In this 3rd post in our marketing blog post series we are going to discuss low cost marketing ideas. If it is going to cost $100 or less that is considered low cost, it only has to bring in 2 hours of work to pay for itself and if it brings you in 2 new customers then the return on investment is huge.
How do you know the ROI for marketing? You measure it of course. If you are using a shop management system you should be able to trace leads, and how much the customer spent.
So spend $100 and get 2 leads who spend $750 each at say 10% profit that means you spent $100 to make $150, which on its own doesn’t seem great, however think beyond the initial profit to the long term income.
You now have their details to market to again. You can get 2 new positive reviews (which as you know from my post on free marketing for your repair shop have great value), you can send them notifications of your OLF deals, you can remind them their state inspection is due, you can send them notices of just about anything because you have a relationship now.
Low Cost Marketing For Auto Repair Shops
Starting and running a car repair shop is not cheap, and it can feel like a Chicken and Egg situation where you need more car count and a higher average Repair Order to be able to afford more marketing to bring more cars in the door. We have mentioned a couple of free marketing ideas in a earlier post here are some low cost ones.
Your local school/Girl Guides/Scouts/charity fundraiser are always looking for prizes to give out. If you give them a voucher or two for free oil changes they will usually be happy to put your name or logo on their leaflets.
Make sure the voucher has your name all over it and looks professional, you can get some really nice templates online and have them printed professionally at Staples or OfficeMax for under $10. You can expand on this idea, maybe they are having a banner hung somewhere and you can get your logo on it for a small fee.
You know what a oil change costs you, and you know what % of users come in for a oil change and come back to you for bigger jobs so it is a numbers game. You know exactly what this promo is going to cost and you can easily track your ROI.
Maybe the charity you just gave a voucher to has a website, can they insert a link from their site to yours? This gets the benefit of their supporters seeing your name and you will also see a benefit in the search engines. You could ask local suppliers and local business owners to add your logo to their site.
Having your logo on local business sites helps build trust locally and keeps you at the top of people’s mind. If they require a small donation ($25 seems to be most common) to add your logo, and link back to your site, it is usually worth doing. If you do one a month, over a year you have now got 12 new links to your website and 12 places that local people can see your logo.
If you are really trying to save money you can design your own, or ask your teenager to do it for you, if you are not artistic then it really is worth asking a professional to do it for you. Maybe you already have a graphic designer as a car repair client? They may be happy to swap some design work for a oil change or two.
Make sure you have a idea of what to include before you get started designing, that will save time and frustration. Get a white pad out and start jotting down ideas, this can be as simple as words that you feel relate to your business.
Leaflets do not need to be a tri fold double sided masterpiece. You can make them so they fit 2 to a page and are one sided.
Printing one sided leaflets via online services like VistaPrint is reasonable, you can get 250 8.5×11 for under $100 (or a thousand for around $120) , cut them in half and you have 500. If you can find a local independent print shop that can produce them for you at a similar cost then do so and see if you can get a link to your website into the bargain.
Delivery can be done by companies who specialize in leaflet distribution or you can get a local teenager or two to do them for the price of a couple of pizzas. Where you deliver is as important as anything else. This comes back to your ideal customer. If you want to work on high end cars, deliver to the areas that have nicer houses and better cars. If you are doing some kind of OLF special then deliver them everywhere.
Share Me Cards
Like a business card but it has a discount value on the back, the more your client spends with you the more of a discount they get to give to a friend or relative. Everyone likes to do a good deed for someone else. If they trust you and feel they got great service at a great price they will be only too happy to pass the gift along to a friend or relative.
To multiply this, when the recipient comes in and uses the discount, the giver also gets a discount. So by giving the card to someone who will actually use it they save money as well. These cards are business card size, you fill in their account id (so you can keep track of them) and the value.
