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For Auto Repair Shops Facebook Is a Bad Substitute for a Website

January 14th, 2022

We have heard auto repair shop owners tell us, “We don’t need a website, we are on Facebook.” If you have all the business you’ll ever need from current customers AND have gotten all of your customers to follow you on Facebook, then that statement might be true.

But for the vast majority of auto repair shops a Facebook profile will be a very poor substitute for a website. Here’s why:

Consumers use Google to find auto repair shops

In a 2020 survey from BrightLocal, 93% of consumers said they use the internet to find local businesses. The first place people go when they want to find local service businesses is Google … by a very large margin. A website is going to give you the best chance to be found on Google by those potential customers. That’s because they are used to typing the name of the service they want into the search bar and then looking at the organic search results for options they want to consider.

That’s not how Facebook works. Unless somebody searches for your auto repair shop by name, potential customers are not going to find you on Facebook. The only place you’ll be seen on Facebook is in the news feed of people who already follow you when you make posts. You are significantly limiting your audience by substituting a Facebook profile for a website.

And as you can see in the screen shot of the organic search results above, Facebook profiles very rarely show up in the organic results. In fact, in that search there was not a single Facebook profile that showed up in the first 10 search engine results pages.

Facebook doesn’t like to show business posts in the news feed

Facebook’s algorithm determines what posts a user will see in their news feed. Facebook’s goal is to give the user more of what they want so that they will stay on Facebook as long as possible. People interact more with posts from friends and family so Facebook is more likely to show those posts than they are the posts that are coming from your business. Plus, they would rather make you pay for advertising to be seen in the news feed.

Regardless, you still want to be sure that you are posting consistently. Remember, your only chance to be seen is by posting frequently. Contrast that with a website, which you do want to keep updated but you certainly don’t have to remember to update every day or every other day.

Consumers expect credible auto repair shops to have a website

Right or wrong, perception is reality. While consumers may be willing to buy a t-shirt directly from Instagram, they expect more from a business that they are trusting to maintain or repair their vehicle. Credibility is extremely important for auto repair shops. Your website can provide that credibility.

When consumers can’t find a website for a repair shop they are going to think twice about calling them. They’ll question the credibility or just assume the shop is closed. Then you’ve lost them before you even had a shot to win their business.

You control your website, Facebook has all the control on Facebook

Whether you build and manage your own website, or you work with a service provider like us, you get to make the decisions on the images, content, design, etc. You have a very high level of control over the messages and pictures people see when they go to your website.

You have no such control on Facebook. Facebook is going to do what’s best for Facebook. Just like they control their users’ news feeds, they control what you are able to do with your profile. So, while you may like the “control” you feel you have over your Facebook profile today, that could change pretty quickly tomorrow.

Facebook is a good forum for engaging customers and building your brand but a Facebook profile does not provide the benefits a website does when it comes to attracting new customers and building credibility. If you’ve been relying on Facebook but are now ready to bolster your web presence to help you bring in new customers, call us today at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you.

7 Website Updates Auto Repair Shops Should Make for 2022

December 16th, 2021

December is always a great time to evaluate how you are utilizing your marketing tools and make changes that will set you up for success in the new year.

If your 2021 has been like many auto repair shops, you haven’t had much of a chance to think about your website while you’ve been dealing with trying to fit customers into your busy schedule. Hopefully you can now come up for air, make up for lost time, and make those updates you may have overlooked over the course of the year.

Here are seven updates you should make to your website as soon as possible:

#1 – Showcase new photos

People love to see photos. If it’s been a while since you last posted photos to your website, you should go through any pictures you’ve taken to see what you have to add. You should especially consider photos of:

  • the inside or outside of your shop
  • the team
  • any special jobs you’ve done
  • community events
  • other things that could matter to potential customers

#2 – Remove services you no longer provide

Lots of things have changed over the last two years. If you still have services listed on your website that you no longer provide you want to take those off as soon as you can. Few things are more frustrating to a potential customer than to narrow down the search for service to one shop only to find out they don’t really provide that service.

#3 – Highlight new services

On the other hand, if there are any new services that you are offering or plan to offer in 2022, you want to add those to your website. Don’t miss a potential opportunity by not listing all the services you offer on your website.

#4 – Add new procedures or attributes

Have you changed your procedures recently (or maybe not so recently) but forgotten to make sure that update is on your website? You may have tightened your procedures or loosened them. You may now be doing pick up and drop off for customers. You may have added wi-fi connectivity in your shop. Whatever changes you’ve made, make sure they are included on your website.

