There are approximately 272.48 million vehicles in the United States, yet the average shop sees only 22 a week. With so few vehicles making it in for repairs and maintenance, it’s little wonder that auto shops need some form of marketing to help them bring in more customers. Not to mention, automotive repair is highly competitive – there are plenty of shops that would be happy to take over your client base! It’s necessary for auto shops to work at both customer retention and growth to stay competitive.
Here are some tips and marketing tactics that will keep your current customers coming back and help expand your clientele.
1. Email Marketing and Offers
Email is an effective way to stay in front of your customers. Since many people now check their email on their phones, you can reach your customers wherever they are, rather than targeting different channels. Sending out a newsletter or email blast with a special, limited-time offer is a great way to drive customers into your shop.
Most people want useful or entertaining information, so make sure your email marketing has a little of both to capture and keep attention. You may need to experiment with email frequency, or even survey your customers when they sign up for the newsletter. Customers won’t appreciate emails that are too frequent, but you’ll also want to have a consistent schedule. Once a month is appropriate for many shops. With regular emails, your shop will be at the forefront of their mind when they need repairs or maintenance.
2. Posting on Facebook
Creating a social media presence is another way to make sure you stay in touch with your customers. Out of the three major social media platforms, Facebook is the best one to focus your social media efforts. Consistent posting on Facebook allows you to interact with your customers, share information about your shop, and provide your customers with valuable information. You can post automotive tips, coupons, special offers, links to your blog, customer testimonials, customer shoutouts, or even recall information from auto manufacturers. Don’t be afraid to throw in some entertaining or fun posts that give your customers a glimpse into your personality. Encourage your audience to like, comment, and share your posts.
Since Facebook is a social platform, be prepared to interact with customers. You may want to assign someone to answer questions so they can be handled promptly. Good customer service is just as important on social media as it is in person. Your quick and helpful response may be enough to coax that inquiring customer to come into the shop.
3. Customer Referrals
Another effective way to get customers to come into the shop is to let your customers do the marketing for you. Create a referral program that encourages your customers to tell friends and family about you. Reward customers who refer others with a free oil change or a discounted service. Make the offer something they won’t be able to get anywhere else. Exclusive rewards are a huge incentive!
4. Customer Loyalty Programs
Everyone likes free stuff! A customer loyalty program is a great way to say thank you to your existing customers and ensure they keep coming back. Your program can be a simple stamp or punch card, or higher-tech, like a card that keeps track of how much money they spend. Once they’ve spent a certain amount, reward them with a free product or service. Physical cards can get lost, so you can also use digital loyalty card programs, which are convenient for you and your customers.
5. Automotive Advice Blog
If you have a website (and you should) one way to drive customers to it is to have an informative automotive blog that gives tips, advice or other useful information that your customers want to read. If the content on the blog provides value, customers will continue to visit your site. They may see specials you’ve posted on the homepage, or even decide to subscribe to your newsletter.
6. Service Reminders
Windshield stickers are a great way to remind customers to come back for their next recommended service date, but you can also double down with digital reminders, like email, text, or even Facebook direct messaging. These digital reminders can include a coupon for the service or even a quick way to schedule or confirm their appointment without needing to call your shop.
7. Review Reminders
Reviews are critical for local businesses in every industry, and auto repair shops are no exception. Good reviews act like referrals and can bring in new customers who may not have considered your shop. Even though approximately 85% of people make purchase decisions based on reviews, customers often don’t think to leave reviews themselves unless they had an extremely good – or bad – experience. Asking for reviews, as awkward as it can feel, is a great way to get your average customer to write one.
Most people are willing to give a review if you ask, but they may forget once they leave the shop. To remind them, you can print up business cards that list your preferred sites for online reviews or include that information on their invoice. You can also have comment cards available that ask for permission to use their comments as testimonials. For your online channels or email marketing, create calls to action that direct the customer to leave a review with a simple link or button click.
If you don’t currently do any marketing for your auto shop, it can be overwhelming to even know where to start. Choose one of the methods that would be easiest for your shop to implement and gradually build your marketing efforts to include additional types of marketing. Over time, you’ll discover what works for your business and client base. Marketing isn’t one-size-fit-all. What works for one shop may not work for another. For more effective ideas on how to grow your clientele, check out our blogs on Traditional Advertising and Guerrilla Marketing.