If you have been wondering if social media could help your auto repair shop marketing check out Yamato Auto Repair's Yelp profile. If you have any doubts that social networking and customer driven advertising can attract new auto repair customers just check out the 49+ glowing, thumbs up reviews these guys have. Why wouldn't anyone want to do business with them. One of the strongest examples of referral marketing I've seen. And best of all, it's free!
What People Are Saying
Here are some snippets from the comments made on Yamato's Yelp profile:
- 'Great service!'; 'reward loyal customers'
- 'good rates... really, really reasonable price'
- 'Honest'; 'personable'; 'top notch'; 'wonderful'
- 'great communications'
- 'feel secure that your not getting ripped off'
Of Yamato's 49 total Yelp reviews (as of September 22nd, 2009), none were below a 4-star rating, forty had 5-star ratings, and nine had a 4-star rating. And all looked sincere and legitimate. I suggest shop owners spend some time viewing random auto repair shop profiles. You will gain some powerful insight into what auto repair customers like and what they are commonly unhappy about.
Free, Powerful, & Haunting
Using social media networking for your auto service shop marketing has got to be one of the easiest and most powerful advertising methods going. By investing an hour to create a business profile you can harness the amazing power of social voice. Just make sure people have got something positive to say about you... skeletons in your closet will be dancing in the streets if not.
Photo by HikingArtist
Out Of Control
Social media networking is something you can not control. It is totally public and driven by consumers. Finally shoppers are feeling empowered with control over the marketing messages they receive. Now, rather than just being able to respond to marketing messages, consumers can CREATE the marketing message!
Lipstick on a Pig
Putting lipstick on a pig will not hide that it is a pig. Shops that haven't got their house in order are going to quickly find themselves shunned by consumers. No matter what YOU say or do the CONSUMER'S will be the one who decides which business provides the best service. And their social voice will quickly 'out' any shop that is not playing fair and square.
This loss of marketing control scares many businesses. There is no way to control what or where anything is said with social networking. Often even the comment author can not edit what has been posted. (See my post Social Networking Is Forever for a humorous view of the consequences of not recognizing the power of unhappy customers.) These new networks have the clout to crush a business by destroying their reputation. All you as a business owner can do is respond to what is said. Your going to have to show (prove) you stand behind your workmanship, that you value your customers, and that you deserve consumer support – and all in the public social arena. I call social networking an online auto repair screw-up ferret.
False Sense Of Control
Some social media websites allow business owners to “claim” their profiles and mediate and edit what is said about them. Although the business owner gains a degree of control, it is such a microscopic portion of all the social networking on the Web it is not worth the effort or cost involved. Also, consumers are getting good at spotting a 'filtered' testimonial page. They are jaded and suspicious of any information that can be 'influenced' by the associated business.
Businesses owners can't control what is written about them but they can directly 'influence' where social reviews are posted. Concentrating auto repair shop reviews on one website has many benefits.
Rather than waiting for reviews to pop up anywhere business owners should 'encourage' their customers to use a specific social media website. The greater the number of reviews a website collects the higher the profile is positioned in search engine results.
When a prospect does a search for a business name the profile with the greatest number of reviews should appear at the top of the results due to greater popularity. The greater the number of reviews the more credibility the profile presents. Also, less than flattering comments, yes you will get some, will be out-weighted by a greater number of positive reviews.
It is almost impossible to monitor every social media website. The best tactic would be to focus on one or two websites that your customers frequent. This will make your job of monitoring and responding much easier.
Is Yelp The Best?
Photo by Respres
Is Yelp the only game in town? Not by a long shot. But it is one of the biggest and is gaining lots of traction with a huge local focus ability. In contrast, some very effective auto service marketing can be found on small community websites. Like any advertising the key to effective social media marketing is to find out where your target market is hanging out online.
Where Are they
How do you find out where are your target market is going online? Ask your customers! Is it Yelp, Google, Angie's List, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, or a multitude of others. Once you know where, go there, create a profile, and see what they are saying about you.
New World of Marketing
Yamato has been doing business for 60+ years in the San Francisco area. They are a long established business that is adapting to the new marketing landscape. And if the praise lavished on them is any example Yamato should thrive well into the future.
What could Yamato do better? Maybe a well constructed and informative website would help close the deal for new prospects. Many will be impressed by Yamato's great reviews but still need just a bit more convincing to get them to buy. In today's new world of marketing it's all about making connections and maintaining customer relationships.
PS. I have no connection to Yelp. No commissions, affiliate deals, etcetera. I just feel Yelp is a great marketing tool for auto repair shops!