#5 – Spotlight new program membership

Have you recently joined a manufacturer’s or distributor’s program group? Include that logo on your website. Highlighting that branding can help you build credibility and attract new customers.

#6 – Feature new specials or coupons

Get those specials or coupons up for the new year now so you can catch those people who have been putting off maintenance or repair until after January 1.

#7 – Emphasize what makes your shop a great place to work

To this point this list has been made up of things that can influence potential customers to choose your shop. But if hiring is a bigger challenge for you right now than attracting new customers, then you want to be sure that your website is a tool that you are using to attract good candidates.

Make sure you are highlighting why your shop is a great place to work on your Careers page. Go beyond just listing open jobs and spell out the details. What is your work environment like? What programs do you have in place for training? What employee-friendly policies do you have? What perks do you offer?

This is definitely another place that you want to include photos. Include pictures of some of the fun things you’ve done as a team.

And importantly, highlight these things on your home page as well. Include one of those team photos as one of your hero images at the top of your home page with the text “Are you looking to join a great team?”.

Kickoff 2022 by making sure that your website is up to date and that you are leveraging it to bring in both good customers and good job candidates.

We can help you look great online and take care of any updates your website needs, making life much easier for you when it comes to marketing. If that sounds good to you, call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!

The 5 Most Important Online Review Factors

November 22nd, 2021

For many auto repair shops Google reviews serve as the modern-day word of mouth. Most repair shop owners acknowledge that point and realize that they need to get more reviews. But there is a difference between knowing something and knowing how to do it well. And that can sometimes hold repair shop owners back from asking for reviews.

We recently highlighted how to ask for Google reviews and what to ask for on The Busy Bays Podcast. In this article we’ll take it further, covering the five most important review factors and how they should impact your efforts to get reviews.

Thankfully, Brightlocal performed an excellent survey toward the end of 2020 – the Local Consumer Review Study 2020 – that provides us with data and insight to serve as guidance when it comes to reviews. In the survey they identified the five most important review factors as #1 star rating, #2 legitimacy, #3 recency, #4 sentiment and #5 quantity.

The 5 Most Important Online Review Factors

Star rating

As you might expect, the most important factor for consumers is your average star rating.

What to do:
Keep asking happy customers for reviews to keep that star rating high. It also provides you with some padding for when you get that bad review that will inevitably come. Unfortunately, many shops don’t think about getting lots of good reviews until the bad one comes in and then it’s too late.

The good news is that most consumers don’t expect any business to be perfect. If they see a couple one or two star reviews among a sea of five and four star reviews, they won’t likely be concerned. But if you only have 10 reviews and two of them are bad, you probably just lost a potential customer.

Legitimacy

Consumers like to see proof that reviews are legit.

What to do:
A large number of five star reviews without any comments are likely to make a consumer question if they are valid. So when you ask for a review, ask your customer to mention the services you provided and/or the experience they had with your shop. The references show that the review is legitimate. Reviews that mention specific services can also help you show up higher in the Local Pack (https://www.repairshopwebsites.com/what-is-the-local-pack-and-why-does-it-matter-for-auto-repair-shops/) when consumers in your area search for those services.

Recency

73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month.

What to do:
Here’s another reason why it’s important to consistently ask happy customers for reviews. If you are doing that, this one should take care of itself.

If you are having trouble figuring out who to ask, ask your most loyal customers, the ones that keep coming back to the shop. Another way to do it is to set a goal to ask one or two customers each day. Once you start listening for queues with that goal in mind it will become easier.

Sentiment

I generally knew what this meant, but I had to look up the official definition of the word sentiment to be sure. Sentiment is a view of, or attitude toward, a situation or event; an opinion.

What to do:
This is where those reviews in which a customer shares their experience really come into play. People want to be comforted. They want to know that they won’t be making a mistake by choosing your shop. If they can read about others’ positive experiences it will set their mind at ease.

When you know you’ve really helped somebody who was in a difficult situation, be sure to tell them that it would really mean a lot to you if they would leave a review on Google. In most instances they will be happy to do so.

Quantity

The number of reviews your shop has does matter, but please note, this is the fifth most important factor.

What to do:
Did we mention you should consistently ask for reviews? 😊

It can be difficult to ask for reviews during the daily hustle and bustle of an auto repair shop. But, if you make it part of your process and do it consistently it will pay big dividends in helping you keep an excellent online reputation and attract more customers to your shop.

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!

