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Creating a Market Strategy for Your Auto Parts Store

May 1st, 2020

A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog that highlighted six critical questions to ask to help you understand your customers and differentiate your parts store. Now, we are going to take the information we pulled together during that exercise and ask four more questions that will help you turn your differentiator into a market strategy.

David beating Goliath

How do I reach my primary audience?

If you’ve already determined who your target customers are during the first group of questions, then you’ve done most of the work in finding out how to reach them. But, you have to be sure that you’ve defined your target audience narrowly enough and that you’ve added as much detail as possible. You may have 2-3 different target audiences. If that’s the case then you’ll want to look at each group separately.

It can be very helpful to build out and document the persona of your target audience. What are their demographics? How do they make buying decisions? What websites do they visit? What television stations do they watch? What type of music do they listen to? What type of community events do they go to? Who do they listen to for advice? What things are most important to them when they are considering buying from an auto parts store?

You get the picture. The deeper you can get into who these people are and what makes them tick, the more likely you are to be able to reach them, with a message that matters to them. Some businesses like to pick an actual person they do business with and use everything they know about that person to draw out the persona of the target audience.

Once you’ve got the persona built out, you can make good decisions on how to reach them. If they are likely to attend community events, then you can sponsor the specific community events they are most likely to attend. If they search online for services, you’ll want to be sure your Google My Business profile is complete and that you’ve got a website that searches well. If they are part of a specific organization, you could also join that organization. If you know they spend a lot of time on Facebook, you may want to consider advertising on Facebook.

The main point is that you want to understand as much as you can about your target audience so that you can make sure that you are investing your time and money on the marketing initiatives that they are going to see. And if you’ve got multiple audiences, then you rinse and repeat the process for each one.

Also, if you sell parts mostly or completely to auto repair shops, don’t make the mistake of thinking that personality profiles don’t matter. They absolutely do matter. Businesses don’t make decisions, people do.

What message will resonate with them most?

In the initial set of six critical questions, you spent the time to determine what problem your customer was facing and what pain it causes them. You also determined your differentiator, or what makes your solution better than the competition.

With this information, you can start to develop strong messaging that will resonate with your target audience. What is the result they are looking for? What do they care about most? Think about this from their perspective.

In the earlier blog, we used the example of the auto repair shop that has the primary need of quick delivery. The lack of quick delivery caused the pain of not being able to accurately communicate expectations to their customers, and not being able to complete repair orders fast enough to hit their daily car count or revenue numbers.

Focusing on that pain in your messaging will help you stand out:

  • Hit your daily car count goals with our Rapid Delivery Program!
  • Grow your revenue by increasing your capacity with our Rapid Delivery Program!
  • Partner with “RSW Auto Parts” to exceed your customers’ expectations and earn great reviews with our Rapid Delivery Program!

Of course, you’d have to explain what the Rapid Delivery Program entailed. If you have more specific measurables that you know set you apart from your competitors, those can be even more effective:

  • Hit your daily car count goals with our 1-hour Delivery Program!

This is just one example. But the important point is that if you’ve done the work to know your customer, you’ll know what their deep-seeded needs and pain points are and how you can meet those needs better than any other parts store in the market. Highlight that, and frame it by their needs and their desired outcomes.

How do I communicate it as quickly and simply as possible?

You already know a lot about your target audience. You know how to reach them. You know the key messaging that should get their attention. What could go wrong?

Most often what goes wrong at this stage is that in our efforts to communicate a grand message that covers everything, we overcomplicate things. It’s important to keep it simple. If you’ve got a one-line message like the ones highlighted above, that’s great. If you’ve got 2-3 bullets, that’s also really good. If you want to add an intro sentence and a call to action after your bullets that’s still good. Anymore than that is most likely too much.

Here’s a genericized example:

RSW Auto Parts is the auto parts store that Raleigh repair shops depend on!

  • “hit this goal with this great thing we do”
  • “hit this goal with this great thing we do”
  • “hit this goal with this great thing we do”

Find out why Raleigh’s best repair shops choose RSW Auto Parts today! Call us at (Phone) or visit our website at (web address).

Build your broad message like this and then you can pick and choose pieces of it depending on how much space or time you have. You can have a 10-second version, a 30-second version and a 1-minute version.

What processes do I need in place to ensure I always deliver on the promise I make in my marketing?

