Repair Shop Advice

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How Consumers Evaluate Reviews and What They Do Next

November 29th, 2022

We have been emphasizing the importance of reviews for auto repair shops for years, most recently in our blog How Google Reviews Win You Business. We now know even more about how consumers process reviews and what they do after reading them thanks to a recent survey that comes from the very well respected SEO firm Moz. The survey was conducted in September 2022 with 1,300 consumers.

Here are some of the key points of the survey that reinforce previous findings:

  • 96% of consumers read online reviews
  • 56% of consumers read online reviews at least weekly
  • 36% of consumers say the star rating matters most to them when looking at reviews
  • 28% of consumers say the written content of the review matters most to them
  • 17% of consumers say recency of the review matters most to them

With that information confirming what we’ve seen in other surveys, it’s safe to say that almost all of your customers and potential customers are reading online reviews for your shop. What’s most interesting to me about these five data points is that 28 percent said the written content of the reviews matters most to them. That serves as further proof that when you ask for reviews you should ask your happy customers to include the services you provided and the customer service they experienced.

The rest of the questions we’ll cover in this blog are very valuable questions about how people look at reviews that I’ve either never seen asked or haven’t seen asked in this specific way.

How many positive reviews do you normally read before deciding a business is worth a try?

This one really surprised me! I would never have thought that in our short attention span society 57 percent of people want to read 10 or more positive reviews for a business before they are willing to give it a try.

Seeing this number should cause you to further assess the reviews that your shop has. Can your potential customers easily read 20 positive reviews about your shop? If not you should definitely put some urgency into your efforts to ask happy customers for reviews.

Who do you trust more, the business or customers?

While the outcome is not surprising, I include this question because I have not seen this asked so directly in such a high-quality survey before. As you consider the answer, think of it this way – 1 in 3 potential customers are going to trust what you say about your shop while the other 2 are going to put much more stock in what your customers say. And of course, where do they most often go to find that information – reviews.

After reading enough positive reviews to be interested in a business, what do you most often do next?

The majority of consumers are going to visit the website first after they’ve read enough positive reviews to be interested in a business. This is an important point. Potential customers want to see additional proof of your shop’s credibility and having a website that looks great and shows them what they would want to see can play a significant role in providing the proof.

It’s also important to note that 40 percent of consumers are going to stop in at your shop or call you. All the work you’ve done to deliver great service and get excellent reviews will go down the drain if you don’t have somebody that greets them warmly at the desk or on the phone. You want to make sure that experience is excellent for all potential and returning customers.

Apart from visiting review sites, what else do you do to understand a business’ reputation?

Of course consumers are going to ask their friends and family about a business. But I would expect that number to be higher, probably in the 75 to 80 percent area. I think it’s also notable how close the second and third most popular choices are to the first choice. Looking on social media for feedback about the business is only 12 points lower than asking friends and family. Looking at reviews/testimonials on a business’s own website is a little further behind than asking family and friends but it’s still relatively close to 50 percent.

So, while people are still turning to friends and family, they are also looking for additional social proof on social media and your website. This further drives home the point that it is important for you to have a presence in all of the places potential customers will go to confirm your credibility.

If you are not currently asking consistently for reviews from happy customers, I hope seeing this data will convince you that it is really important to do so. In most markets there are quite a few auto repair shops competing for consumers and the more you can set your shop above the competition by having great reviews, the more likely your shop is to get chosen.

Our Integrated Reviews platform helps our customers get more online reviews. To learn how we can help do that for your auto repair shop, call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!

Beware of Manipulating Marketing Companies

November 18th, 2022

Unfortunately, there are far too many “businesses” in the marketing industry that use fear and misleading tactics to get the attention of small business owners. They are willing to do whatever it takes to sell their services and some of their tactics are downright evil. Auto repair shops are among the businesses they target.

We hear from clients all the time about an email they received with a warning that scared them into action. Here’s what to look out for and how you can investigate these claims yourself.

“Renew your website domain immediately!”

The bad actors who are doing this are the worst offenders. They try to scare you into thinking your website will be going down very soon if you don’t pay them to renew your domain.

Yes, domain renewal is very important. If you don’t actively renew your domain, your website will go down. You could even lose your domain in an auction fairly quickly. However, in almost all cases the companies that are sending you these notices don’t hold your domain. They may be able to renew it for you, but they are going to charge you a significantly higher fee to do so than you truly need to pay.

What to do

Contact your current website provider to ask about the renewal date of your domain. If they don’t manage your domain for you they should still be able to tell you who does host your domain and help you check on it.

If you manage your own website, you want to be sure that you keep track of who you originally selected as your domain host. You also want to be sure that you have your login information for that account. If it’s too late for that, reach out to the platform you are using for your website to see if they can help you identify who you have registered your domain with.

You can also go to https://lookup.icann.org/en/lookup. Under Domain Information and then Dates, you should be able to see when your domain registration expires. You may also be able to get the contact information for the hosting company there.