Setting New Employees Up for Success

October 18th, 2021

As hard as it is to recruit technicians these days, you want to do everything you can to be sure they will have a long, successful tenure at your shop. Unfortunately, the early quit rate (within two years of starting) is painfully high for employers in almost all industries.

The first few weeks and months that somebody is working at your shop has a huge impact on how long they are likely to stay with you. Just like building a house, you are setting a foundation in those early days. Build a strong one and that house will stand for a good, long time. Fail to invest in your materials or take shortcuts and the first strong wind may take that house down.

So how do you avoid the vicious cycle of hire, train, quit, rehire? Or more likely, the much worse recruit, recruit, recruit, hire, train, quit, recruit, recruit, recruit, rehire? Bruce Tulgan and his Rainmaker Thinking workplace research team have decades of research on this topic so we’ll take a good look at what they’ve identified as the top four causes of early departures and how to avoid those issues at your shop.

Top 4 Reasons Employees Quit Within 2 Years

#1 – Buyer’s Remorse or They Feel They Were Oversold the Job

This is where the employee feels like they were presented with a beautiful vision of what the job would be, but they start and the job is actually very different. They were sold on a family-like atmosphere where everybody supports each other, but from day one they can tell that’s really not how the shop operates. And it appears like the other techs don’t like each other at all.

How to Avoid It

You’ve got to be open and honest in the hiring process. Getting a candidate to buy in to a false reality only sets them up for disappointment and failure and puts you on track to live in the vicious cycle of rehiring.

If you have challenges, you should share that with potential hires as you get closer to hiring them. That doesn’t mean you have to share all the dirty laundry but let them know what life is really like in the shop. If you are making efforts to improve things, let them know that they are part of the solution and give them the vision of what you are working toward. In those cases, be sure that you are communicating with them consistently.

#2 – Inadequate Onboarding

It starts on day one and only gets worse from there. A new employee comes in but there is clearly no plan for how to get them up to speed and what they should focus on. Nobody helps them connect to the mission, vision and values, or their colleagues at the shop. Demands start coming at them before they even understand shop procedures.

Four weeks in and it hasn’t gotten any better. They’ve only found out about things when they’ve asked other techs. There is no open line of communication to management. Their biggest influence is the most disgruntled tech in the shop.

How to Avoid It

Create a documented onboarding schedule that will set them up for success. No matter how big or small your shop is, this can have a big impact. You are making a big investment in a person. You want to be sure you are doing everything you can to help them be successful. Think through what they need to know, who do they need to have as a resource, what processes will be critical to their job, what are the expectations for how they communicate to customers, and more.

What do they need to do on day one? What should they know by the end of week one? What do they need to know by the end of the first month? Set up their schedule and give them time for all these things.

I know – you are hiring a tech because you’ve got more work than you can handle and you need them to be productive right away. That’s understandable. But take the time to make this a solid four to eight year investment instead of a four to eight week waste of time.

#3 – Hand-Off to a Disengaged or Unsupportive Manager

You’ve got the new tech fired up to join your team and you’ve presented a picture of what life will be like at your shop. And even on day one you’ve spent most of the day with the new employee and it’s been good. But on day two they get handed off to their actual supervisor, the shop manager, who doesn’t express the same enthusiasm. In fact, they seem to be only focused on getting the work done at all costs – no breaks, no leaving a couple hours early to see a child’s school performance, no “thank-yous” or recognition for a job well done.

How to Avoid It

First, be sure the supervisor/manager is involved in the hiring process. You want to give the potential employee and the manager the chance to connect (or not) and make a good decision based on the result.

This can also fall in the overselling category. Don’t set your manager up for failure by underselling how much work there is to the potential employee.

Finally, make sure you and anybody who will be managing employees at your shop are on the same page. Managing managers is a critically important job. You’ve got to make sure they are aligned with your values and beliefs and are demonstrating those to their direct reports. It’s a well-known truth that people don’t leave organizations they leave managers. If you have a manager that is not managing well, you’ve got to coach them up or coach them out.

#4 – Limited Flexibility

This one can be tough for an auto repair shop, but it is often a significant advantage that independent auto repair shops have over dealerships. Regardless, a tech can’t work from home. But this applies to more than just work location and in a shop could apply to types of jobs, schedules, training, and other things.

How to Avoid It

The key here is to set expectations early on. Let the incoming tech know where the guardrails are on flexibility. Do what you can to be flexible and be open to new ideas. You don’t have to provide the exact same type of flexibility to each and every employee. Understand what matters most to each individual and accommodate and reward them in that way.

