Marketing is indispensable in growing your auto shop. Regardless of your shop’s size or specialization, you need effective marketing strategies to thrive in today’s market to help your shop get found by new customers and keep them coming back.
If you have a hard time wrapping your head around what marketing is, let alone where to begin marketing your auto repair business, that’s OK. This beginner’s guide will help you understand how to promote your auto shop to help attract new customers, retain current clients, and boost your bottom line.
Let’s get you started.
Start By Developing A Simple Marketing Strategy
You don’t need a fancy strategy out of the gate. Feeling like you must create an ultra-robust marketing strategy before you start execution can be paralyzing and result in little to no action.
Walk through the following steps to create a basic marketing strategy.
Step 1: Create goals
To create a strategy, you must pinpoint what you are trying to achieve. Think about what your goals are and write them down. Here are some sample goals:
- Gain [insert number] number of new customers per month.
- Gain [insert number] new customer reviews per quarter.
- Boost customer retention and repeat business by [insert number]%.
- Increase local brand awareness by partnering with one local business for joint marketing.
Step 2: Identify Your Ideal Customer
- Analyze Existing Customer Data: Start by examining your current customer database. Look for common characteristics, behaviors, and demographics among your most loyal and profitable customers. Key data points include age, gender, location, income level, vehicle type, and the services they frequently require. Start asking your loyal customers how they first found you.
- Look at Local Demographics: What are the most common age and income demographics in your local and broader areas? (i.e., Are you in a college town with a high population of students? Is your city full of mostly retired-aged folks? Are there a lot of families with kids? Is your city known to have folks with a high level of wealth? Etc.)
- Segment Your Audience: Divide your customer base into segments based on shared characteristics. For instance, you might have segments like “Young professionals with sports cars” or “Families with multiple vehicles.” This segmentation allows you to tailor your marketing messages more effectively. Note where they may hang out and how they will likely find you.
- Identify Pain Points, Wants, and Needs: Understanding how customers feel and think about their vehicle will help you craft targeted solutions and marketing messages. List your ideal customers’ common challenges, wants, and needs regarding their cars. This list may include things like:
- They want to remain vigilant about staying on top of their regular maintenance.
- They forget to stay on top of their vehicle’s regular maintenance, which causes other problems.
- They depend on their vehicle to take the kids to school and get themselves to work. If their car breaks, they want it fixed — fast.
- They want upgrades to boost their car’s performance.
- They had a bad experience at another auto shop. As a result, they struggle to trust auto shops.
- Assess Buying Behavior: Consider the buying behavior of your ideal customers. Do they prioritize quality over cost? Are they more likely to use online resources for research? Understanding their buying behavior helps you adjust your pricing, services, and marketing channels accordingly.
- Competitive Analysis: Study the auto shops you are competing against in your area. What type of customer are they successfully targeting? Identify gaps in their customer base that you can fill. Analyze customer reviews and feedback to gain insights into customer needs and preferences.
Step 2: Select Your Marketing Tactics
Start small. Execute one to two tactics at a time. Prioritize the ones you believe will be the most effective (based on what you learned about your ideal customers )and track how they perform for your business.
Read on for marketing tactic ideas.
Marketing Tactic Ideas For Your Auto Shop
Tactic 1: Establish An Online Presence (A Must-Have)
Establishing an online presence is crucial for any small business in today’s digital world. Start now if you do not have an online presence or have not been actively managing one.
Create a Website
Creating a new website or refreshing your existing website is essential and well worth the time, effort, and money. Here’s what you should consider and include on your website:
- Develop a user-friendly website using a website builder like WIX or Squarespace. Find someone to pay to help you get your website up fast if needed.
- Include essential information about your shop’s services (including starting prices, if possible).
- List your shop’s hours and contact details.
- Include photos of the front of your shop, the inside of your shop, and your team.
- Use words on your site to help people find your shop online. For example, having a phrase like “auto repair shop in [name of your town]” will be more effective than something like “your favorite auto shop.”
- Ensure your website functions well on mobile devices.
- Include some customer reviews and links to third-party review pages where customers have reviewed your shop.
- Link to your social media pages, if applicable.
- If you have time, write an “About Us” page to tell folk more about the history of your shop.
Claim Your Business Profiles
Another key piece to your online presence is review sites. The most common business review profiles are your Google business profile and Yelp profile. It’s important to claim and update these profiles to help people find your shop.
- Google My Business: Claim and optimize your “Google My Business” profile (link) to enhance your local search visibility. Fill out the Overview and Services sections. Add photos of your business. If there are existing negative Google Reviews, consider publicly responding to those reviews.
- Yelp: Claim and optimize your Yelp profile (link). Add as much information about your shop as you can. Add photos and videos, and reply to negative comments.
Your Yelp and Google profiles are the best places to collect customer reviews. (See the next section.)
Tactic 2: Encourage Customer Reviews And Loyalty
Online reviews and customer loyalty programs are vital for your auto repair shop.
Request Customer Reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp. Consumers value the opinions and experiences of others.
Loyalty Program: Consider implementing a loyalty program to offer deals and reward that retain loyal customers.
Tactic 3: Implement Email Marketing
Build an email list by collecting addresses from current customers and website visitors. Send regular emails with content like:
- Special offers and discounts
- Car care tips
- Updates on your auto repair business
Note: Understand and implement proper opt-in and opt-out processes to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act
Tactic 4: Utilize Social Media Marketing
Use social media platforms to engage with potential customers and promote your auto shop. Choose the social media site(s) that you think your ideal customer spends the most time on. For example, you may be an avid Instagram and TikTok user, but if you find out your ideal customer prefers Facebook — then focus your efforts on Facebook.
Keep your page(s) active. Share updates, promotions, and customer testimonials.
Tactic 5: Explore Online Advertising And Paid Search
Digital marketing through online ads, such as Google Ads and Facebook ads, and paid search (also called search engine marketing) can be very effective promoting your auto shop. If you feel savvy in navigating Google and Facebook ads, we encourage you to test these tactics for your business.
If you are uncomfortable or need more time to figure it out, consider hiring a freelance search and ads specialist to help you.
Tactic 6: Collaborate With Local Businesses
Think about your ideal customer. Where do they hang out? What other small businesses do they visit?
For example, if you think they frequent the local golf course or nail salon, reach out to the owners of those businesses and see how you may be able to collaborate on joint marketing efforts.
Think about related businesses you could partner with, such as used car dealerships, the local towing company, insurance agencies, etc.
Consider joining local business organizations to network and meet other business owners. Look into your local Chamber of Commerce as a starting point for business/networking opportunities.
Tactic 7: Participate In Local Events
Local events can be a great way to promote your shop. For example, if your community has parades around holidays, see if you can participate by driving a vehicle or walking with a sign advertising your auto shop.
Don’t Forget To Monitor And Adapt
Regularly track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts to determine if you need to make some adjustments. Look at analytics where possible to see what’s working and what isn’t. Remember, marketing is an ongoing and ever-evolving endevore, but it’s well worth the time and effort.