The auto repair industry as a whole is fighting a generally accepted bad reputation. Building trust with new customers is tough when the public's poor perception is supported by independent studies. The following three part approach can be very effective in developing your reputation and attracting long term customers: awareness, referrals, and an impeccable track record.
Distance Yourself From Bad Apples
Photo by Alison E. Dunn
Even though only a few bad shops tarnish the reputation of the industry as a whole, you can create your own great reputation in your local market. It will take some effort but the rewards are lasting and can help generate long term, repeat business.
Advertising works. But implementation is the difficult part in getting your money's worth. Media choice, consistency, and frequency are the keys.
Media needs to be selected for your individual market. The market area of independent shops is very small and there is no value in advertising that spills outside these boundaries.
Design and format must be consistent. Branding and communicating a distinctive identity works for even the small guy. Every thing connected to your business must have a common theme that is immediately identified with you.
Frequency counts. Yellow page ads, print ads in local papers, community guides, and event guides all need to be combined with web advertising. You can’t afford the amount of print ad space to communicate who and what you are. A Website works as a second level in the development of what and WHO you are.
A recommendation from a satisfied customer is golden. You just can’t get ANY advertising that is as effective as this. Encourage it and, yes, ask for it!
Business cards with your website address are a great stepping stone. Point out your website to everyone. Then make it easy for your customers to promote you by having a Recommend Us feature on your website. Even with a personal recommendation people can still be cautious about doing business with you. An effective website will allow them to get feel for who you are and what they can expect.
Develop a flawless track record. This is directly connected to your success with referrals. No one is perfect, but you need to demonstrate your commitment to doing what is right. Show people that you are trust worthy. With the advent of social networking your soul is open to the world and the only power you have is in how you react.
There is an old saying; "Quality is not expensive, it's priceless." Although it is a little tired, the message is so important when raising yourself above the generally accepted bad industry reputation. It's more important to emphasize your professionalism, technical expertise, and support over the long term than price. Independent references are one of the best methods to boost your credibility. Studies have shown that people will trust even strangers if they are seen as independent from the business and unbiased in their opinion.