15 marketing ideas and tips for auto repair shops

15 marketing ideas and tips for auto repair shops

March 3, 2021
(Reading time: 9 - 17 minutes)

There are about 164,000 auto repair shops and maintenance centers in the U.S alone, and there were some 282 million vehicles operating on roads throughout the United States, as reported by Statista. While those numbers are staggering, the average shop sees only 22 vehicles a week. With such a large percentage of cars and trucks never making it to auto mechanic owner’s shops, you can’t be passive in your marketing efforts. With the industry growing and competitors are lurking and trying everything they can to get your clients attention. You, dear mechanic shop owner, must be diligent in keeping and attracting vehicle owners!

Here are 15 marketing ideas and tips for auto repair shops that not only keep clients coming back but also expand your businesses reach:

Say my name, say my name

1. Say my name, say my name

In the iconic song by Destiny's Child, “Say My Name,” we all just want to have our name spoken. However, unlike the song’s context, every business wants to be the first name someone thinks of when they need the goods or services you offer.

The first step is having your name recognized and said often is to maintain a consistent brand. It all starts with your logo.

While there are numerous cheap logo websites or you may be able to get your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate to design something for you on the cheap. No question having one professionally designed specifically for your auto repair business is essential. The reason being it will make you like a professional and trustworthy business, and it creates the name recognition you need.

Think about this, for example, you are on vacation, and your car breaks down. With a quick inspection, you find your thermostat. While this is a quick and easy fix, it is not easily fixed on the side of the road. Nor is limping on into your desired destination in 90-degree heat!

However, you do know that there are two shops within limping distance. One has no sign, just a couple of bays and several cars that have seen better days setting out front. Your other option has professional signage, the building looks clean and well kept, and overall looks professional.

Which one are you more likely to take your vehicle to? The professional-looking one!

Not only can you quickly Google them and see their ratings and reviews, but it will also make your significant other feel much better.

This isn’t to say their first shop isn’t as qualified or even better, but it is all about perception, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Get reviews for your auto repair shop

2. Get reviews for your auto repair shop

Online reviews, almost all of us look at them no matter what we are looking or shopping for. According to Bright Local, "90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business." And from an older survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 86 percent are influenced by negative online reviews.

When it comes to finding an automotive repair shop for your prospect’s vehicle or a quick lube place where they can get the oil changed quickly, you can bet they will look at the reviews.

To further back up my argument, think about this, the average consumer reads ten online reviews before making a purchase decision. And 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating. Also, purchase likelihood peaks when the average star rating of a product is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars on a 5-star scale. The reason a product with a 4.2-star rating sells better than a five star is that our brains are wired to resist being sold to. It's a defense mechanism, or in other words, nothing is perfect. From Reviews to Revenue: How Star Ratings and Review Content Influence Purchase.

Google My Business (GMB) listing

3. Google My Business (GMB) listing

Depending on your source, Google holds anywhere from 92% market share worldwide to 93% of the search market between all their properties. Regardless of how much they own, your GMB is the keystone in the arch that is the entrance or gateway to your website. The Google My Business (GMB) serves to support and lock everything you have and do on the web in place. According to SMA Marketing, “49% of businesses receive more than 1,000 average Search views of their GMB listing per month, and 33% receive 1,000+ views on Maps.”

At Cube Creative both Adam and I have written about local SEO and how your goal should be to get into the three-pack. Prospects and inherent searchers will be more inclined to click on results with any star rating than those without any. Especially if they are within the range mentioned above, if your click-through rate and the searcher’s time on site is higher, among other factors, Google will be more confident in placing your business higher in results.

How do you get more reviews?

Here are six ways to help you get more reviews:

  1. Have exemplary customer service
  2. Utilize an online review management system
  3. Have your mechanics tell your clients they would like a review
  4. Provide instructions on how to leave a Google review
  5. Send gentle email reminders that you’d appreciate a review
  6. Leave a business card in the seat or on the dash with a QR code link to your GMB profile page

Respond to both positive and negative reviews

For the sake of stating the obvious, If a review is positive, thank the vehicle owner, if it’s negative, be kind and attempt to make things right if you can. Just don’t get in a war with someone just because they leave you a bad online review.

If you need help setting up your GMB listing or more information in general, check out the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: A Deep Dive Into Google My Business for detailed directions or contact us, and we will be glad to help!