Once you’ve got this information be sure to store it somewhere you will remember so that you have it in a safe and memorable place when you need it in the future.

“There are errors on your website!”

As a company that builds and manages websites for auto repair shops, this is one of the most irritating tactics. Very rarely are there actual “errors” – misspellings, incorrect information, bad links, etc.

Instead, after saying they found errors the follow up by these misleading entities usually takes one of two approaches neither of which are actually highlighting “errors”:
         1.   They highlight a bunch of things that are truly not affecting the website’s ability to search well and draw in customers
         2.   They hold your website to a standard that can only be met by the biggest brands

Before mentioning the specific issues with both of these approaches, it’s important to say that what matters most when it comes to how your website performs is results. For almost all small businesses, the main job of your website is to get you found when somebody searches for the services you provide in your area. There are other things that can be important like branding/reputation and conversions, but ultimately you want your website to show up toward the top of the organic search results.

If your website is showing up toward the top of the organic search results for the auto repair services you provide in your area, then there are no significant SEO or content issues or errors on your website. Case closed.

It’s also important to know that there are very few “perfect” websites. It is really easy for a marketing agency to nitpick and point out things that they consider wrong. And the worst of them will do that without any regard for the search results the website is producing.

Now let’s dig into the two approaches that I mentioned that are usually taken in these misleading efforts.

The deceiver will highlight a bunch of things that are truly not affecting the website’s ability to search well and draw in customers.

Some of the favorite focus areas here are load speed, citations or listings, and AMP.

Is load speed important? Yes, it is. Load speed is a known factor that Google uses in the search algorithm. However, some predatory marketing or SEO agencies would have you believe that load speed is the number one factor in search. That is not proving to be true at all.

As far as citations, also known as listings, there are only a handful of these that are still relevant. Chances are good that you are probably already focused on them. They are Google, Facebook, Yelp, Bing and Yahoo. Why would Google care what City Search says about your business? Google owns search. Nobody has used City Search to find a local business in at least 10 years.

AMP is just not relevant to auto repair shops.

What to do

First, check your search results. If you are showing up on the first page of the search results for auto repair, car repair and other keywords related to your most important services, then disregard any of these false claims.

If you are not seeing the search results you would like to see, load speed could be an issue. However, there are several factors that could be impacting your results. Load speed may not be affecting your website at all. Reach out to your website provider to ask them to investigate your search results and ask if load speed could be affecting them negatively.

When it comes to citations and listings, make sure your business information is accurate on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Bing and Yahoo. You should also check industry sources that you currently have profiles on. That may include any groups or associations of which you are a member. Don’t worry about any other listings.

Manipulating marketing companies will hold your website to a standard that can only be met by the biggest brands.

Usually the biggest “errors” they highlight here are backlinks (links from other websites going to your website) and social media.

We recently looked at a report that was sent to one of our clients that gave them an F for Links and an F for Social Media. The F for links highlighted that they had 365 external backlinks. That’s actually a pretty good number for an auto repair shop! It is just plain deceptive to give them an F for that and shows no recognition of the true competition for the business. They are not competing with the world, they are competing in their local market.

They received the F for Social Media because they only had a Facebook page and didn’t have Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn profiles, or a YouTube channel. If you can consistently use those social media channels for your auto repair shop then that is great. If you don’t have the time, you are going to get a much bigger benefit from putting the time you do have into one channel and not spreading yourself too thin by trying to use everything. As for social media’s impact on SEO, it’s believed by experts to be minimal at best.

What to do

Backlinks are important. If you haven’t already done so, work to get links to your website from local organizations and businesses in your area. Chambers of commerce, non-profit organizations you support and businesses that you can partner with are all good potential sources for links. Just ask them if they’d be willing to put a link to your website up on their website.

As far as social media, first determine how much time or money you have to spend on it. Social media can be a very valuable way to connect with customers and remind them that you are there to help them with all their auto repair and maintenance needs. But it can also be a huge time suck if you are not disciplined about your time or if you’re not sure what to do. Don’t overextend your efforts. You will likely see the best bang for your buck by focusing on Facebook, Instagram and Nextdoor (if you count that as social media and they have it in your area).

“Nobody can find your shop on the web!”

Usually the evil companies trying to exploit you using this lie will say that they didn’t find you in the Local Pack.

Google search local pack and map

The Local Pack is the box that includes three or four businesses that shows up high on Google’s search engine results page right next to the map. There are several things that are deceptive about this approach:

         1.   The Local Pack results are significantly weighted by location. The people perpetrating this lie just search for something like “auto repair Cleveland” from wherever they sit and then use those results to scare you. These are not the same results that a consumer who was actually in Cleveland searching for an auto repair shop would see.

         2.   Somebody looking for an auto repair shop is likely to click on the “More businesses” button at the bottom of the Local Pack to see the full list of options. They’ll want to see more options so they can see their Google review rating and other factors.

         3.   Probably most important – the majority of searchers click on the organic search results that show up below the Local Pack. The Local Pack is still important because around 1 in 3 consumers looking for local services will click there. But 1 in 2 consumers will click on the organic search results. If your website is showing up in the organic search results, that is what is most important.

