Repair Shop Advice


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

If your auto repair shop is not on Instagram yet, now is the time. Instagram is making it easier for its users to find local businesses. In addition, a Google exec was recently quoted about how often young people use Instagram to find local businesses.

Last year Instagram updated their map functionality so that local businesses could be discovered. Before that only posts that were tagged with a nearby location could be found. Now, your official Instagram account can be found on the map. That is of course, if you have an Instagram account.

example of Instagram map

Do Auto Repair Shops Need to Be on Instagram?

I know what you might be thinking – “I don’t need one more online account to have to manage!” Yes, you’ve got your Google Business Profile, Facebook, maybe Yelp and maybe others. But here’s one reason why Instagram is important – a Google executive last year said “In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

I realize that auto repair shops are not the same as restaurants. But if “young people” are using Instagram to find restaurants they’ll be using it to find auto repair shops soon enough if they aren’t already.

Also – if “young people” are using Instagram in this way, not-so-young people will probably be doing so soon. And, if this age group just starts getting used to searching for local businesses using Instagram they will likely continue to do so as they age.

AnA Tire & Automotive on Instagram

Instagram User Statistics

You can find all sorts of statistics about who uses Instagram and how often, but I will rely on the Pew Research Center because I know they are as trustworthy as they come. Their most recent United States social media survey is a little dated being two years old (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/10/07/7-facts-about-americans-and-instagram/) but here’s some data from that survey:

• 40% of Americans say the use Instagram
• 71% of those ages 18-29 use Instagram
• 48% of those ages 30-49 use Instagram
• 47% of those with incomes of $75k+ use Instagram
• Of those who use Instagram, 59% use it at least once a day with 38% saying they use it several times a day

If your target audience is included in the user statistics above, the case for utilizing Instagram is even more clear. If you are in a college town then this is impacting you now. If you are in any other market where your customer base includes 18-29 year olds this is impacting you now.

How Do I Capture Instagram Users Searching for Auto Repair?

Instagram Business Account instructions

If you are already using Instagram

Switch to a professional account if you haven’t already. Make sure to fully complete your profile.

If you do not have an Instagram account

You can go to this web page – https://business.instagram.com/getting-started – and create a business account. About halfway down the page you’ll see the text from the image above. Just to the right of that text is a walkthrough video that takes you through the steps. Complete your profile and post some of your best photos, if you have some to post.

The good news is that setting up an Instagram business account just takes a little bit of time and is free. Plus you’ll be giving yourself an opportunity to bring in more customers. You have nothing to lose.

If you really want to leverage Instagram to engage your potential customer base, you can start posting. But if you don’t, at least you’ve done the minimum to make sure you are findable for those who use Instagram to search for auto repair services in your area.

Would you like help building out your Instagram profile and engaging your audience on Instagram? We can help you with our Social + package. Give us a call today at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!


Thursday, December 29, 2022

If you have recently had a tech or two leave your shop what reason did they give you? Was it pay? Even if the pay was a nice bump over what you were paying them, do you think that is the real reason they left?

As you’ve probably observed many times, when humans make a big decision there are often two stories – the truth, and then the story they tell you to make you feel better about it or to avoid a discussion about the truth. And most often, we are willing to believe the story because it makes us feel better and helps us avoid having to make hard changes.

In this case, if we believe the tech left because of the 20% pay increase it helps us avoid having to deal with the work environment or cultural issues we don’t want to face. We don’t have to address the sniping amongst employees or the way we don’t thank them for their work or that we don’t try to connect with them as a human or offer any flexibility in their work schedule.

We couldn’t pay them 20% more so they left. They just wanted more money. Right? Or is that the story we are telling ourselves to avoid having to face the truth?

bag full of money

Was It Really the Money?

The highly respected workplace research firm Gallup recently conducted an analysis that found that engaged employees need a 31% pay increase to even consider taking a job somewhere else. 31%!

The same analysis showed that employees who are not engaged, and even actively disengaged, want a 22% pay increase to change jobs.

Now the story is starting to become clearer. Our tech left for 20% more and if you compare that to the Gallup research that says actively disengaged employees want 22% more, it’s time to take a hard look at what life at the shop looks like and feels like for our employees.