Understanding these top four reasons employees quit before they reach their second anniversary can help you put measures in place to avoid it happening in your shop. By conducting a thorough, open and honest hiring process and considering the employee experience when they join your shop, you can set new techs, and your shop, up for long term success.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you bring more vehicles into your shop, and promote your job openings, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

How to Get More Maintenance Work

September 24th, 2021

We talk to a lot of auto repair shops across the country every day. One of the more common challenges that we have heard from shop owners in 2021 is that they would like to get more maintenance work.

To provide our customers with strategies and tactics to help them sell more maintenance work, we hosted a Peer Learning Group in early September and had a special expert presenter in Koole Bolina, a Performance Coach with ATI. Koole has been in the automotive industry since 1998 and he loves to positively influence those who want to do better and be better.

Koole provided a plethora of tips and insights for getting more maintenance work. You’ll have to ask him for all the secrets, but we’ll share five of the many here:

1. Walk out to the car with the customer.

Walk around the vehicle to check on its condition and reconfirm with the customer the details they shared when making the appointment. Establish rapport. Make a personal connection if you can. This is an opportunity for you to build trust and credibility. Don’t allow the drop off to just be transactional. If you stay behind the counter, customers will see you as a ticket agent at the airport.

Auto Repair Shop technician talking to customer

2. Perform a courtesy check on fluids.

Use fluid test strips. For a waiting customer, “show and sell.” If it is a drop off, a picture is worth a thousand words. Point out the issues and talk to them about the levels. Help them understand why it is important to address the issue and what could happen if they don’t. Give them an estimate for any maintenance services. If they are not ready for the service today, see if they’d like to schedule an appointment to come back.

3. Tie maintenance sales to core repairs.

When you sell a brake job, sell a brake flush. If you are replacing a water pump, sell a coolant flush. These are natural combinations and good opportunities. In addition, if you don’t sell a coolant flush at the same time, you’ve left 50% of the old coolant in the system. That older fluid can ruin the part.

4. Put the flush bottles on the service advisor’s desk.

Tell them they can only be moved when they are emptied. Give them the challenge of getting rid of each bottle before the end of the day. This approach keeps those services right in front of them. On day two replace any of the bottles that are missing. Tell them that if they can show you that they can make those bottles move that you’ll keep them off their desk after a few weeks. If you remove the bottles and they stop selling the services, start all over again.

5. Show the customer that you care.

You are making maintenance recommendations because they are in their best interest, but you’ve got to establish a trusting relationship before you start throwing a bunch of additional services at them and they just see dollar signs. Listen well. Don’t allow distractions when you are talking to them. Show empathy. Take an extra step to serve them and let them know you did it. Don’t do this in a “pat yourself on the back” type of way, but in a “we are always going to be looking out for your best interests” type of way.

We thank Koole and ATI for providing such valuable guidance to our customers. ATI (The Automotive Training Institute) is the leading coaching and consulting automotive management company in the United States, with more than 1,600 active members. Since 1980, ATI has been helping independent auto repair and collision repair shop owners improve their businesses and their lives, with proven, measurable and field-tested strategies and practices.

If you’d like us to help you build a web presence to attract more maintenance work (and to connect with shop owners from across the country through our customers-only Peer Learning Groups), contact us today at 855-294-6397 or Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Keeping Your Shop Running Smoothly in the Midst of Chaos

July 28th, 2021

We recently surveyed our customers to ask them how busy they are compared to 2019:

  • 60% said they are seeing more cars than in 2019
  • 25% said about the same number of cars
  • 15% said they are seeing fewer cars than 2019

When you consider the fact that many shops are down one or more technicians compared to 2019, it’s shocking that 85% of them are handling as many or more vehicles than 2019.  Many shops said they are having their best months ever right now.

It’s a problem that many businesses would love to have.  But when your processes are already running at full speed, small problems can quickly become bigger ones.  Delays can lead to vehicle backups, longer working hours and eventually lower productivity levels and technician burnout. The alternative is to reach out to customers with scheduled repairs and push those repair dates out.  That’s not a great recipe for customer satisfaction, and it can do long-term reputational damage.


Here are three things you can do keep your shop running smoothly and avoid that uncomfortable call.

Organize Your Shop Floor for Efficiency

Things can get messy when your shop is too busy.  Unfortunately, that applies to the shop floor, too.  And while it might seem like there’s “just no time” to organize work areas, the reality is that all of those minutes your technicians are looking for misplaced tools or moving vehicles around the shop can add up to hours of lost time.