If you have done a $3k job they get a card with $100/$200 on it, if they have spent $500 they get $20 or a free Oil Lube Filter. They get to feel good about giving, they also get $10/$20 added to their account for next time, and you get a new client. So one little card can make 3 people happy.
This may take a little bit of management, working out the right numbers firstly, however the long term value will be high, and you will almost certainly be the only local shop doing this.
Having the cards designed and 100/250 printed (a good starting point) should be between $50-$100 depending on how much you pay for design work.
You probably spent thousands when you opened your shop to have signwriting done. It looks nice and clean and is always there, sitting quietly with no one taking any notice.
When you drive around town do you ever notice those big flag like things, they are a giant pole stuck in the ground and they have a bright red flag attached. Normally they say things like “Sale” or “Special Deal”, you often see them outside car dealerships.
We just moved to a new town and when we needed to take our car in for service we went to a shop a couple of streets past our offices. The only reason I knew they were there was due to the flapping flags that had caught my attention every time i was parking my car.
Depending on your location you not need to draw any more attention to your business, or you may think that is the case, have someone you trust (who doesn’t work with you) drive up to your premises. Can they see it easily, is it clear what you do, do they know how to get into your business?
While getting a signwriter out can cost hundreds the flag signage just mentioned is under $50 normally.
This ties in with the free marketing that we mentioned in part two of this series where we mentioned Facebook Marketing for repair shops – One of our local tire shops did this very well every few months. He was looking for a new logo and had people on his Facebook page vote for which one they liked best. He was buying a logo anyway so this just increased the exposure and interaction (people love to be asked their opinion) on Facebook.
Once the logo was chosen he asked what people think would be better as a marketing piece, T shirts, Baseball caps or a water bottle. Each one had the logo mocked up on it and everyone got to say which they preferred and why. More interaction with his clients and more exposure to their friends as they could all see the comments that had been left.
The baseball caps won (as expected) and he then ordered a few hats with the new logo on. This is where the competition came in, he ran a contest to give away one of each of the hat styles/colors he had made. The competition was to guess how many tires were in the stack next to him in a photo (where he was wearing one of the caps). He reminded people they could come down and look at the pile of tires and while there get a free courtesy inspection.
To spice it up he also said that if they took their photo with the pile (which had a banner above it with his name) and shared it on Facebook (making sure to tag him) they then got entered into a competition to win a T Shirt , which was normally only available to staff. People love to win “free” stuff , they also love to share selfies on Facebook and other social media (think instagram and Pinterest).
The more interaction you have with clients and potential clients on Facebook the more people will see your posts. Facebook rewards interaction.
The whole competition cost him less than $500, that included the logo (which he wanted anyway) and the printed baseball caps, it got his name shared across multiple peoples social media accounts and increased his local name recognition dramatically.
Be Consistent when Marketing
This was mentioned in a previous post, but it is so good it bears mentioning again. Be consistent with your coupons, plan to give out X a month and do that.
Plan to give out 10 gift cards during the spring and summer (as they seem to be the busier months for fundraisers. Giving out one gift card and throwing the whole idea to one side when the winner never appears doesn’t work.
Give out leaflets throughout the year, adjust them and change the offer so people don’t go ad blind, different people get their cars fixed at different times of the year so doing a leaflet drop once and then never again won’t work. Share me cards are the same, you have to explain it and give them out.
Track every customer, make sure every member of staff knows how important it is to enter the lead information into your Auto Shop Software system each and every time. If you track consistently you will see patterns emerging on which marketing brings you the customers that you want.
Post to social media every week, whether it is to share a photo of a interesting car you have had in the shop, or a team members birthday celebration or a special deal (don’t only post deals)
It takes time to produce leaflets, to speak to the fundraisers and to explain the share me cards. If you are consistent in your marketing efforts you will see results.
Auto Repair Shop Marketing SeriesPart One – Introduction to marketing for Auto Repair ShopsPart Two – No Cost marketing for Auto Repair Shops
Part Three – Low Cost marketing for Auto Repair Shops