What to do

Check for yourself. Search for “auto repair” in a few places around town. Are you showing up in the Local Pack? When you click on “More businesses” do you show up in the top 10? Is your website showing up in the organic search results?

If you don’t see your shop anywhere in the results, reach out to your website provider and ask them to take a look at how you are doing in local and organic search. If you manage your own website, ask somebody you trust in your network that knows a thing or two about websites if they can find your website and what they might suggest to help you search well if they can’t.

The Good News

I promise you, not all marketing firms are manipulative, self-interested jerks that only care about taking your money. There are several who do want to help you and your shop grow and prosper.

Please feel free to reach out to me If you have questions about anything I covered here at martin.morgan@repairshopwebsites.com or 919-600-5166. I love to help small businesses and I hate to see business owners get taken advantage of by deceptive practices.

Should I Offer Texting or Chat on My Auto Repair Shop Website?

October 17th, 2022

Your website is one of the first opportunities that most potential customers have to interact with your shop. Anything you can do to make it easier for them to contact you provides you with more opportunities to win their business. That’s why click-to-call was such a great invention.

While click-to-call is still very relevant to today’s consumer, you may be missing opportunities with those potential customers who prefer not to call a business. With the growing number of consumers who would like a near immediate response but prefer not to use the phone is it better to offer texting or a chat?

We would say texting, and here are three reasons why:

#1 – Consumers prefer and are comfortable with texting

In a recent survey by Leadferno, more than 37% of consumers said they prefer to communicate via text.

How do consumers prefer to communicate?

And notably, more than 44% of consumers aged 35 to 54 prefer to communicate via text.

How do consumers aged 35 to 54 prefer to communicate?

If consumers are already very comfortable communicating by text, and with many of them preferring it, it sure seems like you would want to open up that line of communication for them. Providing an easy opportunity for them to reach out to you via text on your website could significantly break down the barriers for that initial contact.

#2 – Texting is better than Live Chat for the consumer and the business.

I have tried to use live chat on many websites and I usually have one of two experiences. One – I type in a fairly simple question and get a quick answer which doesn’t fully answer my question. So I type in the follow up question…and wait…wait a few more minutes…start to ask myself when I tried to start this conversation…wait a few more minutes…and then frustratingly close the session because I’ve got other stuff to do.

The second scenario starts the same way – I ask a question and get an answer that doesn’t fully answer my question. Then I’ll spend additional time going back and forth with the AI or the person before I get the message that they cannot answer my question and I’m going to have to call a certain number to ask and start completely from the beginning.

You’ve probably experienced something similar. Both of these situations are extremely frustrating. After the experience, if I have a choice to do business with somebody else I will. When I think of chat I want it to be instant, and to fully answer my questions. I’ve come across very few businesses or systems that are able to deliver on that promise.

On the business side, I know it’s difficult to deliver on that promise. No business can afford to have somebody waiting around for a chat to come in so that they can be immediately responsive. It’s almost like a chat box sets you up to disappoint the customer.

With texting, I’m willing to give much more time for a response because I’m not stuck in a chat window. I’m not expecting an immediate response. If I get one within five minutes then that’s fantastic. If it’s 20 to 30 minutes that’s still really good. If it’s within an hour that’s also okay and even longer may be okay in certain circumstances.

From a business standpoint, you should know that 90% of text messages are read within three minutes. In addition to buying you time to respond, texting also increases the likelihood that you’ll get a quick response back and you won’t lose the customer to a closed chat window. And now you have that potential customer’s number for future text conversation. You get no such thing through chat. When it’s over it’s over and you’ve got no way to reach back out to the potential customer.

#3 – Texting is easy

For many consumers, convenience is now one of the major factors in their likelihood to do business with a local service provider. The easier you make it to do business with you, the more likely you are to get their business. Most consumers will be happy to give you the right to text them because they believe it will make their lives easier.

Including a text box on your website enables them to easily reach out to you. Auto replies can be used to confirm immediately that you received their text and to set expectations for when they can expect a reply. The right platform will provide notifications and an easy way to respond. You can also attach photos and videos.

Utilizing texting fits nicely in the normal flow of your customers’ days, making it easy for them, and it should be easy for you to build it into your workflow as well.

In a nutshell, texting provides the opportunity for your potential customers to communicate with you in the way that they prefer and are most comfortable. It gives you the opportunity to establish a stronger, longer-lasting connection with them that’s easier for both parties. If you are not currently offering texting to your customers, now is a great time to consider it.

Repair Shop Websites is partnering with Leadferno to offer a website and texting platform integration to help auto repair shops leverage their website to drive leads that quickly lead to sales. If you are interested in learning more, please call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Annual Planning for Your Auto Repair Shop

September 28th, 2022

As we get ready to crossover into the fourth quarter, we turn to a time when many organizations start their annual planning process. There are lots of different ways to do this and it’s truly up to you to determine what process will work best for your auto repair shop. You don’t have to do it at this time of year either. What is important though is that you take the time to do it at least annually.

