Last week we discussed some strategies and tactics you can use to build long lasting relationships with your auto customers. When you’re spending time handling customers in the store, making sure you offer the best variety of products and services, and getting “grimy” with the vehicles in the garage, it’s no wonder running an efficient auto repair shop is hard work.
Whether you use an official customer loyalty program or simply keep your customers coming back for more with your top notch customer service, establishing that consistent customer base is invaluable to your business. When your goal is business growth, however, “resting on your laurels” – your established core customers – is an easy temptation to fall into but is not sustainable long-term. The second and equally important part of the equation is spreading the love to bring in new customers and then show them your best so they will join your fan club as well.
PART 2 – Attracting new faces.
It used to be commonplace for consumers to find local auto repair shops through the phonebook or simply by asking a friend. The idea remains the same, but now consumers get their information largely online. Whether they do a search online to find the closest shops, seek suggestions on social media or look through an online consumer review site to find the highest ranked shop nearby, the modern consumer is exploring and comparing his or her options.
In part 1, we mentioned claiming any online presences, such as review sites and social media. Maintaining and monitoring these websites not only helps you build relationships with current customers but it puts your shop ahead of the pack when consumers are searching for an auto repair option, whether they are new to the area and looking for the first time, or they are have a reason to want a new experience.
Because in auto repair, trustworthiness is key, word of mouth holds serious weight when a prospective customer is considering doing business with you. When you focus on being a great business with outstanding customer service, your customers are likely to pass on the good word. It may seem daunting that such a huge factor in new business is out of your hands, but you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing everything you can to be the kind of business worth passing on to friends and family. Want to give word of mouth a boost? Consider a two-for one deal, or a discount for referring new business. You can encourage current customers by offering loyalty and referral programs such as $5 off their next oil change when they bring a new customer to you.
A creative way to bring new consumers into your business is to hold or participate in local events. Even if it’s just once a year this will increase your recognition in the community and foster goodwill to your business. For example:
- Sponsor a team at the local school or rec league to increase brand awareness and get your business on the minds of families that are potential customers.
- Partner with a non-profit that works locally to show that you value your community and are committed to giving back as a part of it.
- Hold informational sessions related to auto maintenance, such as how to ‘winterize’ your vehicle or how to protect your car during heat waves.
To garner awareness in your community have a healthy mix of marketing activities. The goal is to meet your new clients where they’re at, wherever they’re looking for you, using tools like your marketing channels to the discounts and offers you provide.
Give them a reason to come check you out, and make it as easy as possible to do so!
- Direct Mail – Focus direct mail marketing efforts on new people in the area who will be looking for somewhere to take their vehicles in the future.
- Online – Keep customers up to date with what you’re doing by using digital media to connect with them. Up-to-date information on your website and social media pages is essential. As people will continually check your website when looking for auto repair you can continually have a promotion featured there.
- Coupons – Consistent, valuable offers keep happy customers coming back and attract new customers throughout the year.
Most importantly, be sure to integrate all of these activities so you’re always offering relevant material to consumers. Remember the goal? Convince customers you’re knowledgeable and trustworthy. Monitor all of your marketing activity and continually tweak and improve so you reach your optimal effectiveness.
How have you found success attracting new customers? Do you have any more advice for growing your auto repair business?