Author Archive Eric Lawton

ByEric Lawton

How Local Media Coverage Can Increase Business at Your Auto Repair Shop

As an auto repair shop owner, you may not think much about your day-to-day business is newsworthy. However, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Local news is quite different than national and even statewide news. You have everything from local papers and business journals to hometown and indie radio stations. It’s surprisingly easy to get in touch with reporters and show hosts from these types of media outlets. In addition, there are many story angles when it comes to topics like buying or selling a vehicle, and auto repair and maintenance. Consider some of these questions to discover interesting and timely topics:

  • Do cars develop a lot of rust in your area due to weather conditions?
  • What tires do best on potholes in your region?
  • Can you help clients shop for the best cars to safely handle snowy or icy weather?
  • Which model cars are the best from your experience, that keep running 15 years or more with little or no maintenance?
  • What are common problems with certain popular car models in your area? Are there many pickup drivers where you live? What about hot rod drivers, commuters, mini-van drivers, etc.?
  • What is some little-known advice for buying a used car that would help someone who doesn’t understand vehicles?

These topics can be very valuable to the public and can make great general interest stories. In addition, changing weather often makes your expert contributions especially relevant to local media sources.

How News Coverage Can Help Your Shop

Getting featured in the local news offers many benefits to auto repair shops:

  • It legitimizes your brand and helps to build trust. Buying a vehicle and having it serviced can be intimidating to someone who doesn’t know a lot about cars (and that’s most people). When they see your shop featured on the local news, they figure, “He must know what he’s doing.” Or, “He must have a good reputation. I’ll go there.”
  • It lets the public know you exist and increases business at your auto repair shop. It’s fair to say that most people don’t shop for auto repair service until they need it. However, if they happen to see a reporter interview you about how to get to work safely during a winter storm warning, the customer is more likely to take their business to your garage than to shop around.
  • It establishes you as an expert. When people see you in the paper or on the morning news, they’ll be more likely to believe you know what you’re doing and that you understand cars on a very deep level. By maintaining a blog and nailing an interview or two, you will really set yourself apart as a reliable, local automotive expert. Just don’t forget to post the videos or articles on your website and social media channels!

How to Contact Local Reporters

The trick is to develop relationships with reporters before contacting them and then to contact reporters before they even need your story. Social media makes it easier than ever to develop relationships with public figures. You can follow them, friend them, re-Tweet them, and comment regularly on their articles and content. Monitor the online activity of various reporters, publications, and media outlets to get a better sense for who you think might feature an article about car buying, repair, or maintenance. After you’ve done this for awhile, write a letter formally introducing yourself and attach your story ideas or a recent press release.

Contact them first by email, and follow that up with a paper copy of the letter and/or press release. If you offer anything unique or significant, be sure to cover that. Introduce yourself to the reporter and let him or her know your areas of expertise, should they ever want to do a news story covering a related topic. Keep the letter brief, courteous, and to the point.

To learn more about how to increase business at your auto repair shop, contact us. We understand the unique business of marketing automotive services to customers who just want to buy from someone they can trust. Sign up and start getting more leads today.

ByEric Lawton

How to Make Your Auto Repair Shop Approachable to Car Novices

 

For the unversed car owner, taking a vehicle in for repairs can be a somewhat daunting task. Auto repair shops are notorious for being “boy’s clubs” where the answers you get are loaded with industry jargon that is not only meaningless to the novice but also intimidating. Shop owners set on maintaining that status quo in their businesses risk missing out on valuable business growth opportunities.

What do Car Novices Want?

Car novices value an attentive, non-judgmental attitude as well as a sense of humor. Translate these findings into your auto repair marketing.

  • Chat on social media. Facebook ads that target car novices can pay big dividends. When a consumer feels comfortable enough to ask you questions via your Facebook page or Twitter channel, you have the chance to be attentive and engaging in a humble and humorous manner.
  • Tweak your website. Emphasize with your site’s brand messaging that there is no such thing as a stupid question. While automotive hobbyists may roll their eyes at your explanations of a timing belt’s function, they nevertheless scroll down to the more advanced tutorials. The novice who may feel embarrassed about not knowing that information will appreciate your back-to-basics approach.
  • Court the Yelp! review. The easiest marketing tool for your auto shop is a bevy of positive reviews left by happy customers. Having a sign in your waiting room that encourages these reviews is easy to put together. Another great tool is the post-repair follow-up call. Take the time to chat with your customer for a few minutes to ensure that the vehicle is working well and everything is in order. Doing so makes a great impression but also effortlessly propels the customer to leave the review if he or she has not already done so.

Build Trust Through Your Auto Repair Marketing

Draw attention to the fact that your shop has invested time, money, and effort to meet the rules put in place by governing bodies and rating organizations in the automotive field. Certifications and professional affiliations are a must. Case in point is a RepairPal certification that quickly helps you to differentiate yourself from others in your field. Contact us to get started today!

 

ByEric Lawton

Auto Repair Marketing That Takes a Stand & Demonstrates Authority

Talk to five different marketing pros, and you get five different answers about the ideal auto repair marketing campaign. Some are big social media fans, while others swear by upgrading a shop’s signage. Other suggestions may include an overhaul of your waiting area, a uniform phone protocol, or an investment in technician training and shop certifications, such as the coveted RepairPal-Certified designation. In fact, they are all correct.

