When it comes to marketing ideas to grow your auto repair, dealership, bodywork, auto parts and accessories, or car wash business, advertising advice that works for other enterprises may fall short. The problem with the automotive industry is that people don’t generally tend to think about your services until they suddenly need them. So how do you make sure that yours is the first business they find when they start looking? Here are ten marketing ideas tailored specifically to the automotive sales and service industry that will help drive customers right to your door.
1. Establish and Optimize Your Web Presence
This seems obvious, so why do so many auto repair shops and the like still refuse to join the party? Studies show that up to 97% of those looking to buy, fix, or customize a car start their journey online. Whether they get referrals from Facebook friends, check out directories of auto dealers, or simply Google “auto repairs near me,” the Internet is where they’re looking. The bottom line? If you don’t have a strong web presence, you’re not likely to be found. As a minimum, you should have a website, a blog, social media business pages, and an email marketing list, all optimized with keywords and phrases that customers might use to search for you.
2. Network, Network, Network
Establish relationships with others in your industry. If you do auto repair, let local dealerships know you’re available to take overflow repairs and services. Word of mouth referrals from salespeople at a dealership can really boost your repair or customization business, and a strategic partnership with a dealership or rental company can keep your car wash running when times are slow. Build as many connections as you can with others in your industry – even the competition!
3. Incentivize Referrals
Everyone loves a freebie, even if it’s something small. No one’s going to recommend you if you provide poor service anyway, but sometimes even the best service doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Your customers might just need a little prompting to promote you to their friends. Let them know how much you value their business (and that of their friends and family) with a little thank you gift or service. Invite them to like your Facebook page and sign up for newsletters and special offers by email. Remember, most people are skeptical when dealing with automotive businesses, so a recommendation from a friend is a powerful thing.
4. Be Accessible
When it comes to automotive sales, repair work, and customization, not only do people look for you online, but they do most of the research and decision making before they even come in to your business. Provide plenty of information on your website, blog, and social media pages about your products and services. Make sure your phone number and contact information are prominently featured, along with a way for customers to ask questions via web form or email. Respond promptly and courteously to any inquiries you get, without being pushy. As a bonus tip you should keep track of and collect every call and email so you can follow up the with customers in the future.
5. Work with Insurance Companies
Although it may seem tedious, go ahead and jump through the hoops necessary to become sanctioned by auto insurance companies. Customers seeking repairs after an accident nearly always stick with a sanctioned facility. And a customer who is happy with post-accident auto repairs is likely to come back for other, non-accident related repairs!
6. Become a Subject Matter Expert
Publish a blog or newsletter (or both!) about automotive related subjects your customers may be interested in, from best practices for prolonging the life of your car to upcoming changes in emission standards in your state. Find information that is interesting, helpful, and exciting to a car owner and make a habit of sharing it with your customers. You could even offer a workshop on basic car upkeep, covering frequency of oil changes, recommended tire pressure settings, tire rotation frequency, and ways to get better gas mileage. All of this helps to build trust, which is critical in the auto industry, and generate new leads from customers looking for a trusted guide for their auto servicing needs.
7. Be a Community Leader
Especially for auto dealers, building your brand in the community is crucial – when it’s time to buy a new car, you want your business to be the first to come to mind. You can do this by participating in civic groups and networks, sponsoring sports teams and youth programs, supporting local charities, and anything else you can find to connect with future customers in a positive way (by clarence at dresshead inc). And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn about your activities, in social media, blogs, and even press releases.
8. Accessorize and Customize
Whether it’s a company license plate holder, logo tee shirt, key chains, seat covers, floor mats, air fresheners, or dashboard bobble heads, U.S. consumers love to accessorize. Distinguish your business from the rest with unique, innovative custom accessories that your customers will want to flaunt.
9. Bundle It
Some new car manufacturers have taken to offering free services for a fixed amount of time or mileage as an incentive to purchase a new car, with quite a bit of success. Who wouldn’t love not having to budget for auto servicing for the next year or two or five? Consider bundling repair services tailored to maintaining an aging car at recommended intervals. Alternatively, monthly car wash packages or detailing combinations are quite popular.
10. Offer Free Inspections
Offer free safety inspections with a comprehensive report of discrepancies. Let the customer know not only what must be fixed now, but what should be fixed now and what may need to be repaired or replaced in the next few months or few thousand miles. The customer will respect you for not trying to sell them unnecessary repairs, and be forewarned of expenses he or she will have to budget for in the future. If you live in a state with emissions regulations, consider offering a free pre-check before the vehicle goes to the state facility.
Hopefully some or all of these suggestions have addressed your unique needs as an automotive sales, service, customization, or repair facility to bring in new customers, get referrals, and build your business. Good luck!