your Facebook page.
- Build customer referrals. Word of mouth is still a strong way to get new customers. Offer your loyal customers a gift of some kind for each and every new customer they send you. This can be in the form of a discounted oil change or a gift card for a local restaurant. Ask the restaurant if you can have an add in the menus, or somewhere else in the establishment if you use them.
- Take advantage of service reminders. Yeah, those little stickers you put on their windshields are a good start. Profitboost has a versatile reminder sticker system built in to the program. Now, join the 21st Century and try email and text reminders. This can all be managed with our Kukui marketing integration.
- Your logo: if you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you don’t have a logo yet, you need one, they don’t have to be expensive. https://www.logonerds.com/ are a company that have packages starting under $50. Having a recognizable brand can make all the difference between just-another-repair-shop, and really building awareness of your business when the time comes for repairs. Little items like refrigerator magnets, pens, and other ad specialty items have proven their worth over the years. Shop around online for them and you will find them to be very affordable.
Guerrilla Marketing for Auto Repair Shops
The first question you are asking is, what is guerrilla marketing?
innovative, unconventional, and low-cost marketing techniques aimed at obtaining maximum exposure for a product.
The 8 auto repair shop advertising ideas we have shared above are all pretty main stream and should all be part of your core shop marketing plan. If you don’t have a repair shop marketing plan and budget yet, get working on that now. With a little twist or expansion on some of them you can make your marketing a little different from every other car repair shop in town.
Bumper stickers – Assuming your logo has your name and what you do on it, you have a easy way to build brand awareness. Get some small bumper stickers created with your logo on and give them out to anyone who will put one on their car. The wording is important, having your phone number on there is not. You need to build brand awareness, no one remembers a phone number that is on a sticker but they may remember the logo and the company name.
Window Clings – Not everyone wants to put a sticker on their paint job, so offer a window cling for their rear window instead.
Treasure Hunt – Give clues out on your Facebook page, on your website, in your shop and at your favorite local charity shop. Maybe even tie it in with a local event, a baseball game for instance, so the team get the benefit of more visitors. Everyone who gets all the clues or stamps on a card and brings them to the shop gets entered into a draw for $500/$1000 of credit at your shop.
Invite the local radio for the day of the draw, you may even get the local TV along if you make the day special enough.
This project may sound expensive (how small an ad would $1k get you in the yellow pages?) or time consuming, but the ROI can be enormous if you do the work to build some buzz. The planning and work will be spread over a couple of months, but having people visit your social media, your website and your shop and seeing you help local business will build your brand awareness.
Having them visit a charity shop is good for the shop and good for your reputation as a giving business owner. Make sure that you take lots of photos of the whole process and share them on social media, especially the winner. Tag the winner on Facebook so all their friends and family see their photo and of course see your shop name and your smiling face with them.
Make the treasure hunt an annual thing and build ongoing buzz. The second year you can start building buzz earlier and maybe bring in some other local business owners to work with. Out of all the Auto Repair Shop Advertising Ideas shared here today this is the most work, but could easily be the most fun and build the most buzz.
Smaller stickers – Put your company sticker on laptop cases that you carry and anything else that people may see
Where to get stickers of all types and sizes – Sign up at https://www.stickermule.com/ and look out for their special offers
Community Day – speak to the local fire and police department, will they work with you to have a day where you check car seats for free, maybe have some exotic cars on location for the day and everyone knows kids love a police car or a fire engine. The benefit of this to you is that every car seat that is checked has a mum or dad who drive a car will see just how nice you and all your staff are. It is about raising brand awareness.
Think Different – What can you do that no one else has, what can you do to put your brand in front of every local car driver as often as you can each day? Having your company name on the side of your car is so common now that people ignore it. Unless the car is something special, what can you do to make your company vehicles eye catching?
Ask for Suggestion- Repair shop owners are generally not graduating with marketing degrees, we have shared some great ideas here for both traditional and guerilla marketing of your repair shop but no one knows everything, so ask. Ask your team for ideas, ask some of the customers who run successful local business’s. You do not have to act on every idea that you get but there is no harm in asking.
