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Repair Shop Advice


Monday, November 23, 2020

It’s important for auto repair shop owners, managers and service writers to build a connection with potential customers.  Your shop will have more sales, higher margins and happier customers if those customers trust your employees to do what they need to in order to keep their cars in good shape.  Your customers will have a safe car that will probably last for years beyond their last car payment.  Everyone wins.

The problem is, it’s harder than ever to build that trust.  Most salespeople would agree that sales is easier face-to-face, in part because the customer can put a face to a name.  Putting a mask to a name just isn’t quite the same.

And if you ask people like criminal interrogators who have mastered the art of trust-building, they’ll spend hours telling you about all their non-verbal techniques like gestures, posture, and facial expressions.  You get absolutely none of that over the phone, and that’s a problem.  There are plenty of customers right now who aren’t excited about hanging around the shop for a 10-minute walkthrough on how their brake line failed.

All of this just means that you’ve got to work harder to use the tools you do have. Here are three things you can do to build trust with a potential customer, whether they’re talking to you from six feet away or six miles away.

Provide Certainty

Even during normal years, reliability is one of the most important elements of earning trust.  But people are desperate for certainty right now.  If your auto repair shop seems like a place that they can count on to help them reliably check one thing off their list, it will do wonders to turn a phone call into a customer.

This isn’t just about safety (although if you say you’re taking safety precautions, you need to be doing those things when they show up).  It’s about when their vehicle will be repaired, how long it will take to get a part, or when you’ll follow up with them.  And although you probably don’t want to provide a quote on services of any complexity without seeing the car, providing hourly costs or price ranges also helps to provide certainty.  Ultimately, anything that makes the shop seem disorganized or confused may push customers away.

Provide References

When customers are trying to find an auto repair shop they can trust, they want to hear what others think about local shops.  But they aren’t going to ask you for references directly.  If they have lots of time, they might ask their friends.  If they don’t have much time, they’ll probably take a look at online reviews.  But if it’s an expensive repair, they probably don’t want to commit to having it done by someone they’ve never met, especially if money is tight.

That’s why personal references and online reviews will always be one of the most important ways to build trust.  And just because your current customers might not be spending as much time in your shop doesn’t mean you should stop asking them for those references and reviews.  It just means you might have to add some socially-distanced ways of doing that to your process, such as emailed requests, if you haven’t already.

Many of our customers found that the first batch of stimulus checks led to a wave of larger repairs that vehicle owners wouldn’t likely have paid for before that check arrived.  If a new batch of stimulus checks are mailed out, you want your shop to be in a position to earn that extra business with a stellar reputation.

Provide Results

The most important part of building trust is following through.  Of course, part of that is having great technicians to provide the repair in the first place.  But it’s also important to take the time to reach out to every customer and make sure they’re happy with the service they received.

If they aren’t, do what you can to make it right.  Sometimes, your most loyal customers are the ones who were dissatisfied with their initial experience but blown away with the response they got after the fact.  It might take some time or money to turn those experiences around, but turning a one-star review into a five-star review will pay for itself many times over in the long run.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your repair shop bring in more business, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Monday, October 26, 2020

Today’s customers are used to shopping around for everything.  To prevent a race to the bottom on prices, work hard to exceed your competitors in a way that really matters to your customers. Click here to learn how.

 


Sunday, October 25, 2020

This is one of the toughest times in recent memory to be an employee.

The biggest reason isn’t mass layoffs or low wages or safety risks.  It’s not because of anything related to employment at all.  It’s simply because this is one of the toughest times in recent memory just to get through a day.   In some industries, jobs have almost completely dried up, and nearly everyone knows someone who is suffering because of it.  Many peoples’ lives are full of uncertainty and schedules change weekly, especially for those with kids in school.  For people at the highest risk of serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19, just going about daily life is a minefield of masks, hand washing and prayers.

Of course, shop owners are stressed too.  Some shops are trying to make ends meet because their customers can’t afford repairs.  We’ve talked to many more shops who have the opposite problem – they are bursting at the seams with work but can’t find competent technicians with reasonable salary expectations to add to their teams.  While one of those two situations has a better long-term outlook, neither of them are very much fun if you’re living through it daily.

Despite the stressors weighing down shop owners, it’s important to remember that shop employees are just as stressed as shop owners are.  And it’s more important than ever to take a few minutes out of each day to appreciate and care for the employees that are helping you ride through whatever stormy weather 2020 has brought to your repair shop.

Appreciation Builds Loyalty


If your shop is busier than ever, your technicians are probably breaking records. Take a couple of minutes out of each day to recognize that fact.  It will build employee loyalty to you and your shop and let them know that their hard work is not going unnoticed.

The time you spend talking about these things will pay for itself many times over.  Shop Owner Magazine recently pointed out two interesting statistics.  According to an employee survey, 81% of employees are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.  And 53% said they’d stay at a job longer if they received positive feedback on their performance.

If your shop is facing tough times, figure out what team members can do to help each other.  Remember that employees aren’t going to be able to help you go the extra mile for your customers if something in their lives is preventing them from meeting their basic needs.  A recent study asked employees if they planned to stay at their job for the next three years.  Among employees who felt like their employers cared for them, 60% planned to stay for three years.  Among those who didn’t think their employers cared for them, only 7% planned to stay.

When a shop is in a tough spot, one of the most important assets is a team of hard-working employees who want to stay there and support each other through the hardship.  If you want to keep that team, make sure you’re taking a few minutes out of each day to focus on their needs and their accomplishments!