If you are a small business owner who is working in the business consistently it can be really difficult to rise up 15,000 feet and look at the business from that viewpoint. You are free to decide that you want to move forward with the same mix of services, products, vendors, etc. But that should be a conscious decision and not a default decision to just rinse and repeat because you didn’t make the time to plan or strategize.

How do you do it well and what should be considered? Here’s a list of steps and some of the things you want to pay attention to, the full list will depend on what type of shop you are now and what you aspire to be.

Calendar - October 2022

Schedule Time

This sounds obvious, but if you don’t do it, it’s not likely to happen. Choose a day or two on the calendar and block off the time specifically for strategic planning. Be sure that whoever you want to participate in the discussions can be available as well. Give yourself time to get input from customers and/or other team members, if you want their feedback. You may not want it and that’s okay. Just be sure that you and anybody else that will be involved has time to get any numbers and data, as well as to conduct necessary conversations, before the meeting.

Beige Business SWOT Analysis Graph

Choose a Process or Format

A simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis can be a great way to start your planning process. Just be sure your strengths and weaknesses are internally focused and that your opportunities and threats are externally focused. After you conduct your SWOT you can use that information to create your plan for next year.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is also a great tool. You can get the benefits of it without having to fully embrace every aspect of it. You can establish a 10-year target, 3-year picture and then 1-year plan. Or if you feel like 10 years is too far out, you can just cut that and build a 3-year picture and 1-year plan.

If you have time you can combine a SWOT with EOS tools to develop a very comprehensive plan. There are several others out there that may work best for you and your shop. The key thing is just that, find one that will work best for you.

Goal Board

Determine What You Will Focus On

You could spend a bunch of time on too many things and really not make any progress. You want to look at as much as you can that you will be able to act on. Some significant pieces to consider:

Goals – You should consider long-term and short-term goals. This is how you measure success. Where do you want the shop to be in 10 years, 5 years, 1 year? Even if you don’t want to utilize the EOS tools, you should establish these goals to help inform your choices on everything else.

Services – Should you continue to offer all the services you do now? Are there services that you should add to more broadly serve the market? Are there services that you should cut because the demand is not really there or you can’t provide them in a profitable way?

Products – Depending on what type of shop you run this may or may not apply to you. Of the “products” that you sell, which ones are most profitable and which ones provide you with very little benefit? Is there something else you could add to the mix that would be more profitable or open up the opportunity for profitable jobs?

Vendors – That’s a natural lead in to vendors. Who is giving you great service? Who isn’t? Do you have alternatives that would cost less or serve you much better?

Pricing – With inflation the way it is most auto repair shops have increased their prices. You should be looking at annual increases at least. What service prices do you need to increase because of your costs? What service prices should you increase because of the value it provides to customers? Especially now, you need to give your pricing a thorough look.

Efficiency/Workflow – Are things moving as efficiently as possible at your shop? Are you down a couple people and now your processes don’t work the way they used to? Is this hurting your profit margins or the customer experience? Is it negatively affecting employees? Determine what adjustments need to be made.

Marketing – Are the things you are currently doing to bring new customers into the door working? Do you need to increase your efforts? Change them up to attract a different type of customer? Are your efforts to bring customers back working? Are you planning to increase your capacity or do you want significant growth?

Customer Service – Without customers you have no business. How has customer feedback been recently? How have your reviews been looking? Are you serving customers well and making them a priority? Or are they being made to feel like they are a complication in the life of the shop?

These are just some of the areas you can examine. You should choose the ones that stand to have the biggest impact on your shop. Depending on the availability of resources at your shop you might pick five to 20 initiatives to accomplish over the next year.

The suggestions here should at least help you get a good start on your planning process. Your annual planning should go hand in hand with your budget planning. Many of the initiatives you choose will have dollar figures attached.

If you have questions, would like additional information on annual planning or are interested in how we can help you attract new customers, please call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Bad Passwords and 8 Other Cyber Security Errors to Avoid

September 8th, 2022

Have you heard a story about a large company suffering a cyber attack and thought to yourself, “I’m glad that we are too small to worry about that”? Well, I’m sorry to tell you that you absolutely do need to worry about cyber attacks on your auto repair shop.

Now that cyber attackers have gotten what they could from large companies they are targeting smaller businesses. They can much more easily get what they want from hitting 100 small companies with no security measures in place than they can from trying to hit a larger company with more mature security practices.

What does this mean for your auto repair shop? You are much more likely to get targeted. The good news is that by implementing basic security policies and by practicing caution you can greatly reduce the chances that any attack will be effective.

Avoid these slip-ups to protect your business and your finances:

bad password

1. Using weak passwords

Don’t use passwords that you use elsewhere. Use one password one time. Don’t pick a password that someone might guess. Create passwords that include capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. If you violate these recommendations with any of your current passwords, please change them now, or at least tonight.

