Having a successful auto repair shop doesn’t mean sinking a ton of money into marketing and advertising efforts. Rather, employ methods that attract the right customer, which is the repeat customer.
If you own an auto repair shop then you probably have one goal in mind – to pack it with cars and customers. To accomplish this you have likely sunk a lot of money into various marketing strategies, yet nothing seems to work. Possibly customers have responded to some of your efforts, such as offering a free or low-cost oil change, but they never came back for anything else. So they’ve taken your oil for virtually no money and another auto repair shop or auto technician got the big business of installing new brakes, new belts or repairing the alternator.
It is likely that the poor results you received from your past marketing efforts have made you think that there is no strategy that is going to work. Countless direct marketing and advertising mailers, flyers, postcards and emails have gone out to thousands of people and for the most part the only return you received were a few people showing up in your auto repair shop for an oil change. Why keep trying?
The Right Customer
Marketing does work, however, you need to employ the right strategy to reach the right customers. Many of the marketing and advertising strategies that most auto repair shops use bring in ‘bottom feeders’ customers. These customers are impossible to up-sell to, which means that your shop and your technicians are busy providing services to customers who have no intention of spending any additional money on their car in your shop.
“Sending out emails, flyers, post cards and letters is a common way to market for auto repair shops. It’s somewhat simple, low-cost and it doesn’t take up a whole bunch of time,” explains Ron Ipach, owner of CinRon Marketing. “However, the way this method is usually executed – by using a mailing list that includes any and every one in your area – often renders it ineffective.” Targeting the wrong customer, which makes it impossible for you to grow your auto repair shop into the large business you are dreaming it will eventually become.
Spending all of your energy going after new customers is futile and will not fill your auto repair shop with cars. Have you ever noticed how many customers are coming into your shop as a result of your direct mail campaign? Most likely the few that do show up will take advantage of whatever special you are offering and then you will likely never see them again.
Ipach, who has helped over 5000 auto repair shops turn their struggling business around, recommends focusing on the customers that have actually already spent their money in your garage. “The ability to resell to your existing and past customers is what will make your auto repair shop shine,” says Ipach. Those customers that know you, like you and were pleased with your service are the ones that will lead you to success.
“When you do market to your current customers, you are going to see a much higher response to your advertising,” Ipach explains. An example that Ipach uses with his auto repair clients is the following: A group or marriage coupon mailing can cost you around $500 for each advertisement. If a $500 ad brings in 10 new customers, then each customer cost $50. Throw out the three bottom-feeders and seven new customers now cost $71.43 each. You can see how expensive it is to bring in a new customer. You have to make that money back somewhere so in essence, you subtract that $71.43 from their invoice and there goes all your profit.
However, Ipach warns that bringing in 10 new customers with a mailer is ambitious. More likely, you will draw two or three people into your shop, so your costs are double and triple that $71.43.
Focus on the customers that have already been in your auto repair shop before spending your time and money on new people.