Name, Address and Phone

4. Don’t take a nap on your NAP

Keep your local citations up to date. In other words, don’t catch 40 winks with your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). These local citations or the listings that include your business’ name, address, phone number, and website URL are similar to backlinks. You will want your business consistently listed across all relevant online directories if applicable to your business. These include:

  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List
  • Nextdoor
  • YP.com
  • Your local chamber of commerce

Have a modern and professional auto repair website

5. Have a modern and professional auto repair website

In 2021, having a website of some sort for your business is a given. I also hate to break it to you, but your Facebook page is not your website or a “website.” Most shop owners often struggle with trying to maintain and update their websites. This is one reason that we created the yearly maintenance agreement that includes website hosting, domain, and time paid in advance for us to update our client’s sites. Think about this, if your shop is dirty and neglected, people may have a negative perception of your skills. The same goes for your neglected website with a promotion for $20 dollar oil changes in 2020.

Your website should be the center of all your marketing efforts, both online and offline. It is the ideal place that you can control the message. Apart from the cost to design and develop your site and minimal hosting and maintenance fees, it is essentially free. Unlike traditional advertising that requires you to distill your message into a few hundred words or a short sound bite, you are free to tell your complete story online.

Like your shop, your website's digital curb appeal matters. Unlike the “judgment-free zone” at Planet Fitness, you have as little as .05 seconds to grab the attention of your potential clients. 75% of consumers say they make snap judgments about a company based on its web design. Furthermore, a website that looks good must be user-friendly. Meaning it must load quickly and be intuitive. Your clients need to be able to find the information they need to pick up the phone or take their vehicle to your shop. 

What can you do to ensure your website works for you?

With great power comes great responsibility with analytics

6. With great power comes great responsibility

Between Google, Facebook, Amazon, and marketing technology services, being tracked across the internet is almost a given in today’s modern world. While we give up some privacy level for convenience, I like to say with great power comes great responsibility, especially on how we use that data.

As a shop owner having information about your clientele can be huge! Here are four tools we recommend you have on your site:

  • Google Analytics – It is the mac daddy of analytics and, much like Google, the standard when it comes to learning more about your website visitors. It is also Free! You can set up a Google Analytics account here.
  • Facebook Pixel – I would recommend installing this if you plan to ever advertise on their suite of platforms.
  • HubSpot – This is a sales and marketing company that offers tracking on your website. This allows you to know what page someone came to initially once they have filled out a contact form.
  • Use dedicated phone numbers to know which offline or online content is working.

Blogging the cheap way to drive traffic to your auto repair shop

7. Blogging the cheap way to drive traffic to your auto repair shop

One of the best and most affordable things you can do to drive traffic to your shop is to utilize a blog that simply answers people’s questions about auto care and maintenance. You will want to make sure your blog content is optimized for a variety of searches. The content you produce should provide direct value to your ideal clientele. Those who find value will continue to revisit your website. 

According to a report by HubSpot, 73% of people admit to skimming blog posts while 27% consume them thoroughly.

The bottom line is that it allows you to educate prospects and clients about their vehicles, inform them of specials, and remind them of services that their cars need such as oil changes, brake inspections, air conditioning top-offs, radiator flushes, and freeze point checks.

3 types of landing pages: marketing, SEO, and geographic

8. 3 types of landing pages: marketing, SEO, and geographic

All three types of landing pages are simply pages on your websites. Like any other page on your website, landing pages are there to provide value and information to a searcher or user. According to Seth Godin, a landing page is optimized specifically to encourage 1 of 5 actions:

  1. Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else's)
  2. Get a visitor to buy
  3. Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration, of course
  4. Get a visitor to tell a friend
  5. Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

Frequently, a landing page may or may not have a menu or navigation; it will be super clean and focus on one topic or one keyword phrase. 

According to HubSpot, the more landing pages you have, the more leads you are likely to get. We have seen great success with landing pages, especially the geographic ones. 

Love at first site

9. Hey, I know we just met, but want to get married?

Unlike the two students who just meet at a bible college on the first day, not every visitor that comes to your website has love at “first site” (pun intended) and is ready to “get married.” By this, I mean they aren’t ready to commit to you and fill out your contact form or call you. They may want to check you out. To go back to our student’s example, they may want and need to “date” you a little bit. According to HubSpot, approximately 96% of visitors to your website are not ready to buy.

Now there are several ways to help keep track of your visitors. Installing a tracking system will help show you the pages they visited before filling out your contact form. 

 

10. Develop a loyalty program

People will naturally gravitate towards the free choice, regardless of its actual value. Dan Ariely writes in his book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, “Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! we forget the downside. FREE! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”

Therefore offering a loyalty program that will allow your clients to earn free oil changes, tire rotations, or other repair services. It becomes a great way to show appreciation. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Martha Cogdill, Senior Account Executive at SpotOn, says there are three ways you can implement them:

  1. Choose if you want clients to earn rewards by dollar amounts or by visits.
  2. Offer enrollment rewards as incentives for clients joining your loyalty program.
  3. Keep the checkout process moving by letting clients choose how they want to check-in and redeem rewards.