2. Storing passwords where they can be found

Be extremely careful about storing your passwords in your web browser or your personal device. If you do that, be sure that you lock your device (computers and phones) when you are not actively using it. Do not write passwords down and leave them in plain view.

A much better plan is to use a password manager. Bitwarden, LastPass, Dashlane and Keeper all offer free versions that are recommended. The paid versions include features that are even more important for business owners.

3. Posting answers to those “15 Things You Should Know About Me” threads on Facebook

Cyber attackers absolutely use those types of posts to get information about you that they can then use to try to figure out your passwords. Think about it, what types of things does your bank ask you to be sure it’s you…first pet name, mother’s maiden name, street you grew up on…

4. Leaving your computer unlocked when you step away from it

You may not realize it, but it would be pretty easy for somebody to pull all of the data they need to ruin your business off your shop’s main computer while you stepped away to check on a car or go to the bathroom. With all the people that come in and out of your shop during a regular day it wouldn’t be that hard for somebody who was neither a customer nor a vendor to wait for a time when your shop was busy, walk into it when you are distracted, and walk out of it with access to all of your accounts. Lock your computer every time you step away from it.

5. Clicking on links in suspicious emails

If you get an email that seems suspicious, don’t click on any links in it. If it seems to be from somebody you know or somebody that appears to be a potential customer, call them to verify. Think before you click!

6. Opening attachments in suspicious emails

Tell me if you’ve heard this before… if you get an email that seems suspicious, don’t click on any attachments. Many file types can hold malware, including PDFs and Microsoft Office documents.

7. Fulfilling requests from suspicious emails

We can all now laugh about the emails that we used to get from the Prince of Nigeria who needed our bank account info so he could wire us a million dollars. But there are similar modern schemes that are going around that are much trickier. If you know the sender, call them to verify the request. If you don’t know the sender, you should probably just delete the email. If something seems too good to be true it almost definitely is.

8. Throwing away documents that may have important information on them

You may take for granted that when you put paper in the garbage it ends up in a dumpster or recycling bin. But how often are you throwing paper in the trash that may have sensitive information on it, like that password you didn’t want to forget or a customer’s credit card number? All such paper should be shredded. In fact, it may be the best policy to shred all paper waste.

9. Not educating your team about these important security measures

While it’s very important for you to know these things as the business owner, your cyber security is only as strong as your weakest link. Be sure to share all these things with your employees. Make sure they understand the key points and how important they are. Tell them that if they see something they think might be suspicious they need to report it as soon as possible.

Treat all nine of these things as if your business depends on them…because it does.

8 Ways to Get More Business into Your Auto Repair Shop Quickly Without Spending a Lot of Money

August 15th, 2022

In ideal circumstances, you will not find yourself in the position of needing to bring in more business to your auto repair shop quickly. But right now we are in unprecedented times as far as all the things that are happening in the American economy.

So whether you are in need now, or want to put a plan in place in case you need to bring in new business during a slowdown or dry spell, the following eight ideas can help. The ideas are mostly low cost, with the cost really going into the time for somebody to execute on them.

If you’ve got plenty of cash to spend to increase your car count, then you may also want to consider Google Ads. But I’m going to assume that if you are reading this article you probably don’t have a trunk of cash in the back room that you can put into additional marketing.

Here are eight ideas to help you get more business into your auto repair shop quickly without spending a lot of money, listed in order from what would likely produce the quickest results to those that we’d expect to take longer:

Call on customers, especially those who opted to not get work done that you recommended and those that should be due for maintenance services

Let’s get some appointments on the schedule! It’s always easier and less expensive to bring current customers back than to obtain a new customer. Leverage your shop management system to see who should be due for maintenance and who put off recommended work until their next appointment.

Call those customers and ask them if now is a good time for them to come into the shop for their next maintenance service or for the repair or service that they put off. If they scheduled an appointment previously that is still a month or so out, still call them and ask if it would be more convenient if they came this week or next week. People’s schedules change all the time and you may be able to give them a better alternative sooner.

Oil Change Special example

Post a special offer on social media

Utilize Facebook, Instagram and your Google Business Profile to post a special offer. And by special, I don’t mean deep discount, but a good offer that will attract customers. Again, make it expire in a couple weeks.

Don’t post a link to your website with the offer on Facebook though. If you do, it won’t show up your followers’ news feeds. Ask them to call you or Facebook Message you to set up an appointment.

Participate in a local event

Often times the cost to have a small table or some other role in connecting with the community at a local event is really low. This gives you an opportunity to talk to potential customers and share information about your shop. More than anything though, remember that people want to take their vehicles to somebody they trust. Build credibility and trust by building genuine connections. If you want to get people into your shop quickly, provide an offer that expires within a couple weeks.

Nextdoor feed

Ask a loyal, happy customer to recommend you on Nextdoor

Nextdoor is the online platform that many people get their hyper local news and recommendations from – everything from local road closures to home service businesses to new restaurants to auto repair shops. If there is a Nextdoor neighborhood forum in your area, ask a happy customer if they’d be willing to post a recommendation for you on there. It’s frowned on for businesses to make their own post to promote themselves but encouraged for individuals to post about a great experience they had at a business.