This last question is the most difficult to deliver on. But it’s very important. Once you find your message, you have to be able to deliver on it. And you’ll likely need to spend a little extra to always deliver on it.

If you are promising 2-hour delivery, you have to always deliver parts in two hours. If you are promising the most knowledgeable auto parts specialists in the area, you have to have the most knowledgeable auto parts specialists working in your store. If you are promising specialization in a specific category or type of parts, then you need to make sure that you have great experience and can answer all of the questions related to that category or type of parts.

Identify the processes that are part of your ability to deliver on your marketing promises, and document them. Make sure those processes are understood by all, shared by all and followed by all. If it’s something that requires the ability to make judgment calls based on customer needs, then that is fine. Capture it in your documentation. It’s not meant to be overly restrictive, just to ensure you are delivering on your promises to customers.

When to use these questions

Using the full 10 question process will help you significantly if you haven’t done it before and then it can be re-done or revisited every three to five years. However, during shifts in your market caused by external factors that create new opportunities or new challenges, use these final four questions to help you adjust to the changing needs of a currently-targeted audience or attract and serve a new audience.

6 Critical Questions: Understanding Your Customers and Differentiating Your Auto Parts Store

April 16th, 2020

How long does it take you to identify the product that these phrases represent?

Snap…Crackle…Pop

It Gives You Wings…

My guess is that it didn’t take you very long. (If you aren’t sure, just Google them.) Both of these products/brands have had those slogans in place for decades. They haven’t kept the same slogan because nobody thought of a better one. They keep it because they’ve spent years placing it into the minds of customers, and they don’t want to lose all of that work.

They know the slogan reinforces what the product does – and the product reinforces the slogan. The slogan tells customers what to expect, and when they buy the product, they get exactly what they’re expecting.

In its simplest form, that is the essence of marketing. A concept that seems simple but is much harder to execute well, and it’s this:

  • Find out what your product or service does better than anyone else’s.
  • Find the simplest way to reinforce that fact in your customers’ minds.
  • Reinforce it every single chance you get.

And at the moment of truth, when customers show up, never fail to deliver what you’ve told them to expect.

Customer Focus

But if you don’t know what you do better than anyone else in the world, or at least in your market, what’s the best way to figure it out?

This leads to the six questions that every business has to answer in order to know what value they’re providing to their customers. If you can answer these six questions you’ve laid the groundwork for growing your business profitably.

Who is your market?

Remember, unless you’re the only parts store in town, you’re not going to appeal to everyone. What type of customers prefer your store? Is it based on location? Price sensitivity? A particular brand or specialization of parts you carry? A service they can’t get anywhere else? Some combination of the four, or something else entirely?

Try to define your customers in a narrow enough way that most of the people in that group are – or should become – customers of your store. Making this definition too broad doesn’t do you any favors, it makes it harder.

How large is that market?

If it’s too small you won’t be able to earn enough business with that market. You’ll need to find a way to expand the audience by appealing to additional potential customers with new or different parts or services. On the other hand, if it’s too big competitors may step all over your message, and you might find yourself marketing a benefit that every other auto parts store in town has.

What problem is your customer facing?

This one is a bit more complicated than it seems.

You might say that your customers need brake pads or a battery or an A/C compressor. But for the vast majority of repair shops and consumers in the United States that’s not really a problem. There are hundreds of thousands of auto parts stores and online sources.

If they are a repair shop, their problem is more likely to be that they don’t know who to trust to consistently get them the parts they need that meet their quality standards as quickly as they say they will get them to the shop, at a fair price.

If they are a consumer, their problem may be that they know they need a new battery to make sure they can get to work tomorrow but they have no idea what type, or how much it should cost. They’re worried they’re going to be taken advantage of, and they could use some help installing the battery as well.

The odds are that you can handle some customer problems better than others. If you have a delivery service with an employee who is always on point and communicates well with customers, then you are going to be the parts store that shops trust.

If you or one of your parts experts excels at talking to stressed out customers and helping them make the best decision for their vehicle, you can probably build a strong reputation for helping people that are worried about being taken advantage of.

The problems you’re best at solving do a great job of helping you define your market.

Your problem also has to be an actual problem. That’s why the fourth question is here…

What pain does the problem cause?

