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auto repair marketing tips

Driving Success: Marketing Tips for Auto Repair Shops

March 9, 2023
When you think about auto repair marketing, a short list of items likely jumps to mind. First, you’ll need an advertising campaign, social media posts and some rave reviews, but that’s just a start.

Marketing infiltrates every relationship and each step in your interactions with customers. As a result, having a marketing strategy that addresses every opportunity opens the door for you to attract and retain them.

So, what are the most effective auto repair shop marketing strategies and how do they grow your business? Truthfully, each one has its merits for building your brand and helping your auto repair company grow. 

While it may feel daunting to tackle each one, they all pay off when they work together to build momentum. Once you have a marketing plan in place, you’ll see the results and wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

Standing out with a strong online presence

Face it, more and more customers seek out small business services with a quick Google search than ever before. That includes auto repair, especially when they don’t have a regular auto shop.

To get on their radar, you’ll need to crack the secret code of search engine optimization (SEO). This requires understanding what words potential new customers type into a search engine compared to their placement and exact match on your website.

Therefore, it’s important to research website design and your competitors so you can rise to the top of a search. To create the ideal mix of content, you can follow the tips in this content optimization guide:

  • Find the right topics and keywords (the words used in frequent searches)
  • Throw in some related industry terms
  • Plant keywords in the right places and at the right frequency
  • Add visuals, like photos, icons, graphs and charts
  • Link to other industry sites
  • Go ‘deeper’ than your competition does
  • Add new content regularly

By adding keywords to your headlines, meta tags and introductions, you covertly lure more people into discovering your business. With local SEO done right, your Google business profile will be the first to pop up in a search.

Get social to boost your auto repair marketing

Photos and videos on social media give you a great opportunity to reflect your shop’s personality and willingness to help. By showing your talented staff solving problems, you reinforce that they can certainly take care of a customer’s next repair. 

Think of all the positive things you can share:

  • Happy customers
  • Friendly staff
  • Community programs you support
  • Your welcoming waiting room
  • Glowing reviews

Each time you share a customer’s smile or good review, it sends a message that other people rely on your shop. That’s social media marketing gold!

Always stay focused on why you’re posting information to your Instagram, Facebook or TikTok pages. Show your competence and professionalism without going over the top with dance numbers or gags. Never push the hard sell on a product; instead, offer to help a customer get ready for a road trip or ensure they keep their family safe.

And just like the website, update your social media feeds several times a week. That will remind people you’re available when they need you most.

Now, they’ve found your website!

Above all, you need to do more than list your services and contact information. For starters, you have to home in on exactly what customers want:

  • A chance to ask questions to narrow down what’s wrong with their car
  • Syncing their calendar with yours to book an appointment
  • Detailing each service in terms of time and expense

In short, treat your website like a menu rather than a series of essays about your history and level of customer service. You’ll impress customers by walking the walk rather than talking the talk.

Having a professional and user-friendly website sets the tone before a new customer even arrives at your auto shop. They will trust that you are knowledgeable and will get them back on the road again soon.

Generating great reviews

auto repair reviews tool

Once a customer has a good experience, why not have them tell others about it? Most people check online reviews before buying a product or service but only 16 percent post positive reviews about automotive repair.

You can buck this trend by inviting satisfied current customers to talk about their experiences with your auto repair business. Rather than asking verbally, embed it in the digital messages you already send them.

This helpful follow-up service boosts your auto repair marketing efforts by:

  • Offering multiple links at the click of an icon
  • Inviting them to choose between Google, Facebook, Yelp and other review sites
  • Customizing the information with your brand and even a photo of your team

Ideally, you make it easy and personal so they can see the technician who fixed their car and then thank them publicly.

Leveraging customer referrals

While online reviews work well, don’t forget the power of a personal referral. Word-of-mouth marketing has always boosted auto repair shops’ clientele. 

First, identify your most loyal customers and offer them rewards for bringing you new business. This means leveraging the data within your business so you know who will serve as your best ambassadors. 

Once you track the number of visits or dollars spent, you can personalize messages with reminders just for them. A rewards and referral program allows you to create your own customer loyalty program, thanking people with a free oil change or tire rotation.

Everyone likes to get things for free, especially when you’re already friendly with them.