Social Media

11. Social Media

I know I mentioned above that your social media page is not your website. It should go without saying that if you are going to market your business effectively, you need to have a presence on social platforms, at least. I will often tell prospects and clients alike that you need to claim your spot, even if you don’t plan to use it. 

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good, as of 2019, 72% of U.S. Adults were on some form of social media, a rise up from just 50% in 2011 (Pew Research). The bad, for several businesses, their organic reach (how many people you can reach for free) through their page have declined sharply. HubSpot reports that organic reach could be as low as 2%! Now for the ugly. When you take into account Facebook’s newsfeed changes, organic reach is at an all-time low! In other words, you may have to pay to play.

Pro Tips

Just like keeping your content fresh, you should consider including social media as part of your auto shop’s content marketing strategy. Consistent posting on Facebook and other social media channels will help your prospects learn more about you. Great things to post include:

  • Coupons and special offers
  • Contests or giveaways you’re running
  • Special promotional ads
  • Links to your blog
  • Customer testimonials
  • Helpful advice and recommendations for maintenance
  • Recall information for major car manufacturers
  • Warm fuzzies for your employee or clients, in other words, show the human side of your shop 
  • Pictures of your shop

Social Media Sharing Strategy: The 5-3-2-1 Guide

Of all the above tips, you shouldn’t be in full sales mode with every post. You should and need to have a rhythm to it and, dare I say, be social! The 5-3-2-1 guide the ideal ratio to help get the most out of your social media sharing strategy. 

5 Pieces Of Curated Content 

Utilize your social media channels to build trust. It’s easy to share what you are saying because, after all, you are the expert. However, you need to show your readers that what you're writing about is important not just because you say it is but because others say it is too. Be sure this content is relevant and that you link back to the page.

3 Pieces Of Informative And Educational Content

Here is where you can share things you have written and link to your blogs, landing pages, geographical landing pages, and pillar pages. This should not be a sales-focused page or post. Think education and informative, not buy now!

2 Humanized And Personal

Here is where you can post your personal and fun content that helps humanize your brand. Think about posting about office parties, congratulations, birthdays, etc.

1 Promotional content

Now you have built up trust with your audience; you can go for the “right-hook” and ask them to do something. This could be a promotional ask, link as appropriate. Now is the time, and this is where you can link directly to a sales-focused page.

12. Advertising: pay-per-click (PPC) and social media advertising

I will be the first to admit; I am not the biggest fan of PPC or social media ads. For most small businesses, I think they are a waste of time and resources. However, there are times and topics that they can work for; you just must be prepared to throw lots of money at it!

Getting on page 1 of Google with SEO

13. Getting on page 1 of Google with SEO

Just like Rodney Dangerfield, your website page isn’t going to get any respect from Google. What I mean is that every website page has the same chance to rank on page 1 of Google as all your competitors’ pages.

On average, it will take 2 to 6 months to see your website pages on the first few pages of Google even longer (possibly ever) if you don’t have a good SEO strategy in place. To get to number 1 on Google in less than one year takes extensive SEO knowledge and a lot of hard work. It will not just happen!

There are some things you can do. As I mentioned before, blogging, landing pages, and geographic landing pages really helps. 

Market your repair and maintenance services before the season hits

14. Market your repair and maintenance services before the season hits

When marketing your services, you need to start approximately two to three months before the season hits. 

Here is a simple timeline.

  • Three months out: 
    • Start by building out the landing pages on your website.
    • If you are going to do offline marketing, get the creative written and done.
  • Two months out: 
    • Create blogs around the topic, link back to your landing pages.
  • One month out:
    • Publicize the blog posts and promotions.
    • Get the offline marking into the hands of your prospects and clients.

15. Hire an agency to help

If you think this list is daunting, don’t fret. It can be a lot to try to handle on your own. I would strongly suggest looking to an outside agency to help. Just don’t look to your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate for help unless you know they specialize in assisting shops such as yours. Remember that marketing is an investment. The goal is to get more back than you put in. If your marketing company is doing that for you, it’s going to be worth it.

At Cube Creative, we can help you with all or some of the items on this list. Reach out to us for a free consultation!

 

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  March 3, 2021

Chad is our business development manager. He will help you survey your business needs, ensuring you are educated on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/chad-treadway