The examples above provide clear pain points. For the repair shop that can’t find a parts store they can depend on, they suffer the pain of not being able to accurately communicate expectations to their customers, and not being able to complete repair orders fast enough to hit their daily car count or revenue numbers. For the consumer that needs a battery – without a battery they are not getting to work tomorrow so their pain is loss of income and potentially loss of their job.

This question encourages you to think beyond initial requests and to empathize more with your customers in a way that will not only help you with marketing, but also in customer communications. It can sometimes help to use the “One More Question” framework to dig in and identify the pain.

The customer needs a battery. Why?

Because her battery is dead. How does that affect her?

Her car won’t start and she has no other transportation. Where does she need to go?

She needs to go to work tomorrow. Why?

She needs to make money to be able to feed her children.

What is your solution to this problem?

Does the customer believe it solves their problem? This is important. You thinking it solves the customer’s problem isn’t enough. They need to tell you that it solved their problem.

If you’re trying to be the best parts store in town at helping the customer feel like they’re not being ripped off, they need to tell you that they feel like they can trust you.

If you want to be the best at speedy parts delivery to repair shops, the customer needs to believe that you helped them quickly.

Whatever their deeper level problem is, you need to solve it. If they don’t believe you did, they will be moving right on to the next auto parts store next time.

If you’ve made it this far – you’ve accomplished a lot – but you still don’t have a way to profit. That’s because there might be a dozen other auto parts stores near you that are marketing to the same customers, with the same problem, and they might be offering the same solution.

That leads directly to question number six…

What is different – and better – about your solution compared to other parts stores?

Whatever you’re offering has to be different in some way that’s actually important to your target market. It also should be able to be quantified.

In today’s world – the easiest way to quantify quality is with online review scores. Most customers that look online for a parts store will take a look at their reviews on at least one website, most likely Google. And they aren’t going to go somewhere that’s consistently getting trashed by former customers.

Another major way to differentiate your shop is to offer the lowest price. In fact, price is a customer’s ultimate tie-breaker. If nobody has given a customer a compelling reason to select one parts store over another, they’ll just pick the one with the lowest price or the best deals.

Consider gas stations – it’s all the same gas, so without a special reason you are likely to consistently go to the station that has the cheapest prices…and not spend money on anything else there. But, you might always go to Sheetz if you (or your kids) love the food options there. You might always go to a specific gas station because they give you a thorough window washing while you wait.

Price is not usually a good differentiator to have. For an independent auto parts store price is one of the worst differentiators you can have. That’s because you can’t make much money and still offer the lowest price unless you’re such a large company that you can do everything more cheaply than anyone else.

The good news is that there are a number of potential differentiators. But whatever differentiator you pick – make sure that it matters to customers, make sure it really matters to them.

It needs to matter so much that they’d pick your store over other parts stores even if yours is a bit more expensive. If that’s not the case – then price is the differentiator. And whether you win over price-shoppers or lose them – your bottom line is going to lose either way.

These six questions will help you do more than just market your shop. They’ll help you build a strategy for profitability. They’ll help guide you through tough decisions on specialized parts to offer, services to add and what traits matter most in new hires. Here they are one more time:

  • Who is your market?
  • How many people are in that market?
  • What is their problem?
  • What pain do customers feel as a result of that problem?
  • What solution does your store offer to the problem?
  • What is different (and better) about your solution compared to other stores?

If you don’t have these questions already answered for your store, now is the time to identify the answers.

5 Steps to Becoming Known in Your Community

April 9th, 2020

What percentage of the people in your community know that your business exists? What are you doing as the auto parts store owner to increase that number?

Between running a business, serving customers and taking care of your family, it can be difficult to feel like you have any time to contribute to raising awareness of your store in your community. But, there are steps you can take to increase your visibility and memorability, and they don’t have to cost much or take much time. Here are five of the most effective techniques.

RSW AutoParts

Invest In Your Logo

Have a visually appealing logo made for your auto parts store, and use it everywhere you can. Ask a local marketing agency to design a logo for you, or use an online resource like 99designs, where you can have it created quite inexpensively. If you have a motto or a slogan, make sure it appears alongside your logo in places where it makes sense and won’t be too small. If you do use a motto or slogan, make sure that your employees exemplify everything the motto promises.

Sponsor Community Events

Sponsoring youth sports, holiday celebrations, or disease awareness walks and runs is a great way to contribute
to your community. It also gets your logo on banners and websites, as well as shirts that will be worn by local residents for years.