That’s why it’s important that each day starts out and ends with an organized workspace.  Ideally, nobody should have to search the shop to find where someone left a tool (or where someone put a previously delivered part) during the day.  Everyone should know where vehicles can and cannot stay parked while they’re awaiting parts or attention.  And if you find that a lack of lifts, laptops or other equipment is slowing you down, there’s no better time to take care of that than when you’re bringing in the extra revenue that comes with a very busy shop.

Have a Backup Plan for Parts

Manufacturers of all types are having trouble acquiring shipping container space, and it’s delaying delivery of critical materials. Auto parts manufacturers are getting hit by these delays.  And because material suppliers often wait until a delivery failure is inevitable before alerting the auto part manufacturer, the delays are unpredictable, with parts suppliers sometimes receiving only a few days of notice that material shipments will be weeks late.

A story published in May showed how a shortage of fishing line slowed down oil filter production, and a shipping delay on a 12-cent part stopped production of a major part assembly.  And the Commercial Carrier Journal is reporting this month that fleet mechanics are spending hours tracking down some parts, and part hoarding is making it even worse.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense for you to buy every part you might need over the coming months.  But there may be cases where it does makes sense to buy several of a frequently used part ahead of time.  It’s also probably a good idea to have a backup plan in case your supplier does end up backordered on a part you need for a major repair.

Invest in Your Culture

Hiring technicians has been a challenge for years.  It’s only gotten harder over time, and it’s not expected to get much better in the near future.  Unless you’ve decided to permanently downsize your workforce (and your car count) going forward, now is as good a time as any to start investing in new talent.

“Investing” doesn’t necessarily mean hiring anyone yet.  Due to the intense competition for technicians, only some opportunities will get filled.  Many shop owners make the mistake of thinking that compensation is all that matters to technicians. But the best and the brightest techs are looking for an opportunity at a shop that has a clean work environment, a positive culture and most or all of the equipment they need to get their job done efficiently.

Working to improve your shop in any of these fronts will help you attract talent.  But you’ll see benefits long before your shop attracts the attention of potential new hires.  These “shop upgrades” will help with employee retention, job efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Want to learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring more of your favorite repairs into your shop?  Call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Looking Outside the Auto Repair Industry for New Hires

July 23rd, 2021

The pandemic has shrunk the workforce, and that’s bad news for the auto repair industry.  Jobless claims have dropped significantly since last April, but there are still seven million fewer people with jobs than before the pandemic.

Many businesses are hoping that there will be an influx of job seekers when schools open and unemployment benefits shrink.  Those things will certainly bring some younger workers back into the job market.  But more Baby Boomers retired in 2020 than in any year in history, and they aren’t coming back.

For the auto repair industry, it’s especially unlikely that hiring will suddenly become painless in September.  Technicians were already hard to find before the pandemic, due in large part to a shortage of young workers interested in the job or the industry.

Dealerships, franchises and independent shops are even more desperate for the small stream of newly trained technicians entering the industry than they were before the pandemic. Whatever it took to attract new employees in 2019, it’s likely to take more now.

And that’s why it might be time to look outside of the industry for hires.

Restaurant, Retail and Hospitality Workers

Many employees in restaurant, retail and hospitality jobs weren’t considering different industries before the pandemic. But after those jobs evaporated overnight, many were forced into rethinking whether those high-stress, off-hours jobs were worth the low pay they offered.

Even though these employees aren’t likely to have experience in the automotive industry, they might be a great fit for a service writer or customer service role.  They’re accustomed to providing customer-facing service, staying on their feet and keeping things moving in environments where margins depend on it.

For restaurant, retail and hospitality workers looking to change careers, a job in an auto repair shop offers things their current occupation probably doesn’t.  Independent repair shops, for instance, can offer reliable hours and a low-turnover environment with a positive culture.  Employees coming from these industries tend to be younger than the average US worker, which means they have plenty of time to grow into their roles and continue supporting your shop for years (or decades) to come.

Hiring for Attitude, Motivation and Cultural Fit

Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to fill technician roles with employees from other industries.  To provide value to the shop, technicians need at least enough experience to handle the most basic jobs that come through the doors.  That means technicians with little or no experience are likely to slow your shop down at first, rather than speed things up.

That doesn’t mean hiring a novice can’t work out well for your shop.  If an employee is interested in the work you do and motivated to grow quickly, they can become one of your best performers over time.

