The auto repair industry can be exhausting. From laying out an auto repair shop business plan to coming up with creative ways to bring in more customers to your auto repair shop. Knowing how to run a successful automotive repair shop doesn’t come easily – but with the right advice and a fair bit of elbow grease you can keep your business in the fast lane.
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9 ways to increase sales for your auto repair shop
If you’re wondering how to run a successful automotive repair shop, you’ve come to the right place. There are a lot of moving pieces that depend on one another, but some of the most essential parts of an auto repair shop business plan will connect back to marketing.
Marketing strategies for auto repair shops are designed, and put to use, for one reason: to bring in more customers to your auto repair shop! So stop scratching your head asking how to grow your auto repair business. Include these 9 pointers in the marketing plan for your auto repair shop and watch your sales bloom.
One important note: Of course, the type of business will affect the kind of industry loans a business needs, as well as the specific circumstances that business finds itself in. Be sure to weigh your options carefully in order to choose the right funding solution for your business.
Top 9 ways to bring in more customers to an auto repair shop:
- Establish a presence online
- Sharpen up on SEO
- Connect with local businesses
- Engage with social network communities
- Schedule future appointments
- Create incentives for referrals
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
- Become a thought leader
- Develop a unique brand
Now to expand on each of those individual tips…
1. Establish a presence online
We are in the Age of the Internet, there are no two ways about it. If you don’t have any sort of online presence, you’re doing your business an injustice. For many people, especially younger generations, if you can’t be found online you don’t really exist. Put some time into establishing even the most basic website – it’ll get your name out and add to your business’s legitimacy. You can also use an online service such as Wix to design your website with an easy drag-and-drop user interface, or hire a professional web designer to do it for you!
2. Sharpen up on SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of improving your website’s ranking on search engine results lists. For example, when a potential customer searches for ‘affordable auto repair’ on Google, where does your website show up? Is it in the top five results? Top ten?
You might be wondering why SEO is important. Well, data shows that 70% of Google searches result in the ‘searcher’ clicking on a link on the first page. In other words, websites that rank higher are more likely to be clicked on. Take some time to learn all about improving your SEO practices.
3. Connect with local businesses
Small businesses have certain advantages over large corporations, and that includes having an easier time creating mutually beneficial relationships with other local businesses. For example, you can set up a deal where customers of your auto repair shop can get a discount at local restaurants, and those local restaurants can return the favor by advertising your business. The other benefit is that you’ll be earning a good reputation with the local community. Take a look at the neighborhood, you may have opportunities to expand your network just around the corner.
4. Engage with social network communities
Besides making a website, you’ll definitely want to consider setting up social media accounts for your auto repair shop. Hopefully, you’ve at least heard of the top three social media platforms by now: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The first big reason why you should get involved with social media is it’s absolutely free to sign up, which essentially means free advertising. It certainly takes effort and skill to get good at it, but there are also the paid advertising options that you can use to automate posts, target specific audiences, and assess campaign effectiveness.
The second big reason to get on social media is that the audience sizes are immense – in the United States alone there are nearly 70 million Twitter users. While you likely aren’t going to try and reach out to that many people, the point is you’ll want to capitalize on the opportunities to impact potential customers that Twitter and other websites offer for free.
5. Schedule future appointments
Don’t allow current customers to slip through the cracks tomorrow (or next month). When someone comes in for an oil change, schedule another one with them. If somebody comes in to recharge their air conditioning, make sure you give them a date to come back so you can take another look at it. Remind your clients that automobile maintenance is an ongoing task and not something to leave until the last minute. At the end of the day, you’re not providing the service to just make money, but to also ensure your customers’ safety and peace of mind on the road.
6. Create incentives for referrals
Word of mouth is still the best form of advertisement all around the world, with 92% of consumers saying they trust it above all other forms of advertising. While that percentage is impressive, telling that to your customers may not be the best way to get them recommending your auto repair shop to their friends.
Incentivize them – have them fill a simple form with their name and telephone number, and tell them that if anybody comes in and mentions your name, they’ll get a discount or a free oil change (for example). You can be fun and creative, but make sure you focus on the goal: bring in more customers to your auto repair shop!
7. Encourage customers to leave reviews
There are lots of review websites that you can encourage your customers to visit, but Yelp is the leader when it comes to word-of-mouth feedback on any type of business. Every month there are more than 120 million Yelp users (between mobile and desktop visits), and nearly 50% of Yelp users in the US earn an income of $100k or more. So, even if your customers don’t make referrals directly to people they know, a favorable review can still do the trick for your auto repair shop. Bottom line – give your customers a nudge to leave you some nice feedback.
8. Become a thought leader
Providing satisfactory service for customers is almost always the number one priority. But how can new customers get an accurate impression of your expertise before they put their vehicle in your hands? One way is for you to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry by providing educational content. That can be in the form of blog posts, podcasts, video tutorials, engaging in conversation on social media, and much more.
