Why Does Your Shop Need Auto Repair Marketing?
The auto repair and auto service industry is saturated and very competitive. From 2015 – 2020, the industry largely experienced healthy growth. Additionally, per capita disposable income levels grew during much of the period, enabling more consumers to forego do-it-yourself repairs and enlist service providers to complete the necessary repairs and maintenance for their vehicles.
The current auto repair market size is $63bn. Within that, there are currently over 250,000 businesses that classify as “auto repair” or “auto service”. That consists of over 150,000 independent operators, as well as industry heavy weights, such as Moncro Inc, Jiffy Lube, Meineke, and Midas.
Now consider that there are over 273 million vehicles owned in the US. That is a tremendous number of vehicles. Using simple math, that would divide to 1,092 vehicles per service center. Divide that by 52, and it comes to servicing 21 new clients per week. Now we can all agree that that is a somewhat unrealistic number, but it is just a glimpse into the possible business that is out there.
The auto repair industry numbers also underline the simple truth that, now more than ever, auto repair shop owners must work hard to keep the customers they have and attract new ones. Shop owners can’t be passive in their auto service marketing efforts.
What Motivates Local Residents to Choose an Auto Repair Shop?
There are few factors that drive a consumer’s decision to seek out a local auto repair shop. There is the obvious need for service because they are experiencing troubles with their vehicle now. Most people have a busy lifestyle, and do not have the time or the desire to seek out the knowledge of “how to fix” a mechanical problem, nor do they have the time to actually perform the fix.
- Ask Around – Ask friends and family, neighbors, and anyone you trust in the local community. Referrals are very powerful in any industry, but especially in the auto repair industry as many consumers fear getting ripped off.
- Shop Around – Don’t rely on one shop for a price quote and don’t make a hasty decision. In a lot of cases, auto repair shops will be competing against each other on repairs.
- Don’t base your decision only on price – Don’t just go with the cheapest price, make sure you are getting the best value. This means an auto shop must clearly communicate the value of its services.
The underlying message from the list, is that your auto repair shop will actively be pitted against your local competition on many aspects, including price, reputation, quality, value, and visibility in the local market.
Identify Your Target Demographic and Market to Them
Take the time to identify what your most profitable and most popular services are and who in the local market is using them. Once you have identified those factors; it becomes much easier to begin targeting similar consumers around your business. So take the time to understand the makeup of your current customer base, and that will help in targeting others in your local market.
Don’t waste your time broadcasting your auto repair marketing blindly to your surrounding neighborhoods.
- Are there specific vehicles that your work on?
- Are there specific services that are the most profitable and easy to complete?
- Is there a target household income that is most likely to use your services?
- How far does your average customer drive to bring in their vehicle?
These and much more are specifics that you can use to tightly target your auto service marketing to the “most likely to convert” prospects within your local market.
Auto Repair Marketing Essentials
Auto Repair Website Design
Your website is usually the first impression people have of your business. Even when a loyal client recommends your shop to someone, they will usually check you out online before trusting you with their vehicle. You should have a professional-looking website that details information about the services your auto shop provides, along with your experience and credentials. Always include customer testimonials and reviews, as well as very visible contact information and social media links.
All of your marketing will point to your website. Every piece of auto repair marketing that you use, from digital ads, email marketing, and even direct mail marketing should drive new prospects to a landing page on your website that is strategically designed to convert them into becoming new customers. Many practices go into designing a web page that converts, such as consistent branding, readability, reducing the number of choices presented to the site visitor, easy access to contacting you, as well as other design elements that will funnel the site visitor and drive them to come in for service.
Lastly, your auto repair website must be mobile friendly and easy to navigate. The majority of people that search for your auto repair business will do so on their phones. In 2019, 61% of Google searches were on mobile devices, and that number is expected to rise in the years to come.