Once you’re able to train someone to handle basic jobs like changing oil and replacing tires, you can free up your more experienced technicians for higher-value roles while making money off of your new hire each day they’re training.  And unlike an auto technician program at a community college, they can get paid while they learn the job, instead of going in debt to do it.  That’s a major draw for anyone considering a job in the industry.

It’s true that many franchise oil & lube shops already offer these “no experience necessary” types of roles.  But unlike those shops, technicians who choose to start at an independent repair shop can gain exposure to more advanced work whenever they’re ready to take it on.

Believe it or not, there are still kids in high school who are more excited about jumping right in to the working world than spending four years at college.  And there are also plenty of gig-economy workers who gave up on that career during the pandemic and want something more stable and reliable.  If you’re willing to take on the responsibility of mentoring someone who is new to the industry, it’s a great way to skip the line full of other shops willing to do whatever it takes for another experienced technician.

Another benefit – you won’t have to retrain them to do things the way you do them at your shop.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you bring more vehicles into your shop (and advertise your job openings!) call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

3 Things To Focus On When Developing Business Strategy

June 23rd, 2021

We’re halfway through the year, which is a great time to measure progress toward your shop’s annual goals.  This year might be an outlier, however; many business owners didn’t set annual goals for 2021 because it was too uncertain of a time to be putting together year-long business plans.

Fortunately, the United States is in a much better place than it was six months ago.  Coronavirus cases are down nearly 95% from their peak, masks are off, and people are anxious to get out of the house.

Those things are great for our health (and our sanity), but they aren’t filling up every auto repair shop’s bays. A shop’s car count still depends heavily on the local economic environment.

Different Realities Drive Different Strategies

Most urban areas are doing well.  People are moving around even more than they were in 2019 – and they’re using their vehicles to do it.  Offices, restaurants and retail establishments aren’t quite as busy as they were in 2019, but parking lots are far busier than they were in 2020.  Those things are enough to keep many auto repair shops busy – but a vehicle shortage and a year’s worth of delayed vacations are also bringing people to repair shops, flooding short-staffed garages with more vehicles than they can handle.

In areas with fewer resources, however, economic activity remains depressed.   Many towns in rural America were already suffering from outflows of money and people before 2020, resorting to measures like selling water systems to make ends meet.  People in these areas are keeping vehicles parked at home to keep costs down.  That’s hurting shop revenue, keeping them from hiring or making new investments.

So what’s the best strategy for your shop for the rest of 2021?  That will obviously depend many things – one of these is your area’s economic climate.  If your area faces a tough economic climate, you may need to shift strategies more aggressively to stay profitable.  Meanwhile, a bustling shop comes with its own set of challenges.  It’s difficult to keep employee morale high and meet customer expectations when a long line of work starts taking over the calendar.


The strategy will be different depending on how busy you are.  But the focus is the same.

Busy or Not, the Same Things Matter

Whether you’re trying to figure out how to get customers into your shop or how to get them to leave you alone until you’re up a few technicians, positioning yourself for success requires understanding these three groups.

Know Your Customers

Why do customers come to your shop? It’s easy to assume they come in because they need a vehicle repaired – but unless you’re the only shop in the area, that’s not the full story.

Different customers probably choose your shop for different reasons.  For some, your shop is the closest or easiest option.  Others may say it’s the most affordable.  Still others may trust your shop (or an employee in your shop) to give them an honest opinion of what needs to be done.

When you understand why customers come to your shop, you can make sure they’re getting whatever it is they value most out of the relationship.  It’s hard to provide great service (the key to continued long-term success) without understanding that most-valued trait.

Even if you’re flooded with customers, you need to know what customers value – because, if you can’t provide them with anything else, you want to make sure they always get that one thing.  If you really disappoint a customer, they might not care how busy you were. And if you disappoint enough of them, you’ll soon find yourself with far more spare time than you ever wanted.

Know Your Employees

Workplace cultures have a feedback loop. Ideally, it’s a positive one, where employees have learned to trust and respect one another over time.  During a bad week, employees can lean on those relationships to motivate them towards success.

But when things go south, it can seem like every interaction makes things worse.  Small disagreements can turn into petty and aggressive behavior, killing productivity and morale.  That’s when employees start assuming the worst possible reason for every uncertainty.

Negative feedback loops are especially dangerous when the shop is “unsteady” – when things are too quiet or too busy.  When things are quieter than they should be, employees want to know what changes you’re planning to get business back.  When you’re too busy, employees want to know when things are going to calm down so they can get back to their lives.