Traditional Repair Shop Advertising
When it comes to traditional auto repair shop advertising ideas (print, radio, TV), there’s a little acronym you need to understand: ROAS. That stands for Return On Ad Spend, and it will help you cut out the losing 50% of your ad budget. Simply put, if an ad doesn’t bring in at least the amount of revenue to cover its cost, stop doing it. You see this all the time on TV, for ads promoting the latest gadget or tool. The ones that you keep seeing are making money. The ones that appear, run a few times, then disappear, failed to meet ROAS goals.
- Don’t run TV and radio at the same time, so people don’t get confused where they heard about you.
- Ask every customer how they heard about you
- Record the referral source – EVERY TIME
- Collect a baseline so you can see what happens when you stop running radio ads for a week or two.
If you use Profitboost as your auto repair shop management system you can set warnings so any repair order that doesn’t have a referral source picked will not be allowed to finalize. You can not manage what you don’t measure and you do not want to spend thousands on any ads that do not bring a return on the investment.
The days of spending thousands a year (or even a month) on Yellow pages ads are gone, people just don’t have landlines like they used to, so they don’t have the phone book stacked next to the phone. You should still be in the yellow pages, but not having a paid for advert isn’t likely to hurt you. If you are not convinced, take an advert out for a year, use a phone number unique to that advert, Google voice will give you a phone number for a couple of dollars a month, trace how many calls you get and how much revenue they turn into.
Daily newspapers are dropping like flies, the days of every house in the neighborhood getting a daily newspaper are long gone. See if you can get a job as a weekly auto maintenance columnist, share tips on car maintenance and safety tips. This would give the paper an expert in the field, give your shop some advertising and give you some gravitas as a local author. Having a leaflet put inside the daily paper will probably give you a greater ROAS than putting an actual ad in the paper.
Keep it local, it is common for one company to own many local stations. They may offer you a deal that includes radio stations all over the area, but the reality is that people are not going to travel from 50 miles away to come get their car repaired (unless you really do offer something out of the ordinary). Your customers are local and your radio adverts should be targeted at them.
Which station should I run ads on? Use some common sense and ask your ideal customers what they listen to in the car. If you want the middle aged, family man whose wife drives the kids around in her SUV as your customer then you probably don’t want to run ads on the local rap station.
As with every type of ad, track the ROAS , one shop told us they could do three weeks of ads, take one week off and see no drop off but if they did three and then two weeks with no ads they would see a drop off in visits.
Don’t be scared to use your own voice and don’t be scared to do special ads for special occasions. A personalized Christmas message will catch peoples attention.
People are cutting the cable more and more, they just watch the shows they want on one of the streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. However, they are watching videos on YouTube and Facebook more and more.
Traditional TV advertising is not cheap and with so many channels available how can you be sure you are even showing your ads to the right audience? You can’t be sure, is the honest answer.
You can try and buy space around local only shows but even then, the cost will probably outweigh the number of eyeballs that see it. The TV channel will help you make the advert, or call the local college and see if they are running any courses for media training and maybe they their own camera and studio set up that you can use cheaply.
YouTube is the new TV
Instead of doing adverts on TV, run ads on YouTube (and Facebook). If it sounds interesting but daunting at the same time well we will be publishing a post all about advertising on Youtube for auto repair shops soon so keep a look out for that.
Use what is available to you. When you use Profitboost shop management software you have access to the best Customer Relations Management software through our connection with Kukui.
The integration we have with Kukui means that they can pull your customer data and market to customers who declined certain services. They can send out annual service reminders and reminders for state inspection services.
Kukui will also help manage your Google Adwords spend to maximize your return on spend and bring in new customers.
Auto repair shop advertising ideas are easy to come up with, the real work is following through and making sure the ads are produced, the videos are made and the phone calls are answered.