By staying up-to-date with current trends in auto repair, and also providing your own input or participating in discussions on industry topics, you can show customers that you’ve got knowledge and professionalism that they can and should rely on.
9. Develop a unique brand
There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ brand. There’s only what works for you, and what doesn’t work. One of the best ways to stand apart from the competition is actually to get inspired by your competition. We’re not suggesting you outright copy any of your competitors – in fact, let us say it loud and clear: don’t copy your competitors! But, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to reinvent the wheel (no pun intended). Take certain aspects, leave others, and make sure that your brand is unique.
Use customer testimonials to solidify your satisfaction guarantee. Tell customers when you established and how long you’ve been around. Highlight the benefits you bring to your customer through your service: saving them time, giving them peace of mind, and so on. Most importantly, maintain consistency in the type of images you use, the kinds of messages you put out, and the voice you use with customers.
Top challenges of running an auto repair shop
Marketing strategies for auto repair shops can be difficult to get good at, but there are other even more fundamental challenges that automotive businesses are faced with. The list of obstacles that auto repair business encounter is lengthy, so we’ve narrowed it down to the top three. Don’t worry, we offer some advice on how to clear those hurdles while we’re at it.
If your finances are stopping you from getting done what you want (or need) to get done, consider the usefulness of an unsecured business loan. There’s no need to provide any form of collateral, and you can use the funds for any purpose around your auto repair shop.
There are a variety of types of auto repair shop loans that are available – make sure to assess them all before applying.
Top three challenges of running an auto repair shop:
1. Labor shortage
With roughly 66% of high school graduates going on to enroll in college or university, a wide variety of industries are anticipating a rough ride ahead as far as labor shortage goes. Reports have shown that an estimated 76,000 mechanics are required to enter the auto repair industry annually to not only replace those exiting workers but to also fill the projected 46,000 new jobs that are created every year. Unfortunately, since there are only about 36,000 graduates from auto tech training programs per year, these numbers paint a concerning picture.
Top tip: Link up with local high schools and/or vocational institutes. Investigate what sorts of opportunities there are to reach out to youth so that you can illustrate how your industry is a viable path to pursue, and that college is not the only option after graduation.
2. Evolving technology
There seems to be no end to human ingenuity, and we see evidence of that at an increasingly-often rate. New advancements are constantly being made, improved on, remade, and so on. This creates a difficult situation for any business that relies heavily on having up-to-date equipment, including the auto repair industry. And it’s not just about the machines that are used to analyze or fix a problem, it’s also about the digitization of car systems themselves.
Top tip: Besides the obvious advice of ‘keeping up with current trends and news’, you should consider equipment financing to help you keep up with the costs of replacing (and repairing) tools and machinery.
Applying for equipment loans is no hassle through Become. We use advanced algorithms and technology to make the process quick and easy, and most importantly to increase your chances of getting approved.
3. Environmental regulations
The challenges presented by climate change are definitely bigger than the challenges that environmental regulations pose to the auto repair industry – but that doesn’t change the costs of operating a business according to those regulations. Increased costs for the business owner can, of course, translate into higher costs for customers, which can drive down business.
Top tip: Explain to customers that you’re going green with your business, and a percentage of what they’re paying for your services goes directly towards keeping the environment clean. While it won’t change how their wallet feels, knowing that they are contributing to a better future will change how they feel. You can even send out email newsletters that highlight your continued dedication to making our world green.
The future of the auto repair industry
Don’t be dismayed by the challenges that the future holds for the auto repair industry, there’s still hope.
Industry growth for the past five years has been 1.2% annually, bringing the total number of businesses to more than 270,000 establishments throughout the United States in 2020. And the number of employees in the auto repair industry is also growing, having exceeded 570,000 workers in 2020. All of that means even more when you consider the fact that 75% of all auto repairs are conducted at a third party repair shop compared to only 25% at car dealerships.
Technology also stands to present some benefits to the auto repair industry. In 2018, the Internet of Things (IoT) consisted of some 3.6 billion devices – and the number is projected to increase for the foreseeable future. The auto repair industry will not be left unmarked by the growth of the IoT – an estimated 94 million cars will be interconnected by 2021. Through the effective collection of virtual mountains of raw data, and the subsequent analysis of that data by AI and machine learning, the auto repair industry will see unprecedented changes in the near future.
All in all, the future doesn’t look so bleak. As has always been the case, your business’s success will ultimately depend on your ability to operate it the right way. Reaching the top of the mountain is less about the steepness of the incline than it is about the way you’re able to shift gears.
Don’t stall now
Instead of getting caught in a roundabout, you can learn how to grow your auto repair business and give your company the edge it needs. The future of the auto repair industry will doubtlessly have its fair share of potholes and detours, but you can use these tips to tune up your auto repair shop business plan. So buckle up and start your engines, because the ride has only just begun!
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