In either case, it helps to project a sense of calm and to provide some insight on how you plan to smooth out the workload going forward.  If employees don’t like what they’re hearing (or if they don’t hear anything), they may assume the worst and try to find employment elsewhere.  And whenever you can, contribute to a positive feedback loop by making the shop a great place to be.

Know Your Community

The word “community” casts an intentionally wide net. It includes other businesses, schools, churches, local governments and even competitors in your area.  It’s also the source of your customers and employees.  Each positive interaction you have with community members will have a small impact on your shop’s reputation – and over time, the support you earn from your community can be a vital element of surviving tough weeks, months and years. 

If you’re trying to get customers in the door, sponsoring or participating in events with opportunities for face-to-face interaction (like festivals or sports tournaments) can help!  Sponsoring free events at your own shop, such as training new drivers to ensure vehicle safety, can also build goodwill.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you attract the best customers to your shop, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

3 Opportunities for Auto Repair Shop Specialization in the Near Future

June 22nd, 2021

The biggest automotive story this week is the combined $65 billion GM and Ford have promised to invest in electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025.  Tightening emissions laws and changing consumer preferences are forcing manufacturers to make huge investments in EVs if they want to survive the next decade.

But that doesn’t mean EVs are important to most independent repair shops. Even with the recent rapid growth in sales, plug-in electric vehicles still represent only 2% of vehicles sold each year.

What is important to independent shops is the increasing complexity of vehicles.  It’s been a challenge for years.


Each year, a larger investment is required to fully serve new vehicle models.  And each year, the differences between vehicle brands increase.  New microprocessors are introduced.  Diagnostics become more expensive.  Training becomes more comprehensive – and more important.  And massive manufacturer investments in electrification put shop owners on notice that these trends are only going to accelerate.

All of this complexity makes the “general repair” business more difficult and less profitable, and it’s leading some shops to move away from it.  Some general repair shops may choose to focus exclusively on certain makes in the future, especially if many of their technicians are already familiar with them.  Other shops (especially those in rural areas) may continue as general automotive shops but stop servicing lower-volume makes and models.

Specialization isn’t just about makes and models, however. Shops specializing in engines, transmissions, air conditioning and other automotive systems have been operating profitably for decades.  Here are three categories of specialization that may become more attractive for some shops in the near future.

Electronics and Diagnostics

When an Auto Care Association executive testified to Congress about vehicle technology late last year, he pointed out that a 2001 Chevy Suburban had nine electronic control modules, and a 2021 Suburban had 103 modules.  That’s 11 times the complexity – and 11 times as many points of failure.

Newer vehicles’ engines and transmissions are more reliable than ever.  But when control modules fail, and dashboard warnings arise, drivers will need someone to diagnose the problem and fix it.  And with so many cameras and sensors supporting safety features in newer vehicles, fixing a problem requires more than simply replacing broken components.  They also need to be calibrated.

Fleet Service Vehicles

Providing specialized services for corporate fleets isn’t a new idea.  But the rise of ride-sharing services gave rise to a new type of “fleet” – one with many owners and a wide (but not too wide) variety of vehicles.  While the pandemic demolished the ride-sharing industry, it lifted the food-delivery industry to new heights – and in 2021, both services are doing well.

The long-term business models of the Transportation-as-a-Service and Delivery-as-a-Service industries are yet to be determined.  That means we don’t know whether drivers will be employees, whether they’ll be using their own vehicles, or even whether they’ll select their own auto repair shop.  But these two industries will be putting billions of miles on vehicles well beyond 2021 – and someone is going to be keeping all those vehicles on the road.

Hybrid Vehicle Service

Electric and hybrid vehicles aren’t big players in the US auto market.  But unlike plug-in vehicles, manufacturers have sold hundreds of thousands of hybrids yearly since 2007, representing 2-3% of annual light-duty vehicles sales.  In cities and states where hybrid vehicles are most prevalent, specializing in hybrid vehicles can allow your shop to offer high-margin services that others can’t.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you attract your ideal customers (whether you specialize or not!) call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Three Things That Auto Repair Shops Want But Don’t Ask For

May 31st, 2021

Before my time working at Repair Shop Websites, I conducted business research in the pharmaceutical industry.  I interviewed some very smart people along the way.  Some of the best bits of wisdom I received were the ones that seemed the most obvious.

One quote that stuck with me came from an executive who helped small companies that were being acquired by some of the biggest names in the industry.