Hosting auto repair marketing events and promotions

For many people, auto repair service is a secret world behind a wall between them and the front counter. By inviting customers behind that curtain, you can make them feel like insiders to an exclusive club.

Successful shops love to show off their bays and the work that goes on inside them. Using their customer data, they set up special days for customers:

  • To measure the torque of their cars
  • Who may wish to work in the auto repair industry one day
  • Who want classes and workshops so they feel more confident about repair decisions

Not only do they demonstrate transparency, but these events also build a sense of community between you and your customers. 

You can also get their attention with special promotions beyond discounts on your services. For example, these promotions have worked well for auto repair shops:

  • Organizing seasonal toy drives
  • Serving as a stop on a car rally
  • Hosting a coloring contest
  • Offering a draw prize for a related or adjacent business

Don’t be shy about inviting people to attend or participate in your events. First, plan them at regular intervals throughout the year so you can include them in your social media schedule.

Add invitations to all your emails and text messages to customers, while placing notices visibly on your website. You may also wish to send out flyers or ask your suppliers and customers to spread the word.

Make it fun so people will want to come out and play. That also works well for your brand as a helpful neighbor.

Building partnerships

When your suppliers and other industry peers do well, you create a community that supports drivers and car owners. By working together, you can help each other by driving business between your locations.

Look around you. What other local business owner can you collaborate with so you both win? Auto repair shops share local customers with gas stations, tire shops and other specialty services, like transmissions.

It makes sense to cross-promote your services to reach new customers. Here’s how to get started: 

  • Choose reputable businesses with similar goals and values
  • Identify synergies that complement each other’s work
  • Put your arrangement in writing

Once you’ve run a few shared events or promotions, assess what worked and how to improve the marketing plan for next time. Make sure the work is divided evenly and any frustrations get worked out before they build up and erode the partnership.

Before long, you should all be welcoming new business from each other’s customer base.

Keeping customers engaged via auto repair shop marketing

Customers will seek out immediate help during a crisis, but you don’t want to run an emergency department every hour. Instead, educate customers so they value ongoing maintenance and don’t end up stranded at the side of the road. 

This approach is fostered by ongoing communication and outreach to remind customers of recommended services and other follow-ups. The beauty of a digital vehicle inspection is its power to customize your message to them.

While mass marketing will tell customers about a windshield wiper sale, a personalized message arising from a DVI:

  • Shows you took down their concerns during a previous visit
  • Impresses them with photos and videos
  • Reflects your findings and explains why need their specific vehicle needs service

When you offer exceptional customer service right from that initial social media post, this is just another step in the journey. 

You can create more positive experiences for customers with these simple tips:

  • Listen closely while they explain their issue
  • Clearly explain the repairs and update them of any changes
  • Avoid confusing jargon
  • Show them photos or videos so they see the problem, then the solution
  • Inspect the full vehicle for issues
  • Return the vehicle as clean as when it came in (or cleaner!) 
  • Check in after a repair to see if everything is working properly

If you see a slow day ahead, that’s the perfect time to offer to take care of that outstanding repair. Maybe the customer couldn’t afford it last time, but is ready to take care of it now.

Using your customer data, you can go back in and find vehicles with potential work that was identified in their inspection process. Now, you can follow up on deferred or declined work and look like a hero.

Auto repair marketing in a nutshell

As a diligent auto repair shop owner, you may have already started using some of these practices to fuel your shop’s growth. However, putting them all together provides even more visibility so customers will immediately think of your shop next time.

Marketing, like auto service, is an ongoing job that keeps evolving. A generation ago, people turned to their friends for recommendations in person; now, they seek the advice of strangers online. That’s why you need to stay on top of your online presence with solid digital marketing, website design and good reviews.

You will still find value in those in-person connections of getting customer referrals, hosting events and engaging customers between appointments. By tapping into related businesses via partnerships, you build a network that will reinforce brand awareness and that your shop is the place to go for repairs.

These auto repair marketing strategies tie into your DVI and customer data, so it pays off to work with partners like Autoflow to make the most of every repair. That way, you set up your customers and yourself for driving success. 

Lois Tuffin

Lois Tuffin

Automotive freelancer

Lois Tuffin