Give customers who come into the shop a flyer or card to hand to a referral with a special deal

This is a great way to keep your excellent service top of mind and to give a customer a chance to help out a family member, friend or neighbor. People like to make recommendations to others and if they can provide an incentive, then they are even more likely to talk about that auto repair shop that always takes good care of them. The deal you offer doesn’t even have to be huge savings for them, as long as you make a big deal out of it. And make sure you knock it out of the park when the referral comes in.

Partner with a complimentary business in town (or multiples)

An obvious one would be a car wash and detail facility. We also have customers who are strictly service that will work with strictly tire shops. By working together they can keep all the customer’s business within their two facilities. Roadside assistance or towing companies could also be a good partner. There are many other businesses that could work beyond this. The more you get involved with your community the more likely you are to find partners.

Join a local business/referral group

There are several different types of groups that may be operating in your area. Or perhaps there is an organically grown group. Join the group. Try to help out as many of the members as you can by providing leads to them. As soon as the group sees you are helping others, they’ll quickly do their best to feed you business too.

Partner with large businesses in the area to see if you can offer your services to their employees

Depending on the area you serve this may or may not apply to your shop. But if you have a few large businesses around you it wouldn’t hurt to ask them if they’d be willing to allow you to offer your services to their employees as a perk with free pick up and delivery of their vehicle. For most people there is nothing more important than time these days. Providing this service while they are working with minimal disruption to them is a great time saver.

The key to getting customers in the door quickly is to diversify the ways that you are trying to connect with the vehicle owners in your community. There are likely to be additional high touch, low cost opportunities beyond the eight mentioned here. It’s also important to provide an offer with a call to action and an expiration date.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business perform well in challenging times, call us at 866-665-1605 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you.

How Does a Recession Affect Independent Auto Repair Shops?

August 2nd, 2022

For most industries, a recession is bad news.  During a recession, people make less and spend less.  That means fewer jobs and lower pay, which helps to feed a negative cycle.  While there are very few industries that are recession-proof, there are some that are recession-resistant.


Is auto repair one of those industries?

The answer is yes – but that doesn’t mean that the industry isn’t affected.  For every person who holds on to their vehicle longer (providing more revenue to the shops who maintain them) there’s another person who puts off a needed repair because they can’t afford it. 

Because even the economic experts can’t truly predict what’s going to happen under the current circumstances, we also can’t be sure how a pending recession will actually affect us. And it’s quite possible that the regional or local impacts could be much bigger than the overall national impact.

In short, auto repair shops that survive best during the recession are those that understand how the customers and community are being affected, and adjust their services to help them meet their current challenges.  This isn’t a wordy way of saying that you should lower your prices – if that’s necessary, it’s still only one component of an effective response.

Here are three things that happen during a recession, and what you can do to help address them.

  • Consumers are less able to handle large purchases. When recessions hit, many consumers are forced to dip into savings to handle large expenses – if they have any savings at all.  This is due to job losses and a reduction in hours worked for hourly workers.  Consumers are also less likely to have large lines of credit available, because credit standards tighten during recessions.  Selling maintenance plans and emphasizing warranties will help consumers have confidence that they’ll avoid an expense they can’t afford, and end up without a means of transportation.

  • People hold on to cars longer. People don’t want to make large purchases during a recession, so they hold on to cars instead of trading them in.  Remember “cash for clunkers”?  It was a vehicle trade-in program funded by the government during the late 2000s recession. The program was intended to boost the economy by encouraging people to trade in their old vehicles, in part because dealers were badly hurting for sales.

    People holding on to older vehicles is great news for independent shops, because those older vehicles will need maintenance to stay on the road.  To really benefit from this, however, you’ll need to put time into customer education.  Customers must believe that the trade-off between short-term maintenance and long-term reliability is real, or they may elect to delay maintenance, too.

    If there’s wear on a part, make sure to show the customer what a worn part looks like and what a new part looks like.  Provide customers with an honest explanation of what might reasonably happen if they don’t take a preventative step, and leave the choice to them – once they understand the consequences, they might reconsider their decision to wait.

  • Consumers start to cut costs. It’s often during recessions that new business models overtake old ones.  Some shops may be tempted to start a race to the bottom by cutting their prices to try to get customers in the door.  While customers might not appreciate the cut-rate quality of the parts and service they’d get for the cheaper price, a product like this is primed to take off during a recession, where people are looking for easy ways to cut costs.

    As your customers go down their bank statement looking for monthly transactions to cut, will your shop stand out as a cost-cutting opportunity?  That may depend on whether they view the service your shop provides as a cost or an investment.

    Do your customers understand and appreciate all the value they get from having a home for their car that’s staffed by technicians they trust?  Every time you present customers with information about their car that will help them make good decisions in the future, you’re reminding them of what they’re going to lose if they move to the cheapest alternative in town. 

