Category Archive Auto Shop Tips

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Don’t Waste Your Money – 4 Tips to Profitable Advertising

Much of the advertising we see is wasteful. It doesn’t return a profit on the money spent for it. Why? Because it repels people.

For example, how often do you mute the TV when commercials come on? How often do you throw junk mail in the trash without reading it?  If you’re like most people, you’ve developed the habit of ignoring advertising. Your customers (and potential customers) also ignore advertising — including yours.

Your advertising messages have to cut through all that negative inertia. Maybe you already know that, but still can’t figure out why your advertising does so poorly. Here’s why: Effective advertising does not repel people, it attracts them. It’s like dating. If you want to impress the other person, you will talk about them, not about yourself.

That’s enough theory; let’s get specific. Rather than advertising how great your shop is, how nice its equipment is and how wonderful your people are, advertise like this instead:

  • Name specific problems that certain car models have. Don’t give the solution, just talk about the problem and its symptoms. Then offer to fix it for them.
  • Name specific situations car owners find themselves in, like these:
    • “Going on vacation” specials: Check the car over for safety and reliability issues, for a fee.
    • “Back to school” inspections: Make sure the college student’s car will be in good shape so the parents don’t have to worry.
    • “Should I keep it or trade it in?” inspections: Don’t wait for customers to ask for your advice. Market the service as a package deal for a fee.
    • “Stay comfortable this summer” service: This is a more appealing name for an HVAC check and diagnosis. Include the freon and oil charges, if needed, all for one package price. A bunch of individual prices will turn customers off.

In summary, learning how to advertise effectively is like learning how to fix cars. The more you learn, the easier it gets, the fewer mistakes you make, and the more money you earn.

mm Byshopmarketing

Why Training Will Help You Get and Keep Skilled Techs

Ask a typical shop owner what the best way to keep techs loyal is, and the most common answer will be “money.” But this isn’t correct — it’s been proven wrong countless times in other industries.

Numerous studies have been conducted to learn what motivates employees. When asked to list the 10 things most important to their workers, managers almost always put money, commissions and bonuses at the top of the list. But when employees were asked, they placed money a lot lower.

What will keep techs loyal to you?

If you’ve studied management or psychology, you know that workers often say these things are more important than money:

1) They want to feel respected by their managers.

2) They want to feel important to the company they work for.

3) They want to feel like their work is meaningful — that it makes life better for somebody.

When you provide ongoing training, you help meet those needs. But shops that ignore their techs and treat them as disposable will find their technician turnover rate is very high, and very costly.

Benefits of training techs

By raising the skill level of all your techs, your shop will get more work done more efficiently, and with fewer cases of misdiagnosis. You make more money like that, and it reduces your stress level.

This will also let you expand your opportunities to capture more business. For example, some techs don’t feel comfortable with wheel alignments, perhaps because of all the math involved. Train them well, increase the number who can do alignments, and you’ll probably find more legitimate reasons to recommend alignments to your customers. This applies to other types of repair jobs, as well.

In addition, your techs will feel more confident in recommending other work. Leave them at their present skill levels, though, and they won’t let you know about those other potential sales. That’s simply human nature.

Continually training techs will encourage them to keep working for you. Think about it: Most independent shops don’t provide structured, formal ongoing training. If you do, then you’ll have an advantage in attracting and retaining the best techs in your area.

Reducing tech turnover reduces inefficiency, mistakes and lost sales that happen every time you spend time looking for new techs to hire.

Training costs next to nothing

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Many shop owners rose from the ranks of skilled technicians, as perhaps you did. So, it can be as simple as sharing your knowledge and experience. Here are some inexpensive (and maybe fun) ways to train your techs.