Become a Local Media Resource

Despite the long-running rumors of their demise, local television stations and newspapers are still the most-favored source of news for many people. They will often provide tips to residents on car care and safety, especially when severe weather is around the corner. Give those media outlets a call ahead of time and
offer to serve as an expert resource for their news pieces.

The local media is also always looking for business owners to help them understand what is happening in the local economy. Let them know that you are happy to be a resource for those stories as well.

Make People Laugh

Social media is powerful, but businesses that use it only for promotion will quickly be ignored. Instead, find ways to make people laugh related to car parts and accessories, or something altogether different. These pictures or stories will be shared, providing free exposure for your business.

Boost Your Online Visibility

More than 80% of people go online to look for local service providers, so it’s important to have a presence there. A great web presence requires more than just a website – your auto parts store needs to search well on Google, have a completed Google My Business profile, look clean and professional in photos that are posted, and have several great reviews from the past few months.

None of these five things will bring you overnight success. But getting started with one, two or three of them can help you steadily raise awareness of your auto parts store in your community.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you attract more customers to your auto parts store, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

How Do I Get More Customers Into My Auto Parts Store?

April 8th, 2020

If you are looking for marketing help, everyone has something to offer you that they say has proven to work.  Get your logo in front of thousands of eyes!  Photos and videos keep your potential customers engaged for much longer!  Guaranteed results!  Surely if these companies are able to stay in business, they’ve got to work for somebody.  Right?

Not necessarily.  More than 90% of those postcard mailers will get thrown away before anyone looks at them.  A big visual ad is useless if someone isn’t actively thinking about auto parts or auto repair when they see it.  That video doesn’t help if it’s buried somewhere that nobody goes. And about those guaranteed results – if a marketing company could really get 100% of all small businesses a giant return on their marketing investment, don’t you think you would have heard of them by now?  They’d be working with every small business in town.

The truth is, many of the most effective marketing techniques don’t cost as much as you’d expect.  Some of them are even free!  Here are three ways to get more customers for your auto parts store.


Show up where it matters online

If you’re trying to get your parts store in front of customers right when they are online thinking about auto parts, here are three important facts to consider.

An important point here is that to get new customers from the internet, you don’t need a beautiful, custom website.  You need a website with the content and the architecture that gets you on the first page of the Google search results. 

And, if you want to earn all of those potential repair shop and consumer customers who are looking for an auto parts store in your area, you want to have a Google Review rating above 4.0.  That means you need to ask your happy customers for Google reviews, even if it feels awkward.

Ask for referrals (and explain why)

So many unworthy companies run marketing campaigns asking for customer referrals that it’s easy for consumers to dismiss them.  That’s a shame, because referrals can be the lifeblood of a small business.  A great referral source is the easiest way for one raving fan to turn into a hundred customers, or maybe better yet to turn into your two or three most profitable customers.

When you ask for a referral, don’t do it like large companies most often do it – with an off-hand, scripted remark from an employee that’s said very quickly because it’s awkward and just an item to be checked off.  Do it in a way that is genuine and establishes a connection with the customer.

After a customer tells you that they appreciate your advice and/or your service, thank them for the business and the feedback.  Then tell them you are a local small business, and you’d really appreciate it if they’d let any other repair shops, family or friends in the area know how happy they were with your store. Tell them referrals are one of your auto parts store’s most valuable sources of new customers.  Give them a few business cards and ask them to hand them to anyone who they think will be buying auto parts or accessories in the near future.

It’s likely that most people won’t make the effort of referring you even if you do ask.  But if you can increase your referral rate, you can have a dramatic effect on the amount of new customers coming your way. And, any number times zero is zero.

Surprise your customers

Years ago, marketing guru Seth Godin mentioned that the key to being remarkable is to be worthy of a remark. Unfortunately, most businesses are happy with hitting the low bar of customer service for their industry. That shouldn’t be you.

When you break through that low bar of customer service with a truly unique way of showing your appreciation, you can earn loyal customers for life.  How do you do this?  There are lots of options – and it’s important to know that creativity is much more important than cost.

One auto repair shop that we work with partners with a local bakery, and every customer car is returned with a bag of freshly baked cookies.  Another one keeps a stock of new Matchbox cars on hand, and customers’ kids can pick out a vehicle each time they visit.

