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!
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Auto Repair Marketing Blog
Articles on auto repair website design, auto repair advertising, auto repair management, auto repair marketing, auto repair website SEO, repair shop advertising, repair shop management, repair shop marketing, repair shop websites, social media marketing, social networking, auto repair SEO, auto shop management and general topics of interest to automotive repair shop managers and owners.
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.
Unhappy customers destroy loyalty and repeat business. Most dissatisfied customers are vocal but silent, unhappy customers are missed opportunities to win the customer back and protect your reputation. When auto repair shop service failures happen, and they will, how you recover makes the difference between being “the best” shop or a “don't go there” shop.
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.
Be careful that uniqueness and service specialization doesn't put you out of business. If you become so specialized or unique there may not be enough customers to support your business. This may seem obvious but many operators seem to be unaware of the basics of marketing and business management.
Give them what they want
Are you worried by all the competition in the auto repair and service market? Are you losing customers to big chain and specialty shops? What is it that people are attracted to? The answer is uniqueness. Consumers are willing to pay more for what they can't get elsewhere. Are you providing what your customers want?
Are you a low price leader?
Leaders and losers
To thrive in a price driven market you need to to be a low price LEADER. Some auto repair shops know they're leaders. Some think they're leaders. Many don't know they're losers. Consumers know the difference and quickly find the leader. What are you?
A different way of thinking about advertising
Traditional auto repair shop advertising has got it all backwards. Typically you spend huge amounts of largely wasted money attempting spreading your message to everyone. If your lucky you attract a few prospects who are reluctantly interested in what you are offering. The problem is that almost everyone has become numb to the daily bombardment of hit-or-miss advertising. We just plain ignore it. Maybe what you need to do is forget trying to communicate to EVERYONE and make it easier for the TRULY INTERESTED prospects to find YOU.
Flash or cash?
A pretty website sure looks good but research tells us that a fancy website doesn't attract users or cash flow. If fact it can drive users away and leave you with an unproductive, expensive monument. Content and how your website is constructed is what your customers want and your bank account needs!
Advertise or Die
Often when business slows down the first expense to be cut is advertising. Bad idea. There is an old saying in the auto service business that you must advertise or you die! But advertising doesn't mean you have to spend bags of money. There are many methods of auto repair advertising and not all cost big bucks. What you need to do is find something you can afford. And keep doing it!