    Take advantage of the opportunities you get to influence and connect with customers, because you’re not likely to be a part of the conversation when they decide whether price-shopping for cheaper shops is worth it when they’re in a financial pinch!

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business perform well in challenging times, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Want to Supercharge Your Facebook Results? Use the Three E’s!

July 28th, 2022

If your efforts to leverage Facebook to connect with potential customers and grow the awareness of your auto repair shop have fallen flat, read on for tips on how to nurse it back to health and help it thrive.

Unfortunately, many repair shops have heard the message that Facebook is critical for their business…without understanding how to successfully utilize it. If you are approaching Facebook with a “sell, sell, sell” philosophy then you’ve likely done more harm than good and you’d be better off buying Facebook ads. Followers who see that approach will either turn you off or ignore you.

You have to earn the right to get your followers’ attention. We recommend that you use the 80/20 rule, which we outlined in our post from two years ago – 4 Great Facebook Posts for Auto Repair Shops. If you haven’t read that, I encourage you to.

The way to earn your followers’ attention is to Educate, Engage and Entertain!

Educate

Help people understand as much about their vehicle as possible. Teach them how to take care of their car or truck, and how to prolong its life. Help them understand how the way they drive affects their vehicle.

A lot of these things may seem very basic to you as an expert, but the average car owner doesn’t live in your world. Also, don’t be afraid that you are giving away too much information that would allow a DIYer to make repairs or conduct maintenance on their own. The right audience will greatly appreciate your efforts to help them understand their vehicle, will see you as the expert and will reach out to you any time they need service.

Here are a handful of categories of potential educational Facebook posts:

  • How do the different parts of a vehicle work and/or what’s their purpose?
  • What do certain sounds mean from their vehicle?
  • How to prepare for and deal with emergencies
  • What is truly an emergency
  • How to clean specific parts of their vehicle
  • Safe driving tips

Engage

To truly connect with your followers and help them remember your shop, you want to get them involved. You want to try to get them to respond to your post, whether that be likes, or better yet, actual typed responses. Ask them about things they will care about. They don’t have to be things that are automotive-related. Try to make it personal.

Our post from two years ago – 11 Ways to Boost Your Auto Repair Shop’s Facebook Engagement – includes some great ideas for specific posts, and here are some additional ideas:

  • First car
  • Favorite car
  • Favorite road trip
  • Tie-ins to local events
  • Tie-ins to current events

Entertain

If all you do is focus on Educating and Engaging, that is absolutely fine. You will still be using Facebook better than 90% of all the auto repair shops out there. BUT, if you are willing to take the plunge and make the effort to entertain your followers, you can drive the connection to a whole new level.

Right now, entertaining videos are all the rage and the quickest way to go viral. Think of the popularity of TikTok. You don’t have to try to be the next TikTok superstar, but if you can easily shoot some videos with some comedy on your phone, you could make your shop more memorable in your potential customers’ minds. And you can also boost your chances of them sharing those videos with their friends, further expanding your memorability.

Again, this is optional, but great if you are willing to do it.

Earn the opportunity to promote

These three e’s lead us to a bonus e, which is Earning the opportunity to promote. If you use the vast majority of your Facebook posts to Educate, Engage and Entertain your followers, you will Earn the opportunity to promote your business. That enables you to post your promotions and your calls-to-action if somebody needs maintenance or repair, without them getting the impression that all you do is sell, sell, sell.

Facebook is a place people go to connect with friends, family and community. By seeking to connect with them first in that way, you will be able to multiply the value of your efforts on the platform.

If you’d like to learn more about how we help our customers Educate and Engage their audience, call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!

How Google Reviews Win You Business

June 29th, 2022

When one of your potential customers searches for auto repair on Google they see a list of shops they could call. But how do they most often decide what shop or shops to call? They look at reviews!

But how do they get there and what do they specifically look for in reviews? Read on for more…

Searching for Auto Repair

When a consumer in your area searches on the web for the auto repair services that you provide, there are two key factors that determine if your shop will show up in the Local Pack and the Map (see image below) – how close your shop is to the person conducting the search and the primary category you have chosen on your Google Business Profile. It’s believed by experts that Google does consider some other factors but not nearly as much as they weigh the location and primary category.

Google search local pack and map

So there’s not much you can do to influence where you show up in these local searches. Pick the primary category that makes the most sense for your business, usually Auto Repair Shop, and make sure your address and contact information is correct.

However, it’s one thing to be found and another to be chosen. How do you increase your odds of getting chosen? Reviews!

Reviews Help Consumers Decide What Repair Shop to Call

The Whitespark 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors survey asked SEO experts what they’ve seen to be the most impactful factors for how consumers decide what local businesses to contact when they are looking for local services.

Top 20 GMB Conversion Factors

Reviews dominated the results. Four of the top five factors in the survey were related to reviews. Let’s dive into those factors.

#1 – High Numerical Google Ratings (e.g. 4-5)

The biggest factor, by a large margin, is your average star rating for your reviews.