  • Collect online articles that expand on weak areas your techs seem to have. Somebody can’t get air conditioning systems charged to just the right level? Give him three articles to read, then go over the material with all your techs.
  • Collect trade journal articles on subjects that seem to come up regularly. Comebacks on wheel alignments or wheel balances? Get some material together. Drivability misdiagnoses are common. Build your tech library for them. Take it seriously.
  • Realize that some techs learn better by reading or by doing things hands-on, rather than by being lectured. Don’t lecture; lead instead.
  • Invite your local trade school teachers to deliver classes to your techs on advanced subjects, maybe once or twice monthly. Pay them their nominal fee.
  • Have a weekly “lunch and learn” for your training sessions. Spring for pizza or sandwiches so you can concentrate on teaching. Don’t take calls during that hour. Encourage note-taking. Make your techs realize that their skills are valuable to your shop’s financial health.
  • Each tech seems to know things the others don’t. Consider having techs take turns sharing their knowledge on their favorite subject with their peers. They might feel awkward at first, but it will soon become fun as everybody sees the value. Remember, everyone wants to feel important at work — it builds morale.

Lose the old-fashioned attitude that if you’re training a tech, it means they’re in trouble or not as good as the others. The more your techs know, the more valuable they’ll be to you, and to your team.

Which subjects should you train in?

As your techs take their ASE tests, use their lower-scoring areas as guidelines on what training they need. Track comeback patterns in your shop. The fewer mistakes that get made, the more profit for you.

Here’s one method: Get an artist’s easel from your local art supply store. Buy a pad of 24-by-24-inch sketching paper for the easel and several colored markers. That’s your visual aid. When the class is done, let your students keep the pages most important to them.

You can even keep the easel set up in your waiting room. When you have a diagnosis to discuss with a customer, draw it out on the sketch paper, then give the customer the page. This one tool can help you build trust and credibility with both your customers and your techs.

mm Byshopmarketing

Webinar: Social Media Marketing for Auto Repair Shops

Use Social Media to Improve Customer Service and Increase Car Count to your Auto Repair Shop


Thank you to all those who attended this live webinar with RepairPal and Main Street Hub. We are looking forward to doing another collaboration later this year. If you missed this webinar, don’t worry. You can click the image above to view the recording.

During this webinar you will meet Emma Vaughn of Main Street Hub and Kathleen Long, VP/GM of the RepairPal Shop Network. They will help auto repair shops, like yours, get more word-of-mouth and referrals on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, and RepairPal. 

Emma and Kathleen teach shop owners, like you, how to stop wasting time on social media and see positive, bankable results from your efforts.

In this 1-hour webinar recording, you’ll discover:
1. Simple ways to get your customers talking about you (increase word-of-mouth)
2. How to build communication channels online (website and other directories)
3. What ads have showed us on how to serve your customers
4. How to post on social media to boost your customer service and increase testimonials

Emma Vaughn leads Main Street Hub’s local business outreach on the west coast. She has cultivated partnerships with industry leaders such as SCORE Los Angeles, SBA, California Restaurant Association, Long Beach SBDC, and various chambers of commerce. Emma hosts educational workshops, both live and online, to help small businesses get more word-of-mouth and referrals on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, & Instagram. Through her position, she has had the opportunity to train thousands of companies.
Kathleen Long is the VP/GM of the Shop Network at RepairPal. Over the course of her career, Kathleen Long has provided thousands of practical solutions to small businesses to help them grow and thrive. Kathleen has also built and developed world class, award-winning sales, success and support teams, experiences and strategies. Kathleen delights equally in mentoring and developing employees, and has enjoyed watching many achieve great success. Kathleen has a degree in General Studies and Philosophy from the University of Nevada Reno and is an alumni of Women Unlimited’s Lead program.

Not RepairPal Certified yet? Please fill out the form on this page to learn more about the advantages of being RepairPal Certified!

Are you interested in writing for the RepairPal blog, “Modern Shop Owner”? Please contact us at


ByEric Lawton

3 Ways Dynamic Digital Signage Can Impress Auto Repair Customers

There are plenty of ways to market your auto repair business to attract new customers, but what are you doing to “wow” your customers once they’re there?

