Marketing your auto shop in 2020 was hard.
But marketing your auto shop in 2020 will be even harder.
To succeed in today’s age of overwhelming competition, you need three things: fantastic fulfillment, great customer service, and rock-solid marketing. I’m here today to talk about the last one.
Keep in mind: if you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, the highest-yield auto shop marketing tactics usually involve increasing the frequency of customer returns to your shop instead of focusing on getting more customers.
Confused? I’ll explain below.
Without further ado, here are five completely free ways to help your auto shop make bank in 2020.
YouTube is literally the second biggest search engine on the planet after Google. Videos on YouTube also show up on Google’s search results, and they’re usually prioritized #1 compared to the rest of the feed.
A nifty strategy to quickly rank first for a keyword like “auto shop [city]” is to film a bunch of short instructional videos — how to change a tire, engine repair, etc — and then include as many variants of the keyword as possible in the title, meta tags, and descriptions (YouTube will walk you through this when you make a video).
For example, say you’re an auto repair shop in Vancouver, BC. Film a video showing your customers how to change their tires, and call it “How To Change Tires Quickly And Easily — Vancouver Auto Repair Shop Guide”. Then include several variations of “auto shop Vancouver” in the description. Don’t be spammy, though — Google is getting very adept at picking up keyword stuffing in 2020.
In sales, the vast majority of deals are closed during the follow-up.
In auto body or auto repair, the vast majority of your money comes from a customer after he’s left your shop for the first time.
Think of it like this: every time a customer walks in, you need to pay a certain amount of money to acquire that customer. In marketing, we call this the cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
So if you’re looking to save money on marketing, your goal, counterintuitively, is not to get a lot of people in your shop. Instead, you should focus on developing strong relationships with a few special clients to get them to come back every three months for the rest of their lives. That’s how you turn a single customer into thirty repeated visits — you focus on the follow-up.
You can keep this as simple or as complicated as you’d like. If you want simple, set an auto-reminder email for service every 3 months after the first time you acquire a customer. If you want complicated, plug in the make and model of their vehicle into a spreadsheet, find the average times between oil changes, tire changes, mechanical repairs (etc), and sequence your emails accordingly. A good tool for this is something like ActiveCampaign.
Google My Business is literally free advertising. Every time I find an auto shop online that hasn’t claimed their profile, my heart breaks just a little more.
To claim, go to business.google.com/add and type in the name of your auto shop. Google will verify your request either through phone, SMS, or a postcard sent to your mailing address.
For maximum search engine visibility, include as many variants of the keyword “auto shop [city]” as possible in your title, description, and posts.
I recommend using a post scheduling tool like OneUp to schedule 10–15 posts, and then sequence them to release once every two or three days. You can recycle them at the end of the month. Google rewards people that use their services, so you’ll see a steady climb in search engine position over time.
Using the same logic as in sending customers habitual reminder e-mails, you should ask every single customer for both a review on Google, Facebook, & Yelp, and a referral.
Most shop owners shy away from this because they don’t want to seem pushy. Newsflash: you don’t have to seem pushy if you don’t want to — it’s all in how you ask.
What works well for my clients is, at the end of your service, explain the fixes you provided and the cost. Banter. And before you finish, ask them “[Name], would you say you liked my services today?”. When they inevitably say “yes”, reply “my business runs because cause of customers like you. If you have time today, I want to ask you for a favor: could you leave me a review on Google telling me what you liked about my service?”
You won’t get everyone, but that’s fine. Average client success rates are about 1/3 the first time around — every 100 customers will get you 30 reviews. And if you’ve got 30 reviews, you’re likely doing better than 90% of your competition.
The last and best way to squeeze as much value out of each customer that comes into your store is by remaining top of mind by offering monthly sales and deals. Your goal here isn’t to “close” your customer on the idea of your service through an email — it’s so that, if their car happens to break down three days after they get your email, their first thought is you and not a competing shop.
Include real, honest value in your newsletters. It doesn’t have to be long — three or so paragraphs is fine. Offer a deal at the end of each email incentivizing one of your services; make January “Oil Change January”, for example, and offer 20% off all oil changes. Little things like this go a long way to increasing customer retention.
That’s all for today, folks. For context, I run a marketing agency in Vancouver that helps local auto shop clients market their business. If you have any questions, don’t be shy! Ask away and I’ll happily get back to you as soon as I can. And if you found value in this post, clap so other people can read it too!