You may not be able to execute these repair shop examples at your parts store. But consider what they represent – creative ways to show that you are looking for every opportunity to improve customers’ lives.  That’s why these inexpensive gestures can turn first-time customers into lifetime customers.

Why do lifetime customers matter so much?  Most businesses would go bankrupt fast if they had to attract a new customer for every transaction.  New customers become profitable when they turn into repeat customers.  If you want repeat customers, you’ve got to give them a reason to always choose your store.  For many customers, showing them that you really care about them is enough to do just that.

If you’re looking for more business for your auto parts store, call Repair Shop Websites at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Should I Respond to My Auto Parts Store Google Reviews?

April 3rd, 2020

Yes, you definitely should. But there’s more to it than just posting a quick response.

You’ll want to respond appropriately to the type of review you received. We’ll break them down into three different groups – good reviews, bad reviews and false reviews.

The Garage Google review

Responding To Good Reviews

As you probably already know, good reviews are the easiest types of reviews to respond to and by going a step or two beyond just saying thanks, you can help your auto parts store in ways you may not even realize. If you can, an excellent way to do this is to mention something personal about the customer who left the review and to reference the parts or service that you provided for them.

But first, you should respond by thanking them for taking the time to post the review for your store. Time is precious, so it’s important to show appreciation to a customer who is willing to use their time to help your auto parts store.

Second, if you are able to include something personal about the customer or the shop, it helps you demonstrate that you really care about them as a customer. This helps keep the relationship with the customer strong and also serves as a clear indication to potential customers who will be looking at the reviews that you truly care about your customers.

Finally, including something about the parts you sold to them or the service you provided will help your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This helps to increase your chances of appearing in the Local Pack (the list of 3-4 businesses that shows up just below the map in a Google search results page) when somebody searches for those parts or that service in your area. It will also help your website search better for those parts and services, as long as it is linked to your Google My Business profile.

Responding To Bad Reviews

One of the most difficult things to do is to keep your cool and respond reasonably when somebody blasts your auto parts store in a review, especially if you feel strongly that they are wrong. Your instinct will likely be to tear into them in the response. But it is critically important to remember that potential customers who read the review will have no way of knowing who is right and who is wrong. If you quickly hit send on that non-professional response, potential customers will believe that you are not professional. As unfair as that may be, that’s the way it works.

Your best move is to respond respectfully, typing out something like “we are sorry you feel that way about your visit to our store.” It’s also helpful to include a line that states that you work to provide excellent customer service – “we strive to provide the best service in town to all our customers.” And to follow that up with “I’d be happy to talk to you personally about your experience.”

If you know that something went wrong during the interaction with the customer, it’s a good idea to be straightforward and more apologetic. Almost all customers understand that nobody gets it right all of the time. And, potential customers reading the review and seeing your response will respect your accountability and be more likely to choose your store if they see that type of response.

If you state in your response that “our goal is 100% customer satisfaction. Unfortunately we missed the mark with you. I’d really appreciate the chance to talk to you and discuss how we can make it right.” It can go a long way toward demonstrating your care for your customers in the face of a mistake.

Responding To False Reviews

Every once in a while we’ll see a review get posted for one of our customers that is either mistaken or blatantly false. An example would be if somebody writes that they visited your auto parts store on a Sunday, but you are not open on Sundays.

If this happens to you, it is totally appropriate to point out that they must be mistaken. Posting a response that includes “we are sorry you had a bad experience, but it could not have been with our store. We haven’t been open on Sunday in 20 years,” is a good way to address it. It is also totally appropriate to ask them to remove the review because of the mistake. Feel free to encourage them to stop by your store for a much better customer experience.

Like with most things, you probably want to avoid hard and fast rules when it comes to responding to reviews for your auto parts store. But, if you use these recommendations as a guide, and always keep in mind that it will not just be the person who wrote the review that reads your response, but many potential customers, you can further leverage Google reviews as a way to help you gain more customers.

You may also want to read: Should I Ask Customers to Post Reviews for My Auto Parts Store?

If you’d like help getting more reviews, please contact us at 866-665-1605 or Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Should I Ask Customers to Post Reviews for My Auto Parts Store?

April 2nd, 2020

The short, and important, answer is: Yes!

But unfortunately, many auto parts store owners and managers are hesitant to ask a customer to post a review. You may feel that asking a customer to post a review will come off as pushy or tacky. Other business owners think that if the customer isn’t going to post a review on their own, then the business didn’t really earn the review in the first place.