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your shop earn new customers, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Here’s the short answer – by doing everything you should already be doing to optimize your website for regular search.

Unfortunately, there are a number of “marketing firms” out there that would have you believe that you should pay them a lot of money to help you optimize for voice search. Please don’t give them any of your money.

If your website adheres to modern search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, you should have to do very little, if anything, to optimize for voice. Let’s get into the main difference between voice and text search and what you should be doing to search well for voice.

The difference between voice search and text search

When it comes to how people use voice search versus how they use text search the most significant difference is what they put in the search box. Of course, when using voice search they are not literally putting anything in the search box, but the voice assistant inserts whatever they say into the “box.”

Moz voice search keyword chart

Moz.com Voice Search Query Chart

With text search, searches are much more likely to be shorter and often include only one to three words:

  • Auto repair
  • New tires
  • Brake repair Raleigh

With voice search, searches are longer and more conversational:

  • “Where can I get an oil change near me?”
  • “Alexa, where can I get new tires for my 2017 Honda Civic?”
  • “I need an auto repair shop to get my brakes fixed in Raleigh.”

This is what SEO experts will call the long tail search. Searches using voice are most often not as condensed as those using text. This is in part because people who often use voice search like the ease-of-use and are more likely to use it similar to how they may talk to a friend.

How to optimize for voice search

To expand on my short answer above, here’s what you should be doing to give your auto repair shop the best chance to perform well in voice search.

Write for Humans


This may seem somewhat obvious, but SEO for websites back in the day would include a lot of emphasis on keywords and writing for the search engines. That has changed over the past three to five years as search engines (especially Google) have continued to build in factors that reward writing for humans. The longer, conversational searches that we see more often in voice search lend themselves to conversational language that provides an answer. You should have easy-to-understand explanations for your services. You should also have content that provides answers to questions potential customers might ask.

Thorough Content

The longer queries that come with voice search require more depth in your content. Let’s use the example “I need an auto repair shop to get my brakes fixed in Raleigh.” There are three elements that need to be covered with this one – auto repair, brakes and Raleigh. In order to choose your website as the search result, Google is going to want to make sure you represent all three elements well. As we’ve been saying for many years, if you have a one-page website, or maybe just a few pages, you are not going to compete well in these searches. You need to be sure you have depth of content for your category (auto repair), your services and your location.

Mobile Friendly

Mobile friendly responsive design has been important for text search for years and it’s important for voice search as well. If you don’t have a mobile friendly website, you need to get that fixed right away.

Google My Business

In almost all cases a voice search that includes the words “near me” (like “auto repair near me”) will return a result directly from Google My Business (GMB) listings. This is similar to text search where the Local Pack full of Google My Business listings appears right at the top of the page and many people use that to make their choices. If you have not completely optimized your Google My Business listing, you should do that right away, for the same reasons you should have already done it for text search. Your website and your GMB profile are your most important tools for being found online by potential customers. They should be working together to attract new business for you.

As you can see, the things that you need for voice search optimization – writing for humans, thorough content and mobile friendly – are the same things you need for text search optimization. Having those key elements and an optimized Google My Business profile will give you the best chances of performing well in voice search.

We can help make sure your website and your Google My Business profile are set up for voice search success. Call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com and let’s talk through your options.


Friday, September 25, 2020

If you’re a general automotive shop, the odds are pretty good that you’re happy to see customers who need new brake pads and rotors.  When we ran an informal survey of our customers asking them which five services they most prefer to do, brakes were in the list for more than 90% of respondents.  Around half of surveyed shops also listed A/C services and diagnostics in their top five as well.

These might be great profit engines for many shops.  Should they be prioritized in your marketing?  That depends on your situation.

If you live in a rural area, and competition for auto repair customers isn’t particularly strong, these are great services to lead your marketing efforts.  Vehicles aren’t going to make it far with bad brakes, and depending on your climate and the time of year, they aren’t going to go far without A/C either.

But what if your town or city is full of other shops fighting for that business?  It might not make sense to join them.  At some point, fighting to be the shop people think of for a specific type of job only to have to participate in a price war might not end up being all that profitable after all.


That doesn’t mean you should avoid providing brake services – you’ll probably get plenty of brake business even if that’s not what you’re pushing in your advertising.  It especially makes sense to market these services to existing customers, who already trust your shop and are less likely to price shop or start their repair shop search from scratch.  It just means you might want to try a different angle when it comes to prioritizing services on your website or in any print marketing services you’re using. Here are two other ways to go:

Emphasize Ride Quality and Safety – Some shops we surveyed chose to promote suspension and alignment services, and many of these offered tire services as well.  Alignment machines aren’t cheap, so not every shop has them – and it makes sense to capitalize on them if you do!  And while tires are far from a profit center for most repair shops, they can bring in new customers, offering the potential to build a relationship and provide more profitable services down the road.

Niche Services – If you or another technician in your shop has a particularly strong knowledge of specific vehicle models, such as German or Japanese cars, promoting that expertise can bring in many new customers if your area is big enough to have a large volume of those vehicles.  Promoting yourself as an expert may require you to purchase enhanced (OEM) diagnostic tools and build relationships with parts providers, but the customers you earn are more likely to be loyal because they know you are simply a better resource for their vehicles than other shops.

You can also specialize in less common problems such as electrical, engine or transmission services if you have someone with the expertise to perform those services at a higher level.  This can even lead to referrals from competitors who lack those skills.  Just be careful not to get more specific than your market can support.  Finally, don’t feel like you have to discontinue your general automotive services to promote expertise in a specific vehicle model or automotive system!

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

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