Word-of-Mouth Isn't All It's Cracked up To Be
If you're like many diesel repair shop owners, you probably rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertising as part of your overall marketing strategy. But did you know there are serious disadvantages to choosing this as your main method? To fully get the word out to both existing and potential customers, you want to make sure you have a well-rounded marketing message and strategy. You might choose to use word of mouth as part of this overall strategy, but relying on this as your only or main mode of carrying your message to the public can seriously impact the number of customers you get and the profits you make.
What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing is pretty much what it sounds like—customers share their experiences in your shop with their friends and family, hopefully driving more business your way. This can happen organically, like when an extremely satisfied customer talks about the good experience they had at your shop, or how they saved you money on a repair, and their friends store this information away. If the friend ever needs a repair, then, they'll hopefully remember your customer raving about your shop and bring their business to you.
You can also guide the process through which word-of-mouth spreads. In the digital age we live in, many people go online to research repair shops when they need them. This often leads them to the review sections of various directory websites to find the shop that will provide them with the best service. This makes it important that positive reviews are shared on your behalf. You can encourage customers to leave a review after their service has been completed, which would then extend the reach of the recommendation to a much wider audience.
Essentially, if one of your customers talks about your business in some way, they're advertising for you. The word about your business ideally would then spread throughout a network of friends and family, driving customers into your shop without you having to do much about it at all. Sounds pretty great, right?
Reasons You Might Find Yourself Relying on Word-of-Mouth
The number one reason you might want to use word-of-mouth marketing as your primary mode of spreading the the word is its cost friendly nature. Letting your customers talk to one another about your shop doesn't cost you anything, so you don't have to set aside nearly as much in your marketing budget.
Besides cost, it's also a time-friendly marketing solution. Except for perhaps encouraging your customers to leave a review or share their experiences, it doesn't take much of your precious time. The actual action is left up to your customer. This makes it an attractive option for many diesel repair shop owners.
This method also exposes your shop to a network of people it might not have reached before. Depending on their circle of friends, family, and colleagues, your customers might know people that otherwise wouldn't have heard of your repair shop.
Problems with Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Despite the above reasons, there are some definite downfalls to relying on word of mouth as your main marketing strategy.
When you rely solely on your customers to spread the message about your shop, you give up control over the message you want to share with potential customers. Instead, you're counting on them to not only say positive things about your shop, but things that are in line with your brand and business goals. This is a lot to expect of customers. They could choose not to say anything about the repair at all, or they could say negative things and you'd have no way to respond. They could also say things that about your shop that are incorrect, leading to false expectation amongst potential customers. While obviously it's good to have customers talking about your shop, this reason alone should show you why it's dangerous to count on them as your main means of marketing.
Like we briefly mentioned, when you leave the handling of your marketing message to your customers, you have little opportunity to address and negative reviews or blatantly false statements. Hopefully this isn't a huge issue facing your shop, but it's definitely worth considering. One negative review can severely impact the overall impression people have of your repair shop. If the customer leaves negative reviews online, you at least have the chance to try and clear things up with them. This is basically impossible to do if they are simply having a conversation with friends or family.
Word-of-mouth might not operate as quickly as other means of marketing. Even if your customers rave about your service to everyone they see, they might not know people who have need of diesel engine repairs. Or they just might not need a repair for a while. Either way, the return on this strategy could be slow, and you probably won't see a big boom in business from it. You'd probably be better off by employing a strategy that allows you to more directly target people who are actually needing a diesel engine repair.
Similarly, word-of-mouth marketing has limited reach. You might encourage your customers to share their experiences, but traditional word-of-mouth is confined to the people they know and talk to. Online reviews can reach more people, but they still only reach people who are actively seeking out a repair shop, rather than being proactive about seeking customers.
One of the biggest drawbacks to word-of-mouth marketing is the fact that you can't really track its reach or success for your shop. You don't always know that the customer who came into your shop is there because of a referral from a friend of theirs or a review they read online. That makes it hard for you to be able to count on it as a viable source of profit, because you don't actually know how much money it's making you. Instead, you'd probably do better to rely on something you can track and repeat.
What to do Instead
Later posts in this series will focus on various things you can do to more effectively market your repair shop. In short, though, you want to ensure that you have an actual strategy and marketing goals in place. This can help you better understand where your profits are coming from and allow you to track which avenues are actually reaching your target customers. While this may take more time and cost you a little more money than just letting word of mouth do the work for you, in the end, you'll likely see better results. Stay tuned for more tips on ways to better market your diesel repair shop!
You can also increase your profits by changing the way you shop for parts. Take a look at our Repair Shop Value Program to learn how it can help you and your shop!