The goal for any business, including your auto repair business, is to increase profits regularly. There are really only three ways to do this: increase prices, increase the frequency of transactions, or increase margins–or a combination of all three.
Finding the right mix is a difficult process for every business. Increasing prices and margins are both effective ways that many large, established companies use to boost profits, and they should be considered from time to time. However, they can also have negative effects on your business.
When you raise prices, you run the risk of driving away loyal customers. Increasing margins can often mean laying off employees, increasing workload, or cutting hours–all of which can take a toll on morale. Since all of these steps should be seen as last resorts, let’s look at increasing transactions as a more palatable first step. Here are three things you can do right now to help you attract more customers to your auto repair business.
Even if you have competitive prices, a spotless shop, highly trained employees, a perfect location, and a flawless reputation, if people don’t know who you are, you might still struggle with stagnant or disappointing growth. A quick and easy solution to this is to start gaining some exposure by getting involved in the local community.
Consider some of these ideas:
- Participate in your town’s 4th of July parade.
- Become a member of the local chamber of commerce.
- Write a monthly or quarterly article for your local paper(s) on how to best maintain your car in that time of year.
- Offer free clinics on car maintenance at your shop, and include popcorn or hot dogs and ice cream for local families.
- Offer to teach kids in the local schools and scout troops some basic auto maintenance skills.
- If you can afford it, invite a prominent sports figure to sign autographs.
- Have an antique car show at your shop.
All of these ideas will help increase your exposure and recognition, thus driving more customers to your business.
Every customer you deal with has plenty of other friends and family who they would be happy to refer. Obviously, you need to make sure your service is good enough for them to do so, but most importantly, you need to ASK! Most people don’t think to refer friends and family to a business, but that doesn’t mean that aren’t willing to. Make it a practice to mention the importance of referrals to every client. You’ll quickly start seeing new customers come through the door.
Loads of other service providers have clients who need your services. Everyone has car problems, and people are always looking for a reputable auto repair shop to take their business to. Spend some time brainstorming local businesses that deal with clients like yours. Here are a few examples:
- car wash or detail businesses
- non-service gas stations
- auto body or auto glass repair shops
- car stereo and alarm installation shops
- towing companies
Reach out to them with a partnership proposal that offers them a 1 to 5 percent commission or a finder’s fee for everyone they send your way. With luck, you may even find a business that will agree to refer business mutually to one another, in lieu of any monetary incentives.