Those feelings are understandable. However, we conducted a survey in 2019 of nearly 600 auto repair shop customers and here are a couple of important findings that came directly from that survey:

  • 18% posted reviews for a shop after not being asked
  • 62% posted reviews for a shop after being asked

62% of auto repair customers posted a review when asked

Now, you can say that the survey was for auto repair shop customers and not auto parts store customers. And that is true. But, chances are good that you would see the same type of numbers among your own customers. So, with that, a key finding of the survey is that customers are three times more likely to post a review if you ask them to than if you leave them to do it on their own.

This point grows even more important as your potential customers see reviews, especially Google reviews, as the new social proof. Social proof is the concept that when people are inexperienced in making certain decisions they will seek out conformity and copy the actions of others to avoid making a mistake and not being accepted.

This explains a significant reason for why reviews are an important tool to help you attract new customers to your store through your online presence. Strongly positive reviews help potential customers feel confident that they will not be making a mistake by trusting you to make the right parts recommendations, or if they are a repair shop, that you will deliver the right parts when you say you will. And, the more reviews that you have, the stronger the signals of conformity will be in their brain, even if they don’t realize that is what is driving them to make the decision.

Another reason why reviews are a critically important tool in helping you attract new customers from the web is that Google uses reviews as a factor in where your auto parts store is displayed on the local pack and in organic search results. For the local pack (the listings that are usually right below the map), the number one factor is proximity – how close your store is to where the user is who is conducting the search. But not too far behind that are:

  • #12 – Quantity of Native Google Reviews (with text)
  • #19 – High Numerical Ratings of Business by Google Users (4-5 stars)

Those rankings are out of around 200 factors, so both of them are in the top 10% of factors.

And while you are asking a customer for a review, go ahead and ask them to mention the specific parts you sold them, or the services you provided to them. That’s especially true if it’s a part you’d like to sell more of or a service you’d like to perform more often (maybe because of the high margin), or because it’s something that you have particular expertise in. The #14 factor for the Local Pack is “Product/Service Keywords in Reviews.”

If one of your key selling features to repair shops/installers is your speedy delivery, then ask a few of your repair shop customers that you know are particularly happy to post a review mentioning your quick delivery service.

If you’d be happy selling all parts related to brakes all day because there is a significant demand and a good margin, then ask customers who you’ve recently helped choose the right brake parts for their car to post a review and mention the parts they purchased along with your expert advice.

To bring it all together – YES, ask your happy customers to post reviews for your auto parts store, especially on Google and Facebook. And don’t stop there, ask them to include specifics about the parts they purchased and the services that you provided, as well as their experience in working with you.

If you are interested in hearing more about reviews, we encourage you to listen to Episode 5 of our Busy Bays Podcast – What are your Google Reviews doing for you? It’s geared more specifically to auto repair, but we believe you’ll also find quite a bit of information that applies to parts stores as well.

And if you’d like help getting more reviews for your auto parts store, please contact us at 866-665-1605 or Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Don’t Let Someone Steal Your Auto Parts Store’s Google My Business Identity

April 1st, 2020

Have you set up and/or claimed the Google My Business profile for your auto parts store? If you haven’t, or if you are letting somebody else manage it for you, please read on for some very important words of warning.

The Google My Business Profile

First, if you are unfamiliar with the Google My Business (GMB) profile, or just aren’t sure what it is called, it is the big box that shows up most often on the right side of Google search results when you search for a business by name. As an example, Repair Shop Websites’ GMB profile is below.

The information in your GMB profile serves as your online identity for anyone searching Google for your business name. The way it is set up varies on mobile and desktop, but it has your business address, hours, phone number (with click-to-call on mobile), a link to your website, Google Reviews, and a button to get directions to your business. If someone types your name into Google, they’re probably expecting to see this information pop up on the right side of their screen. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a GMB profile, they aren’t going to see it and may think you are out of business.

Having a completed GMB profile also makes you more likely to show up for any searches related to auto parts or auto parts stores. When a business owner reaches out to Google and claims their GMB profile, it gives Google more confidence about the information being provided for that business. When a parts store owner puts store hours into their GMB profile, it’s another indication to Google that the parts store is an active business. When an owner puts the parts store’s current address into GMB, Google knows it isn’t going to accidentally send a Google user to an old address, or an address that’s floating around online for the store but is incorrect.

