Your online social reputation is quickly becoming the life blood of a strong marketing plan. Consumers are dumping their heavy telephone yellow Pages directories and turning to the Internet – 21 million visited Yelp.com in May 2009 alone! Every auto repair shop should be working hard at building social proof of their competence and trustworthiness.
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Repair Shop Marketing
Articles and writing about auto repair shop marketing.
The new social media websites seem to be a perfect way to connect with new customers but will social media such as Yelp, MerchantCircle, Twitter, or Facebook work for auto repair shops?
Marketing is all about connecting with people. For advertising to be effective you need the person's attention and interest. Social networking can be a fabulous marketing tool if your target market participates and you provide a common 'local' interest to bring them together.
Asking for referrals is a great way to find new customers. But being more referable will work even better according to John Jantsch in his article 7 Signs Your Marketing May Need to Evolve. Once you've got people talking about you stop paying for expensive, ineffective advertising and rely on referrals only marketing!
What would happen if your business only accepted new customers referred by your current customers? No more advertising. No more discounting. Referrals only. Would your business grow, just survive, or quickly die? If the thought of depending on referrals alone frightens you your problem is not auto repair shop marketing – it's service quality.
Social media has given your customers a loudspeaker and you need to monitor what they are saying about you. The Internet provides consumers with limitless vocal power – both positive and negative. Size doesn't matter in this game. Big or small any company can have their reputation damaged by rumors, service complaints, and even malicious competitors. You need to be proactive about building a solid online reputation that can withstand the inevitable service failure complaints of everyday business operations.
Local search business listings in Google, Yahoo, Bing search engines are vital to auto repair service shops. The more information about your company out there, the greater chance people are going to find you. It only takes a few minutes to create a listing and where else can you get great free advertising like this!
When auto repair shop repairs fail customers react in three basic ways. In all cases there is a very high likelihood you will lose the customer. With proactive follow up communications dissatisfied customers can be uncovered, problems fixed, prevent future service failures, and if you recover well, you can prevent losing the customer.
Customers are more willing to forgive service problems if they are recommended to your auto repair shop by a friend. Are you actively asking your customers for recommendations? Robert Maxim has a number of tools to encourage personal recommendations and help build a loyal following of great customers.
Should you charge environmental fees?
It's all in the presentation
Auto repair shops spend big bucks to dispose of waste generated from repairing vehicles and it is only fair business practise to pass this expense on to the customer. However shops need to be careful how the expense is presented to their customers. Using a separate environmental fee on invoices can have a serious negative impact on the shop's reputation. Instead of highlighting your shops concern for the environment, itemized fees may make your customers feel like they're being gouged.
Power Of The Collective Voice
On-line Social Networking is a recent phenomenon that has exploded in popularity. One outcome of this new virtual community is a collection of shared consumer experiences. Participants are using these collective reviews of products and services to make informed buying decisions. Auto repair shop owners should be participating in these online communities to promote their businesses.