Stand up and Be Heard

That said, there is one marketing approach that you may not yet have attempted, although it incorporates some of the earlier suggestions. Take a stand on an issue that matters to your customers and tends to be moderately divisive. In the field of auto body repair, restorations, and even maintenance, you will likely find that the use of aftermarket parts is one such issue.

Aftermarket vs. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Parts

We want to make it clear from the start that there is no universal right or wrong answer. Here are  a few things to consider:

  • Price Point: Aftermarket parts are cheaper than OEM items. Passing the savings along to the consumer is a good marketing point.
  • Quality: Although there are plenty of great aftermarket part manufacturers, there are also some questionable ones out there. Being an industry insider puts you in an excellent position to discuss this topic with authority.
  • Fit: Needless to say, OEM parts fit perfectly. The generic equivalent may suit a broad range of vehicles but may need minor to major alterations. Even then, it may not perform as well as an original piece.

Incorporating a Stand in Your Auto Repair Marketing

Remember that you do not have to take a hard stance on this discussion. Instead, you should position yourself as the friendly neighborhood mechanic who knows the ins and outs of the topic. Since insurance companies generally only pay for aftermarket parts unless the use of OEM pieces is necessary, explain to customers that in some situations the difference is negligible. Batteries and similar items are good examples.

Do so via podcasts, blogs, or vlogs you post to your website and social media channels. From there, get ready to interact with folks on both sides of the issue.

Remember that a RepairPal certification presents you as a trustworthy authority in the field. If you do not have one, contact us today to get started on the process.

ByEric Lawton

How to Improve Customer Loyalty at Your Auto Repair Shop

Customer loyalty is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of increasing business at your auto repair shop. When customers are loyal to your shop, they not only come to you for any repairs they need, but they also refer their friends, family, and neighbors to your shop as well.

Here are a few things you can do today to help improve customer loyalty and foster stronger relationships with your customer base:

Use analytics to understand your customers.

There are plenty of tools available to help you better understand your customer base. By doing so, you can be more strategic in how you market your shop to new and existing customers.

Google’s free analytics tools can help you get a better sense for who is visiting your website and what they’re interested in through their “Demographics and Interests” tool.

Similarly, customer relationship management (CRM) tools can help you grow your customer base by tracking and analyzing their behaviors on your website and their interactions with your team.

Many types of business software being utilized by auto repair shops today have CRM and analytics built-in; it’s just a matter of learning how to use them.

Make bold marketing moves, and raise your prices to cover the additional costs.

A 2% price increase across the board will not scare off your loyal customers, especially if you are already offering stellar service and fair prices.

With that extra revenue, you can create a strategic marketing plan to solidify those relationships and attract new customers within the demographic you already serve. A detailed marketing plan that includes some of those exciting ideas you’ve been kicking around will give your staff a confidence boost and re-energize their enthusiasm for the job.

Treat your existing customer base like a gold mine.

Appreciating the customers you have is the best way to create opportunities for growth in your business and improve customer loyalty. It’s always less expensive to keep a current customer than it is to gain a new one.

So, what if each of your current loyal customers spent just 20% more with you next quarter than they did last?

Commit to treating your customers like royalty. Find out what they want by talking with them. Make sure your service is up to par by asking them about their experience. Taking care of your customers will help you fire up the word-of-mouth engines that will give your marketing campaigns the ultimate boost.

Exceeding customer expectations creates great relationships that lead to more business. Whether through positive word-of-mouth or repeat visits, having a loyal customer base is crucial to your auto repair shop’s health and well-being. To learn more about how to increase business at your auto repair shop, contact us today.

ByEric Lawton

RepairPal’s ASE Master Automobile Technician of the Year Winner is Gary Sharits

Each year, RepairPal chooses one of our talented automobile technicians to receive the RepairPal ASE Master Automobile Technician of the Year distinction.

This year, we are pleased to recognize Gary Sharits as the 2016 winner.

Gary Sharits is an important member of the RepairPal Certified Shop Network. He is employed by Christian Brothers Automotive, owned by Larry and Cindy Giannone, in Land O’ Lakes, Florida. We chose Gary as the winner because of his outstanding performance on ASE tests, in addition to other RepairPal criteria.

Winners of the RepairPal ASE Master Automobile Technician of the Year award must be employed by a RepairPal shop in good standing. They actively participate in professional development, have a stable career in the automobile field, and have established themselves as a leader in their chosen profession. Winners score high on ASE Master Certification and recertification, and are respected instructors who are willing to share their knowledge with others.

Christian Brothers Automotive lives up to the RepairPal Certified status regulations and offers experienced and trustworthy mechanics that use high-quality parts, offer top-notch work, and charge a fair price. RepairPal Certified shops must pass a rigorous application process administered by ASE Certified Technicians who have worked at and owned auto service companies.

Customers who understand the level of expertise and security offered by RepairPal Certified shops seek out these businesses for the best possible outcome when they need a repair or routine service for their vehicle.

Gary will be recognized at the 2016 ASE Technician Awards banquet held at the Embassy Suites-Concord in Concord, North Carolina on Wednesday, November 16. A Welcome Reception will be held on November 15. Gary’s airfare, hotel stay, and meals will be covered by RepairPal.

About 50 other technicians from all over the United States will also receive awards from various sponsor companies at the banquet. At the 2015 banquet, 46 technicians were honored. In addition to award winners and their guests, corporate award sponsors, the ASE Board of Governors, certain ASE staff members, and various industry guests will be in attendance.

For more information on the 2016 ASE Technician Awards or for details about the RepairPal program, please contact us.

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