Simply put, if you don’t have a GMB profile, spending 15 minutes completing it will significantly improve your web presence and increase the likelihood that auto repair shops and consumers in the area will find you when they are searching for auto parts. That’s why we reach out to every one of our customers and try to help them build or claim their Google My Business profile. We want to make sure our customers are taking advantage of this critical tool.

The Danger of Not Claiming Your Google My Business Profile

Unfortunately, GMB can hurt you, too. A serious word of warning – if you don’t reach out to Google and claim your GMB profile, anyone can add your business to GMB or make edits to your GMB profile. If Google doesn’t know very much about you, they will depend on crowdsourcing to find out where you are located, what products and services you provide, how to contact you, and when your store is open.

This means a Google user could request an edit and change your hours to “Closed” on Fridays. They could change your phone number to a competitor’s phone number. They could even redirect your website link to somewhere unsafe, like a phishing or ransomware website. All of this can do serious damage to your business.

Protect Your GMB Profile Credentials

Another critical word of warning – don’t let anyone walk away with your online identity. If an employee has your GMB login information, make sure you also have access to that information, in a secure place. If you cancel services with a vendor who manages your GMB profile, make sure they provide you with your login information and change the password when they are no longer serving you.

Losing your Google My Business login is a lot like losing your real identity. You will lose the ability to control the information online about your store, and that information is likely to become less accurate, and potentially damaging, over time.

There is another key reason to keep up with this login. If you can’t locate it but need to update something on your GMB profile, you may have to ask Google to “reset” your password so you can gain access. We’ve probably all had to do this with a lost password for an account. However, there’s a significant difference for GMB profiles.

If you do need a GMB profile login reset, there’s a good chance Google will delete all of the information about the “old store” at your location. Google wants to make sure that a person starting a new business isn’t earning credit (or blame) that was associated with the last business at that address. That means that all of your store’s information, pictures, and even reviews – all those things that help you solidify your web presence – are subject to deletion, and you’ll be starting from scratch again. If you’ve taken the time to build up a solid number of excellent reviews, this is a disaster you shouldn’t have to experience.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you manage your Google My Business profile, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

The Importance of Customer Loyalty for Auto Parts Stores

March 31st, 2020

Type “customer loyalty” into your Google search bar and you’ll get ads for companies trying to sell you loyalty programs.  Below that is a featured snippet from the book The Intuitive Customer defining customer loyalty as a “result of a consistently positive emotional experience”.

When you really think about it, though, how effective is a loyalty program at inspiring an emotional response?  Who rolls into Starbucks, downloads their customer loyalty app, and feels an emotional connection when they earn their eight stars for a grande mocha?  (Only twenty more to go for a free vanilla syrup upgrade!)

The reality is that customer loyalty isn’t a present/absent attribute.  There are four different levels of loyalty — best option loyalty, habit-based loyalty, conscious loyalty and identity loyalty.  The higher the level of loyalty you are able to achieve, the less likely your auto parts store is to ever lose that customer.  If you’re using a card-punch or points-based program to earn customer loyalty, it’s not likely to get you past habit-based loyalty, and it may not even get you there.  Here are the details for each level.

Level 1: Best Option Loyalty
This is the base level of loyalty and it’s even a stretch to call it “loyalty.”  Customers at this level of loyalty visit your auto parts store because they think you’re the best option at the time.  In most cases, it’s because your store is nearby and they know that you helped them adequately the last time they came into your store or called in for something.  It might also be because they got a coupon book or a flyer from you, or they remember a discount you sent them that they can pull up on their smartphone.

This may seem like a weak form of loyalty – and it is.  People’s loyalty to most businesses they regularly visit never gets past this level, however.  They’ll keep using you as their source for auto parts until they get a good reason to walk away.  That could be a lower price or quicker delivery at a competitor, a strong referral to another store or a frustrating experience at your store.  That might take years – or it might happen tomorrow.

Level 2: Habit-Based Loyalty
If a customer calls on your auto parts store enough times, it will become a habit.  The average person makes thousands of decisions per day – several per minute.  It’s exhausting, which is why the human mind takes shortcuts and most decisions aren’t conscious.  Most decisions are based on habit – when you set your alarm clock, you probably set it for the same time every morning, unless you have a good reason to change it.  And if people visit your store enough times, they’ll keep coming to it unless they have a good reason to go somewhere else.

