Repair Shop Advertising: Are You Doing it Right?
In our series overview, How Are You Marketing Your Diesel Repair Shop?, we talked a little bit about the differences between marketing and advertising. Essentially, marketing is the umbrella term that encompasses your entire brand strategy, and advertising is just one part of this. It's an important piece of the puzzle, though, and one that can be difficult to do correctly. But, when done right, can lead to profit growths for your business. You don't want to just rely on word of mouth as your advertising strategy. Instead, learn how to take control of getting the message out about your diesel repair shop and growing your profits.
So why do I need to advertise?
Advertising your repair shop can be a costly venture, and one where returns might be difficult to measure. So some business owners choose not to advertise at all. These are the businesses whose growth is limited. If you have an effective plan in place for your marketing and advertising, your cost should be defrayed by the increase in customers and profits you should see.
Advertising is all about getting your marketing message out. You need to make people aware of your shop, otherwise they may never actually show up to get repair work done. Instead, use several different channels to share with potential customers the quality services you provide, as well as any benefits or saving to them. What sets you apart from other repair shops?
If you're not advertising, or if you're only focusing on your existing customers, you might be missing out on opportunities to grow you customer base, sell different types of repair work, and ultimately bring in more business to your shop. This, in turn, should yield more profits. And who doesn't want to make more money?
What kinds of advertising could I try?
Quite a few advertising opportunities exist for your diesel repair shop. It might take a bit of experimentation to figure out what works the best for your business. It's something that will take a bit of work and oversight to tweak and make sure that your selected methods are working as expected, and you'll want to evaluate and reshape your approach based around what's working best. Read our earlier blog post for more information on selecting the best channels for your shop. Some ideas for advertising your repair shop could include:
This is one of the most popular ways to reach potential customers. As you might guess, direct mail goes directly to your target customer at home or at work. It includes things like postcards and fliers with your marketing message on it, usually in a catchy form that encourages them to read it rather than just throw it away. You might consider a coupon of some kind on a service to help draw them in. Just be aware of the amount of the discount, so that it doesn't eat into your profits too badly. But a bargain is a good way to bring people into your shop!
Email marketing is closely related to direct mail, in that you're reaching out to your potential customers directly. It's important that the email isn't just general information about your business, but includes something that pushes your customers to come to your shop. That could be a discount or a special promotion you're running for a limited time. If you choose to use email marketing, you'll need to make sure you're collecting email addresses from your customers, as well as those who request a quote. It would be beneficial to you to include a request a quote link on your website to collect email addresses from people who may not be current customers. Then you can use email to reach out to them as well, possibly turning them into future customers.
Billboards can be a costly investment, but with so much of the diesel market involved in highway travel, it can be a good way to reach your target customers as they travel through, particularly ones who may not be from the area but find themselves in need of repairs. Placement is key to billboard success. Make sure that your sign is somewhere drivers will see it, but close enough to your business that they remember you.
Advertising isn't all about send out materials, though. A big part of is just getting your shop's name out there in the community. One way to do that is to be involved in community events. You can sponsor different events, or host ones at your shop. Become involved with a local trade school, which has the added bonus of helping you find future employees. People like to patronize businesses who invest in the community. It's something that can really set you apart from other repair shops.
So much of advertising happens online now, so that's another avenue you might want to explore. Paid ads are a huge way to get your shop noticed on search results, as on Google they appear above the Google map and other search options. These ads should direct users to a specific service on your website, as well as encourage them to request a quote or contact your shop.
As part of your branding, you might want to include promotional materials with your company logo and contact information on them. These can include pens, magnets, key chains, as well as company t-shirts that your staff could wear after work hours. You could include these promotional materials in direct mail packages, bring them to events you host or sponsor, and just have them in your shop for customers to take with them. They'll help spread the word about your shop.
How do I know if my advertising is working?
Knowing if your money is being well-spent can be one of the most difficult aspects of advertising. Throwing cash at a strategy and just hoping that it works out isn't an effective business strategy. Instead, you need be sure to include ways to measure customer response to your advertising tactics.
First, make sure you have a baseline established. If your advertising materials are going to be promoting a specific service, make sure you know how many customers, on average, you typically have without the advertising. It also helps to have a targeted strategy. Try to advertise a specific service or benefit, rather than just your shop in general, to give yourself an easier thing to measure.
You also want to make sure you're including ways to track where your customers are coming from. With direct mail, you can include a coupon that will let you know. If you're utilizing a request a quote page on your website, you can include a "how did you hear about us?" field on the form.
Make sure that you're evaluating your sales both before and after your advertising, to give yourself the clearest picture of what is happening, and whether it might be a useful channel for you to use again in the future.
Again, advertising is not a one and done kind of thing. It’s something you'll want to be doing constantly, continually pushing the message about your shop. This will help you to move your business toward the profits and growth you want to see.
Our Repair Shop Value Program can also help as you work to grow your business. Check it out to see what it can do for your shop!