“When you want something, just ask,” she said.  “The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no.”


The truth is that it can be uncomfortable to ask someone for something they might not want to give you.  People miss opportunities for first dates, salary increases and lower car and home purchase prices because they’re too scared of rejection to ask for them.

Whether it’s the shop owner, service advisor or another employee, this can happen a lot in auto repair shops too.  Here are three things repair shops want (or should want) but often don’t ask for.

#1 Online Reviews

It’s a well-established fact that people rely on online reviews to decide where to buy local services including auto repair.  And Repair Shop Websites’ own research has proven that customers are over three times more likely to leave a review if they’re asked to do so.  Despite this, many repair shops don’t ask for reviews from customers they know are happy with the service they received.

The reasons vary.  In some cases, the service manager frequently forgets to ask.  In others, shop staff don’t want to make the customer feel pressured into saying nice things about the shop.  But one of the biggest reasons shop staff don’t ask for reviews is that it feels awkward to ask a customer for a favor right after they paid for service.

It shouldn’t. For most customers, it’s a much smaller request than asking them to part with a few extra dollars for high-mileage oil or upgraded wiper blades.  And even if they don’t intend to leave you a review, they probably aren’t going to tell you that.

If you feel like a customer had a good experience (or if they tell you they’re happy with the shop), take the extra ten seconds to explain that great reviews help bring more people into the shop. Tell them it would help you out if they could post a review about what services were done to their vehicle and what the experience was like.  We’ve even put together this quick guide on how to ask!  And we provide a tool to our customers that makes it really easy to email their happy customers to ask for a review.

If just 10% of your customers give you positive reviews, there’s a good chance you’ll be the most-reviewed (and best-reviewed) shop in town within six months. That will have a major impact on your shop’s search results.

#2 New Employees

There are some places where it makes sense to be careful advertising your need for additional employees.  If a Help Wanted sign is the biggest one on your shop window (or on your website) customers might assume you’re too busy to handle their vehicle and take their business elsewhere.  Competitors could also try and use your staff shortage against you when talking with potential customers.

With that said, you shouldn’t miss any opportunities to let people know you’re hiring new technicians or service writers.  As you are probably well aware, there is a major shortage of auto repair technicians in particular – if someone can get the word out to an interested technician that your shop has an opening, it’s probably worth the risk you’re taking to advertise that information. So be sure to let friends, family, business associates and anybody else who might be able to help know that you are looking for somebody.

Don’t be afraid to ask your employees for referrals, either!  If your employees are having to work extra hours to keep the doors open, they’re not going to be upset that you’re trying to fix the problem.  In fact, offering a sizeable referral bonus to any employee who helps you find a technician is a great way to show them that you’re willing to put money towards solving the problem.  Over-worked employees will appreciate that fact – even if they don’t have anyone to refer at the time you ask.

#3 New Service Revenue

Nobody enjoys the dreaded upsell.

When you buy an electronic device at the store and the employee at the checkout has to offer you a 3 year “replacement plan”, you can tell they hate asking if you want it.  You can tell they know your answer, too; they already have their finger above the button to take them to the next screen.

If your shop offers a service that your employees loathe selling this much, don’t ever ask your employees to sell that service to your customers again.

But you probably don’t have a service like this.  If you run an independent shop, you offer services that you believe are a good value to your customers.  And if you’ve invested in training or equipment to offer a new service, it’s because you think it’s valuable, too.  Ideally, your service writers and technicians have been trained on that value, and they believe in the service as well.

So don’t upsell customers – educate them!  The best way to make those investments worthwhile is to make sure your customers know about your new services.  If you were excited enough about a new service to buy the equipment required to offer it, let that excitement come through when you tell your customers about it.

If they don’t take you up on the offer, that doesn’t reflect poorly on you for offering it!  You’re just doing your job, which is telling them what you think is best for their vehicle.  Even if they don’t take you up on the offer today, they could always come back and ask for it when the problem it addresses becomes more obvious or more significant.

If you really want to avoid the perception of an upsell, there are even more laid-back ways to educate customers.  You can tell them about the service after you’ve given them the receipt for today’s service, which makes it a nearly pressure-free interaction.  You can staple printed material about the service on their invoice, which lets customers read about it when they aren’t face-to-face with you.  But don’t be shy about letting customers know all about your new services. That’s the best way to earn a return on your investment – and to allow you to keep investing in new services, so your shop can keep up to date with fast-changing vehicle service requirements.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring more business to your shop, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com to learn more!