With customers at the habit-based loyalty level, a $5 coupon from a competitor or a minor delay in parts delivery from your store isn’t going to be enough to get them to change their behavior.  Changing auto parts stores often requires too much effort.  Is the other store rated well?  How quickly will they deliver?  Do they offer credit and a running balance?  Going to the trouble of figuring all of this out will require an emotional reason.

These customers will still change stores if they have an emotional reason to do so, however.  They’ll also do it if they decide that their habit no longer makes sense.  For consumers, that may mean that they’ve moved or changed jobs and your shop isn’t convenient anymore.  For repair shops, that probably means somebody else will offer the parts for less or offer on-demand delivery.

Level 3: Conscious Loyalty
To reach this level, customers have to feel like you’ve done something for them that is far outside of the norm for your industry.  Unlike lower levels of loyalty, this is an emotional connection – “I use this auto parts store because they’re the only one that does X for their customers” is generally an emotional statement.

It does not necessarily have to be anything expensive either.  It could be a simple gesture like offering extreme flexibility when expediting delivery for critical parts they need that day for a repair.  Even a hand-written thank you note can be a loyalty-winning surprise.

This level of loyalty can often be achieved by coming to a customer’s rescue when they need it most: providing a part that they can’t find anywhere else, making a special allowance for an immediate delivery on a critical job they are working on, providing them advice that works when they’ve run out of options, or saving them hundreds of dollars by identifying a much less expensive solution to what they thought was a thousand dollar problem.

Level 4: Identity Loyalty
Most consumers only have a handful of brands in their lives that form a part of their identity.  Vehicles are one of the few items where it’s common for customers to identify with a brand.  Most people who drive Harleys or Corvettes don’t do it because it was cheaper or had a better warranty than other motorcycles or cars.  They do it because they think the vehicle represents them personally.

When a customer has reached this level, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to get them to change.  In almost all cases, the only way they’ll change brands is if the product or service lets them down in a significant way or challenges some other aspect of their identity.  That’s because using something different requires more than just changing a product – it requires changing who they are and how they see themselves.  It most often requires a business or a brand to spend a tremendous amount of money and effort to ever have a chance at earning customers with identity loyalty, which is why most small businesses don’t have any customers who reach this level.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you attract loyal customers to your auto parts store, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com

3 Ways Auto Parts Stores Can Improve Customer Service and Why It Pays to Do So

March 25th, 2020

Have you noticed that there are many companies who love to claim that their customer service is great?  There are probably a good number of auto parts stores that you compete against that do it. One reason is that it’s not easily quantifiable.  Unlike claiming to be the cheapest, fastest or most experienced, it’s hard to point to a competitor’s claim and say ‘that’s a lie’ without making yourself look bad. 


Another reason businesses try so hard to claim great service is that it’s a major decision factor for the best customers.  According to a 2019 study, 57% of people said they’d pay more for great customer service and 73% said they’d be more likely to be a repeat customer.  In addition, most customers said that they would buy more services from employees they find friendlier.

Consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers quantified the financial value of great customer service in a 2018 study.   According to this study, consumers pay 16% more on average for great service.  Sixteen percent sounds like a solid boost. If you consider that it might not cost any additional money to improve your service, it becomes a tremendously valuable sum.  A 16% higher price may even double your profit margins.

Here are three ways you can improve your customer service to capture added revenue.

  • Improve your customer interactions over the phone – Many customers will interact with your store for the first time over the phone, even auto repair shops. Those first few seconds determine how likely they are to choose you over the other auto parts stores in town. Answer the phone warmly and introduce yourself and your business. Be engaged in the conversation and answer any questions the potential customer has. Show appreciation for the call whether they say they are coming in or not.
  • Focus on the customer, not the car – It’s easy to think of the customer’s vehicle as your patient. But if repairs are unexpected, and the customer has very little knowledge about what is needed, you’ve got a big opportunity to make an emotional connection. That emotional connection will be worth much more than just the sale of a few parts.  Figure out what the customer needs most, not the vehicle – and try to find a way to provide it.
  • Educate and empower customers – Going out of your way to help customers understand what’s wrong with their vehicle makes many of them more comfortable with paying what it costs for the parts to repair it. The same is true for helping them understand their options when it comes to the auto parts that you sell and making recommendations for how they should fix the problem.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your auto parts store earn most customers and make those customers more profitable, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com