Auto Repair Local Search Marketing (SEO)
Rather than getting bogged down with technical issues and terms associated with auto repair local search marketing and auto repair SEO programs, lets pose this simple question:
When a consumer in your local market performs a Google Search for “auto repair shop near me” or “automotive repair near me”, do you want your auto repair shop to show up on the first page of the search results?
I hope you answered YES! You should have answered yes, considering that Over 80% of consumers research a product or service online via a Google search before making a buying decision.
Having a website that is visible to search engines, and that ranks well for the proper search terms is on the most important pieces of any effective auto repair marketing strategy. Search engines work by finding websites which match the keywords that local prospects search with. Understanding what those search terms are and developing a strategy that will optimize each page of your website to rank for those terms involves many steps, including unique page titles, correct use of headers, keyword filled content, as well as internal link tagging.
Claiming and managing your business listing on Google My Business will also help you to improve your local search rankings. For the best results, make sure the information on your website includes your address and phone number along with a clear description of your business and the business categories you fit in.
Auto Repair Digital Marketing (PPC, SEM)
One of the most powerful auto repair digital marketing tools are Google Search ads, often referred to as Google PPC ads. They are one of the most effective way to drive new customer traffic to your website.
When a consumer performs a Google search for a local service or product, the resulting Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will display in 2 main sections:
- Paid Ads– Typically located at the top and bottom of the SERP, as well as on the right side panel. These are marketing ads that advertisers create on the Google ads network. Advertisers are charged for these ads ONLY when someone clicks on them.
- Organic Results– Earned rankings that show websites in the local market that are valid to the search query. Your website will show up in this area of the SERP by rank depending on your website’s SEO strategy.
There are a lot of benefits to using Google PPC advertising as part of Auto Repair Marketing. For starters, they give you great exposure to local residents searching for your auto repair related services. The top of a Google search engine results page is prime real estate and does not go unnoticed by the consumer. Even the most web savvy searcher still cannot help to notice strategically placed auto repair ads.
The numbers tell the story: 30% of consumers click on the paid ads at the top and bottom of the Google SERP, which is respectable. But check this out… Consumers are OVER 70% more likely to click on your organic listing in the SERP if they also see that your shop has an auto repair PPC ad at the top of the SERP. Not that is POWERFUL!
Auto Repair Social Media Marketing
When it comes down to it, one of the main goals of marketing and advertising is to get the consumer’s attention. Once you have accomplished that first step, then you need to deliver a message that connects with them. Social media is one of the essential auto repair marketing tools for doing just that.
Social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, provides auto repair shops with the ability to have one-on-one conversations with existing clients and strengthen those relationships. Social media also offers the opportunity to engage new customers and answer any questions or concerns that they may have. Social media is one of the most powerful places to create trust and familiarity in your local market.
With over 79% of people in the US using social media, it is also an extremely effective platform to give your brand exposure in your local market. A well-crafted Facebook or Instagram ad designed to connect with your target demographic can drive a significant amount of traffic to your auto repair website and landing pages. These ads show up in the natural flow of the user’s news fees along with typical daily postings, so they are not disruptive to the users experience.
Facebook Ad budgets are flexible, and you can set a daily budget, a monthly budget cap, and target your audience based on a variety of demographics such as location, income, interests, and behaviors. Your auto repair Facebook and Instagram ads show in the news feed or the sidebar of the Facebook account belonging to anyone who meets the criteria of your target audience. You can also use auto service Facebook ads to target people who have visited your website or your business’s Facebook page.
Auto Repair Direct Mail Marketing
Direct mail is a time-tested auto repair marketing tool. It still remains as one of the most effective vehicles for bringing in new customers. Even in the age of digital marketing, where your business must have a digital presence to compete, auto repair direct mail marketing still performs extremely well. The Decision Neuroscience Research Group” tested how the human brain processes Direct Mail Marketing and Digital Marketing differently. The evidence pointed to the fact that Auto Repair Direct Mail Advertising can be a far more effective tool to “motivate action response” than Digital Advertising.
