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Having supplied the Automotive Marketing Industry for over a decade, Orange Dog have put together 14 marketing tips specifically custom to the wider automotive trade. Aimed for any existing customer who maybe struggling for business, or needs some fresh ideas on how to promote themselves.
1. GET THE BASICS
Keep up appearances.
A strong Logo will ensure visibility in a potentially crowded market. Make sure that your branding is kept consistent throughout all your marketing material. Stay focused and build connections with customers.
IDENTITY – EXPECTATION – REPRESENTATION
CONNECTION – BUSINESS VALUES – COMPETITION
2. MOVING LOCATION
Make it a smooth transition.
Whether by choice or necessity we can help! Moving location is a big undertaking. For whatever the reason, make it an opportunity to create positive news. Let people know by starting early and promoting constantly.
SHOW A MAP | CREATE HYPE | MEET THE NEIGHBORS (See tip No.9)
3. FIND NEW CUSTOMERS
While keeping your favorite clients is a priority (see tip No.4), if you are wanting to expand, consider some of these strategies:
- Referral Vouchers. Word of mouth is cheap and effective advertising. Offer your existing clients a “Refer a friend” voucher or rewards scheme and get them to do your advertising. Chances are, if your client is a ‘good’ one, they will bring other ‘good’ clients.
- Letterbox drop in your local area. Let the locals know who you are and where you are. If you happen to be the nearest service/repair option, you can offer extra services such as pick-up/drop-off etc. ALWAYS include a special that has a measurable dollar value, this adds value and reduces the chance of ending up in the bin.
4. RETAIN LOYAL CUSTOMERS
Let’s face it, not all customers are created equal. Some will haggle for the cheapest option, question everything you’ve done and then drag out payment, while others’ are an absolute dream to work for.
Make sure it’s the dream clients that keep coming back by treating them right, staying in regular contact and rewarding them with products that let them know you appreciate their custom. Individualized DOMED KEY-RINGS created a sense of exclusivity, while a custom REFER A FRIEND voucher not only rewards your client, it creates new, like minded customers.
5. SHOWING YOU CARE
It’s not just about taking the time to get to know your client see tip No. 4, it’s also about making sure you have good communication strategies in place (calling when you said you would etc.) and, importantly, showing a care of duty that may cover you legally in a worst case scenario. If you are performing tasks which involve aspects of vehicle safety and subsequently require some form of accountability, the work you have performed and the result for the client need to be clearly communicated to your client.
A safety checklist / Warning should either be handed directly to the client, or, as in the case of our steering wheel wraps, placed in a position where it’s impossible to be missed by your client. MAKE SURE YOUR CLIENT IS SAFE, AND YOU ARE COVERED.
6. CREATE GOOD HABITS
Habits are a lot easier to make than to break. If a client visits your workshop at least 2-3 times within 12 months, they’re a lot closer to becoming loyal, repeat customers (assuming you treat them right see tip No. 4). Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting them in on a regular basis, even if what you are offering is a free service.
ie. creating a ‘FREE, pre-winter check’ that takes a mechanic less than 5 minutes, not only builds that loyalty, it’s also an opportunity make sure their vehicle is safe (see tip No. 5) and to point out issues that may need resolving (adding additional work).
7. SPREADING YOUR MARKETING COSTS
Using additional products to increase your marketing doesn’t have to increase your costs!
Many products should be counted as part of your expenses, which, like any other small parts or consumables you’ve used, are included in your clients invoice.
Most invoices include a ‘sundries’ section, adding $1.50 (for a lube sticker and a back window sticker)
to this will make no difference to the your client, especially if you’ve given great service and value
see tip No. 4.
8. MECHANICS SCORE BOARD
Chargeable hours equals profit.
As an Owner / Manager, you shouldn’t be subsiding your own staff. One of the biggest aspects of managing a healthy, profitable Auto Repair business, is ensuring your Technicians are charging their time properly. Give your Technicians the tools to charge their time effectively and properly. Having some form of scoring system, such as a score board, or a daily target card that all team members are required to fill in and is visible to all, makes everyone accountable to each other, which is often more of an incentive to maintain acceptable figures.
It doesn’t even have to be with a complimentary business, but if you can create a beneficially mutual relationship with a company, you can increase your marketing exposure while cutting your marketing spend. Is there a local cafe to where you can send your clients on ‘while you wait’ jobs, who would be happy to display your advertising cards? Does your friend have a windscreen repair business with which you could share space and costs on a Registration holder?
There’s a few excellent Automotive Supply groups, Co-op’s and franchises available that can offer marketing advantages, savings, group buyer discounts and/or all-in-one accounting solutions that can make the running of your business smoother and easier.
Have a look around and talk to the representatives involved to see if they can help your business.
Trained Technicians that have to spend time explaining to customers completed or upcoming work, are generally doing so at the expense of chargeable hours. Either train your front office staff to a level that they can clearly and competently communicate the most common aspects of repairs & servicing, or invest in a set of fully customised TECH SPEAK cards that explain in plain English a range of the most common repairs. Also, see tip No. 8
12. VALUE ADDED SERVICE
Would you like fries with that?
This one’s all about increasing your clients $ spend, without significantly increasing your work load.
It might sound a little cliched, but it can work very effectively. Creating combo’s that cover similar work processes, adds another chargeable job, and if you’ve offered it as a discounted combo, you’ve both added value to your work and created a happy client!
Note: unless it’s for a value added special, avoid discounting your work, this is a slippery slope to lost profits, (see tip No. 5)
13. MAKE IT EASY
To do business with your company.…sounds like a no brainer, but a lot of business’s aren’t doing themselves a favor!
Always greet your customers warmly, whether on the phone or in person, communicate clearly, keep them informed and always under promise and over deliver. Find ways to TELL your clients when to come back, Lube stickers and reminders are a great way to do this without having to call.
Offer to combine their servicing with the WOF schedule to save them the time and hassle of booking in twice. This can work for you by ensuring you keep both the servicing and WOF testing business. Use your business cards effectively by adding a map to the back of your card, clearly showing how to find you, as well as an area to write booking/pick-up times. Finally, thank your customers. Most of them have a choice of places to visit and for whatever reason, they have chosen your company, make sure they know you appreciate it (see tip No. 4).
It’s not always about the mighty dollar. Giving back to your community can be rewarding in a number of ways. As an alternative (or in addition) to donating to charities and non-profit organisations, you have the very valuable expertise and ability to make a difference to these groups by reducing costs. Offering to do the vehicle servicing for a local charity at no cost not only provides the ‘feel good’ factor to you and your team, you may well experience an increase in customers as word of your awesomeness spreads.
- KEEP IT LOCAL Stay connected to your local community
- KEEP IT PERSONAL Choose a charity you feel some connection to
- BANG FOR BUCK Many smaller charities run on the smell of an oily rag and the goodness of volunteers, your assistance can make a BIG difference!
- TAKE PRIDE You’re using your skills to help others, never under-value that
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