You may have a great waiting room and an attentive staff, but if you’re not communicating with the customers while they’re in your shop, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. By utilizing dynamic digital signage, you can demonstrate what makes your business truly special and leave a lasting impression with your customers.

What is Dynamic Digital Signage?

Have you noticed that, more and more, chain gas stations are outfitting their pumps with small TV screens that play advertisements or informative videos as soon as you start pumping gas? You are a somewhat captive audience, and the owners of these businesses understand that now is an excellent time to appeal to your thirst, hunger, or need to clean up your vehicle.

Now consider how you can translate this strategy into your auto repair marketing efforts.

How Can This Technology Help Me Find New Auto Repair Customers?

The ISA has published a white paper that shows a direct correlation between dynamic digital signage and the ability to affect consumer behavior. Doing so is possible with three simple steps:

1. Target your messaging in real time.

With a dynamic digital sign, you can market directly to the consumer in need of auto repair services in real time. While other signage products help you to cast your net wide, this medium allows you a more narrow and targeted appeal.

Is your lobby full of busy moms? Tailor your video content so that it resonates with them! Have you been receiving a lot of questions about pricing, service practices, or maintenance tips? Display videos that touch on these subjects to both entertain and inform your customers.

2. Present the audience with a problem to which you have the solution.

High auto repair costs, questionable industry practices and ethics, and similar problems make finding a reliable auto repair shop difficult. Position your brand as the antithesis, and show how you save the customer money with preferred pricing, loyalty programs, and top-notch service.

3. Play up your stellar reputation.

Folks are afraid of being taken advantage of when they need auto repair work done. Put your customers’ minds at ease by showing off your industry certifications, such as the one you receive from RepairPal. Include clips of your team members talking about what they do or interviews with happy customers to further establish your credibility.

Not RepairPal certified yet? Contact us to learn more about the advantages of a RepairPal certification!

ByEric Lawton

The Benefits of Direct Mail in Your Auto Repair Marketing Strategy

Flyer distribution, by hand or direct mail, can often yield more benefits for your auto repair marketing strategy than an expensive online, TV, or radio campaign—especially when it comes to geographical targeting and ROI. Though TV, radio, and web marketing are all important and effective forms of advertising, they’re not the only ones you should consider.

When you hire someone to distribute flyers by hand or send them out via direct mail, your advertising is targeted to the geographical area of your choosing. You know better than anyone where your best customers live, and this is an easy way to reach them. You can also schedule marketing campaigns around events of local significance.

Additionally, you know who your local competitors are. If they’re not using direct mail or flyers, you will have an edge over them, no matter what other forms of advertising they use. Direct mail is one of the most effective forms of advertising there is, and the truth is, it always has been.

According to recent statistics, most people scan the pieces of mail they get each day. They’re curious about what’s in their physical mailbox, which gives your flyer or direct mail advertisement a better chance of being noticed and acted upon.

Currently, the direct mail response rate per household is 3.7%. In comparison, the current response rate for mobile is .2%, email is .1%, social media is .1%, and web display is .02%. Further, the average ROI of a direct mail campaign is 18-20%.

There are other benefits too:

  1. The recipient gets a tangible reminder of your business offerings. It lists all the pertinent information they need to make contact with you or buy from you. They don’t have to scribble down something they hear on the radio or catch a TV commercial.
  2. Direct mail helps to develop a more trustworthy business profile in the minds of local customers. It’s an older form of marketing. People often trust it more than online, TV, or radio marketing.
  3. Advertising a really good promotional deal or coupon via direct mail is a great way to ensure your message gets into the hands of someone in need of auto repair. These types of flyers often get passed on to a friends or family members who are ready to shop, even if the direct mail recipient isn’t.

Contact us today at RepairPal. We can help you market your business, and establish trust and local industry leadership at the same time.

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