Specifically, auto service postcards perform very well and are very cost effective. The solo nature of auto service postcards stands out in the mail and gets the attention of the consumer immediately. Your promotion is delivered directly to your defined target audience making the response rate and ROI very high.
- You can target only your IDEAL prospects by neighborhood and/or demographics
- Your message is featured and can be read without having to open anything
- Postage is cheaper with automotive postcards compared to letters or folded flyers
A properly developed auto repair direct mail strategy will also help you build credibility with prospects in your local market. Targeting local prospects with regular mailings will help to establish your auto repair shop as a stable, trustworthy business and will help to keep your business “top of mind” when consumers need your services. The strategy is to reach prospects first and also reach prospects more often. In just about any type of sales or marketing, repetition and persistence pay off.
General Tips for Effective Auto Repair Marketing
Use Google Reviews
Reviews are vital part of auto repair marketing. Data shows that 91% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 68% percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.
Create a process that encourages your customers to leave reviews, monitors the reviews they leave, and improves or replies to any negative reviews you might receive. Creating a review process will also help you run your business better.
In the auto repair industry, word of mouth is vital. Ethically encourage people to leave reviews for your company on Google and Facebook as they can help boost your SEO ranking. If you have high rating on Google-approved review platforms or Yelp, incorporate these into your digital ads. Use customer quotes on your website, on your print ads, and in your imagery for social and display ads. Your happy clients are one of your greatest assets, so use them to your advantage.
Have a Referral Program
One of the easiest and most effective ways to generate quality leads is through referrals. Without question, they have the highest ROI of any auto repair marketing tool.
Referral sales require almost no financial investment, but they bring in very valuable warm leads. Here are a few statistics from Social Media Today:
- 78% of B2B marketers say that referral programs generate good or excellent leads.
- 60% of marketers say that referral programs generate a high volume of leads.
Ask for referrals when a customer is exciting about your company. Ask for them right away after they have paid for their service. If the customer is convinced that what you do is valuable, then that’s the perfect time to ask for a referral.
Seek out and create strategic partnerships with other related business in your local market. For example, introduce yourself to the local auto parts stores and towing companies. Try to setup a referral program with them and ask if you can leave them some of your marketing, such as business cards and rack cards.
It may also be beneficial to join auto industry trade organizations like the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, the Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence, or the the Automotive Service Association,
Have Coupon Offers with Real Value!
As a rule, you do not want to get in a situation where your auto repair center is only marketing on price, but coupons and special offers do draw attention and give your business exposure.
Statistics show that in 2020, 88% of consumers use coupons to purchases items and services.
The keys are getting the offers in front of the correct consumers, and also identifying what offers have real value to those consumers.
Some industry standard offers are:
- Half-off oil change
- Free oil change with purchase of an emission/safety test
- Free oil change with any repair of more than a certain dollar amount
- Free/reduced cost tire rotation with the purchase of another service
- A certain dollar amount off a specific service
- A certain percentage off the cost of an overall bill
- New customer discount
A coupon or discount offer is a very effective way to bring in new business, which gives you the opportunity to turn them into regular clients. When offering a discount to bring in new customers, first identify what a new client is worth to your business and that will help you identify, and craft offers that will bring you in the greatest ROI.
Follow up with leads IMMEDIATELY!
Even the greatest, most pin-point auto repair marketing will not succeed if you do not know how to properly manage and respond to leads. According to Forbes, companies waste 71% of their internet leads. That’s staggering!
When a lead comes in, promptly follow up on them without letting any fall by the wayside. Automotive repair leads often require immediate attention. Phone call-ins in particular should be considered high priority, and you should respond to them ASAP to answer their concerns.
With web leads, a thank you email or phone call should be made within 12-24 hours after a lead comes in. Offer to answer any questions they may have to demonstrate the care and attention you provide to each customer.
Organize the leads into at least three groups: Hot, warm, and cold. Move leads from group to group as you get to know them better and move them closer to becoming a paying client.
Entrepreneur has a great tips on how to better manage sales leads.