Auto Repair Businesses: 5 Do’s and Don’ts for your marketing

Small Business Advice 27 Mar, 2018

Here’s a five-minute read for anyone managing an NZ Automotive Repair Business that’s looking to sharpen their marketing tools. We’ve put together some best practices for online marketing, tips for attracting new customers and some great Facebook groups to join for support.

How we help NZ Automotive Businesses bring in an extra $8,000 per month

✅ Experiment with online advertising

⛔️ Buy into expensive, traditional media unless you’re happy with its ROI

Many auto repair businesses fall into the trap of spending too much for their marketing. If you’re guilty of running repeat newspaper, magazine, mailbox or radio ads and you’re not sure if they’ve brought in any new customers, it’s due time to think about online advertising and how it could be far more effective for reaching your target market.

In return for your money, your marketing spend should bring your business some tangible results. This is where your ROI (return on investment) calculation comes in. As a workshop, it makes sense to consider bookings as the “return” on your investment. You want more people booking in at your workshop as a result of seeing your ads and you want it to cost as little as possible.

Unless you have a system in place for tracking where your customers come from already, it’s very difficult to calculate the ROI for traditional marketing. Consider this: old-school media (newspapers, magazines, billboards etc) all promote themselves online. Online marketing is now a fundamental part of owning any business, so make sure your workshop isn’t being held back by not competing in this space. Which leads us on to the next point…

✅ Approach marketing with a test, measure, compare, repeat method

⛔️ Put money into your marketing without a way to measure its effectiveness

For those of us that aren’t as tech-savvy as we’d like to be, one way to track where your new customers are coming from a social media ad is to state that in order to get a special offer, all they have to do is “mention this ad” when booking in. Then, the customer will state where they have seen the ad. When taking over-the-phone bookings, it pays to make sure you know the answer to these two questions: have you been here before and how did you hear about us? If not, ask your customers.

Being sure about this data is key to improving your campaigns in the future.

✅ Try to make your marketing customer-centric

⛔️ Talk about your business more than your potential customer’s needs

Let’s look at two made-up headlines for an ad:

1. “Paraparaumu’s local mechanic since 1989”
2. “Fair pricing, fast service & complimentary rides before and after we work on your car.”

The first headline is business-centric. It might get customers thinking that this particular workshop must be doing something right, because they’ve been in business for so long. While this isn’t a terrible approach, the ad talks about the business, rather than directly talking to the customer.

automotive business customers

The second headline is customer-centric. The ad informs potential customers about their services, appeals to people that feel that they’ve been over-charged in the past and offers customers something they truly want from their mechanic: a ride to and from the workshop.

Customer-centric marketing is all about the, customer, their needs and how you can help them. When thinking about your marketing, it pays to keep asking yourself the following questions:

Who am I talking to?

How do I go the extra mile to meet their needs?

What is their mechanic not doing for them?

What do they actually want to know about my business?

✅ Test different referral and loyalty programmes for the most cost-effective

⛔️ Neglect existing customers in order to attract new ones

Referral programmes (getting your existing customers to refer their friends and family) and loyalty programmes (giving returning / loyal customers a good reason to come back to your workshop) can help automotive businesses thrive. Putting all of your marketing efforts into attracting new customers out of thin air is a common mistake made by automotive businesses. The bottom line is this: You already have customers. So, use them to your advantage to attract other customers and make sure they have good reason to come back to you.

Here are some easy-to-establish and effective schemes used by a few of our workshops

Reward/loyalty schemes

Free WOF with a service for returning customers

$20 off your next invoice over $100

$50 off your fifth visit

Referral schemes

Refer your friend, get $10 off your next WOF and they’ll get $20 off their first invoice.

✅ Network and learn basic online marketing skills

⛔️ Jump-the-gun with your online advertising

Having a crack at online advertising without the basic skills can prevent it from becoming more effective than traditional advertising. There are hundreds of resources online for picking up the ropes of social media advertising, Google ad Words and email marketing. Invest a little time into a course, browse some youtube videos or check out some popular marketing blogs. There’s also a fantastic online community of small business owners on Facebook who are always happy to help others. Here are three Facebook groups relevant to NZ small businesses and the automotive industry to join and interact with.

Mechanics do it better

Under the hood with Rachel Sheldrick

New Zealand small business owners

So there you have it, 5 things to bear in mind when you hit a speed-bump with your workshop’s marketing. To make sure every workshop gets off on the right foot, we offer some free online marketing material and our search-engine optimisation means your business shows up in more Google searches. It costs nothing to accept Genoapay at your counter and there’s no integration needed.

Learn more about in-store payment plans for Automotive Businesses