Auto Repair Shop Marketing
In this first part of a 4 part blog post series, we are going to start looking at marketing your auto repair shop. Before we discuss the free and low-cost marketing ideas we are going to talk about your ideal customer and your business.
I understand that many of our readers are happiest with a wrench in their hand, but if you want to build a successful repair business you need to market it. If you are thinking that you will just pay someone else to do the marketing for you, well you should still understand something about who you are marketing to and how you are going to do it.
Build It and They Will Come
That is the attitude that far too many car repair shop owners have, and it is why so many shops go out of business or struggle. Auto Repair Shop Marketing is an important part of your business, and like every part, it deserves your serious attention. Before you start putting together a marketing plan for an auto repair shop you need to do some research and collect all your options and then consider how much money you have to budget on marketing and how much business you can handle.
It may seem counterintuitive but bringing in too much business when you are not ready for it can be as bad for your business as not having enough customers. If you bring in so many cars that you can not fix them in a timely fashion you will get a bad reputation and that will kill your future business.
Questions to Ask BEFORE Starting Marketing
- Who is my ideal client?
- How Much Business Can I Honestly Handle?
- Do I want Commercial/Fleet Customers or Personal Only?
- Do I specialize or do all repairs for all vehicles?
- Are my systems ready for a sudden influx of new customers?
- Are my current and past customers happy and would they recommend my services?
Who is my ideal client?
Before you even started your business you should have done some research into your potential clients. How many people live and work within a 5-mile circle? What socio-economic group are they in? Do they own their own homes? How many cars do they have, what types of cars are they? What is the most popular radio station and newspaper?
Once you know this data you can tailor your marketing towards it. If the area has lots of renters who traditionally only stay in the area a year or two you may want to market LOF deals to them. If the area has a high percentage of homeowners with newer cars, make sure to mention your high level of training and how your labor rate compares to the local dealerships.
How Much Business Can I Honestly Handle?
If you are already running at full capacity then you need to either improve your efficiency or increase your capacity. It means you probably do not need to do any heavy marketing push
Do I want Commercial/Fleet Customers or Personal Only?
Commercial and fleet clients are great, they bring in a lot of work and will do so consistently. However, they usually take 30-60 days to pay and will often want a discount from your normal rates.
Do I specialize or do all repairs for all vehicles?
If your experience as a technician has always been with Japanese imports then you probably want to open a shop specializing in Japanese Imports, if you are a Transmission expert then it is natural to concentrate on that business. The type of shop you have will affect your marketing. If you do nothing but repair transmissions then you may be best served by building relationships with every repair shop in town and have them send you all their Transmission repair work.
Are my systems ready for a sudden influx of new customers?
Can your shop deal with an extra 10/20 cars a week? Be brutally honest with yourself, there is no good lying to yourself, if you brought in a extra 10 cars could your team keep up? Auto shop Software can help you improve your systems and increase your ability to service more cars.
Are my current and past customers happy and would they recommend my services?
If you are sending people home in their car and they are not happy with the work you did, well you need to fix that first before you start bringing in new customers.
Marketing a business that is not ready for new clients is a recipe for disaster. If you are ready for more business here are a few ideas on how to get it.
Knowing who you want as a customer is the first step to efficient and profitable marketing. Anyone who says “I want everyone” has clearly never dealt with people who drive a beater and argue about every estimate and then look for any way they can to get out of paying or have the bill reduced. There are shops that market and work with that type of clientele very efficiently and profitably but they are few and far between.
Once you know who you are looking for the job is how to reach out to them. We will cover various ways of doing that in the upcoming blog posts
Part Two of the Auto Repair Shop Marketing series will introduce you to some Free Marketing ideas
Part Three is Low-Cost Marketing ideas (sub $100)
Part Four is Continuous marketing for your auto repair shop