What to Do

Search for “auto repair” and look at the listings of the shops that show up in the Local Pack and the Map. How does your average star rating compare to theirs? If it’s better, great. If it’s about the same or worse than the competition, then you want to try to improve it. The best way to do that is to start consistently asking for reviews from your happy customers.

#2 – Positive Sentiment in Review Text

Consumers do care about the content in the reviews. They want to read about the experience that your customers have had. What they are really looking for here is called social proof. Essentially it’s as much evidence as they can get that they won’t be making a mistake in choosing your shop because so many other customers have already chosen it and been happy with the results.

What to Do

When you ask your happy customers to leave you a review, encourage them to include details about the service they received and the experience. Most shops do not ask for this, so you can gain a significant advantage by being one of the few that does.

(#3 is Completeness of Google Business Profile listing which we will skip over because it is not review related.)

#4 – Quantity of Native Google Reviews (w/ text)

The number of reviews matters. It’s also significantly important that they include comments. Consumers will be very doubtful if they see that your shop has a whole bunch of five star reviews with no comments.

What to Do

I’m sure you are noticing a theme here – consistently ask for reviews from your happy customers. This will help you continue to grow the number of reviews your shop has.

#5 – Recency of Reviews

If your shop hasn’t received a review in a while consumers may not be sure you are even in business. With the rapid change that has occurred over the last two and a half years consumers like to see signs that a business is still open. With inconsistency in staffing and service levels, they’d also like to be able to see that somebody that was at your shop a week ago got the same great service as somebody who was there a year ago.

What to Do

If you haven’t received a good review in a while you should reach out to a few recent happy customers and ask them to leave you one. And…start consistently asking happy customers for reviews

Google Reviews Are Well Worth Asking For

We’ve covered the importance of reviews many times – from our podcast on the impact of reviews to our blog on how to make your auto repair shop’s reviews stand out to our blog about why you should respond to your reviews. This survey of SEO experts is just the latest evidence that reviews are important. In this instance, they have a very large impact on how consumers choose what repair shop they are going to reach out to. If you aren’t on the review train yet, you want to get on it before it runs you over!

Our Integrated Reviews platform helps our customers get more online reviews. To learn how we can help do that for your auto repair shop, call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!

Technicians Answer: What’s the Most Important Aspect of a Job?

May 16th, 2022

To better understand what automotive technicians feel the most important aspects of a job are, we worked with our partner WrenchWay to survey techs on the question. Here is what we found:

What is the most important aspect of a job for auto repair technicians?

Put in order, they were ranked:

  • 38.8% Pay
  • 30.6% Work environment
  • 22.5% Training and development opportunities
  • 6.1% Paid time off
  • 2.0% Benefits
  • 0.0% Perks

Pay is the #1 factor for auto repair techs

As you can see, pay came in at the top as the most important aspect of a job. One of the participants probably summed up what many were thinking when they said, “All of those are extremely important but if the pay isn’t there then what’s the point?”

Pay is important but it’s impact on employee satisfaction isn’t as large as many employers may think. What the polling firm Gallup has found is that when people hate their job, they feel like they aren’t being paid fairly. However, people who love their job consider themselves “satisfied” even if they wish that they made more money.

Work Environment is also very important to technicians

That leads directly to the factor that came in second – work environment. It was a very close second. This is the factor that we find is greatly underestimated by auto repair shops. The shop of 30 or 40 years ago is not likely to have the type of work environment that many younger techs are attracted to.

Pay and work environment go hand in hand here. Maybe you’ve heard somebody say, “They don’t pay me enough to deal with this.” That’s a work environment problem. If you have a hard time attracting and/or keeping employees, you may want to take a hard look at your work environment.

Notably, the other point from Gallup is true too – a great work environment will in most cases prevent your people from leaving you for that one-to-two dollar per hour raise they may be able to get down the street. If you are providing a work environment where your employees feel like they are supported, cared for and appreciated they won’t even be tempted to look elsewhere.

Training and development opportunities should not be overlooked

Training and development opportunities follow in third place, but at 22.5% they should definitely not be overlooked. If you don’t currently have those opportunities built into the jobs at your shop you should consider how you can do so. That is also a good talking point when you are interviewing potential candidates. If you can tell them that you have a training plan for each of the roles at your shop, or at least for the one they are interviewing for, you can increase the likelihood that they will choose you. This is especially true if you are interviewing younger techs.

Paid time off, benefits and perks came in well behind the other three. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t a factor, but that for most techs they are less of a factor than the other three.

It’s important to remember that any one person’s happiness with a job usually factors in many elements. The same is true for a candidate’s evaluation of whether a job offer will be a good fit for them. This survey helps us better understand that in the mind of most techs pay, work environment, and training and development opportunities are the top three factors, by a large margin, in their decision to take a new job. If you haven’t made investments in those three areas, now is the time to do so to make sure you stay competitive in the hot labor market.

We can make your shop look great online to help you attract high quality technician candidates. If you’d like to learn more about our services, please call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!