Auto Repair Technicians Want the Same Things as All Employees

Sure, if you ask anybody if they’d like more money, nearly 100% of people will say yes. But in most cases if an employee is directly asking you for more money it’s to compensate for “poor management and a poor employee experience” as it says in the Gallup article.

What they are really saying is that you are going to have to pay them more money if you expect them to work long hours or put up with the people they work with or put up with the conditions of the shop. Or put in a not so gentle way, “these things suck about working here, if you want me to stay you are going to have to pay me more to put up with them.”

Unfortunately, once somebody has gotten to that point it’s a no-win situation. The exception is if you can find a way to fix the real problem. Gallup says the best predictors of employee retention are:

  • Overall job satisfaction
  • Organizational commitment
  • Work environment
  • Level of stress
  • Workgroup cohesion

If you don’t fix those things, your employee is likely to keep asking for more money until they realize that it doesn’t truly compensate for the stress and damage the job causes and then they will leave.

It’s also important to know that increasing base pay for an employee has been shown to have an insignificant effect on performance. If you want to increase performance focus on fixing the five elements in the list above.

Now Is a Good Time to Change

The end of the year is a time for many people to look back and then look forward. If your look back includes the loss of a number of good employees I encourage you to take a hard look at the work environment and culture of your shop.

  • Do you show employees your appreciation in small and big ways?
  • Do they know the shop is committed to their wellbeing and that you care about them and their families?
  • Do you or does their manager work to personally connect with each employee?
  • Does everybody treat each other well in the shop?
  • Is there a team atmosphere that helps lift somebody up when they need it?

Those are just some of the things that you should be considering. For more information check out:

Webinar – Recruiting and Keeping Talented Technicians (This is a recording of a live webinar from four years ago but it’s still just as relevant today)

Podcast – What Do Technicians Think Is The Most Important Aspect Of A Job With Jay Goninen from WrenchWay

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

Blog – Setting New Employees Up for Success

Change is never easy. But it’s only going to get harder to recruit technicians. Gain an advantage by making sure you’ve got a work environment and culture that helps you keep the good people you have. They can often be your best source for new employees.


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

We have spoken to a lot of auto repair shop owners and managers who have told us that they don’t like to bother their customers by asking for reviews. Is that feeling justified? Do consumers really dislike being asked for reviews?

The great news is that the fine folks at Moz have helped us get a lot more insight into what consumers think about being asked for reviews as part of their Impact of Local Business Reviews on Consumer Behavior Report. We covered in detail their findings about how consumers evaluate reviews and particularly how that affects repair shop owners in the blog last month.

This month we are going to highlight the results of some of the questions they asked 1,300 consumers in September about being asked to leave reviews.

Before we look at some of those questions, here’s an important word of warning. You should not be rewarding people for giving you reviews. This is unethical at best and could qualify as illegal.

They did ask the question in the survey and 40% of the consumers said they had businesses offer money, discounts, or gifts in exchange for writing a review. Please don’t do this or try to manipulate your reviews in any way. If consumers find out that you have even one “fake” review it will completely destroy your credibility.

Now, onto the questions…

Has a local business asked you directly for a review in the past 5 years?

61% of the consumers said that they had received at least one direct request for a review during the past five years. That means that 39% of consumers were not asked one single time by a local business for a review over the previous five years. That all adds up to a lot of missed opportunities.

If you have been asking your customers consistently for reviews than you likely have a leg up on your competitors. If you haven’t been asking for reviews you can start today and still likely be ahead of most of your competitors.

When asked by a business to leave a review, how often do you do so?

When asked by a business to leave a review how often to you do so?

This chart shows why it’s worth your time and effort to ask for reviews. More than 50% of consumers will always or usually leave a review when asked to do so. An additional 34% will sometimes leave a review when asked to do so. The quick summary – when you ask your customers for a review, most of them will leave one for your shop.

How do you prefer to be asked for local business reviews?

How do you prefer to be asked for local business reviews?

Notably, this is a select all that apply. As you can see email is the preferred way, with in-person right behind it. Text comes in third at 29%.

This is one of those things where the better you know your customer, the better you can modify your approach to fit their preference. If you’ve been communicating with a customer the whole time via text then there is a high likelihood that they are going to be good with a text request for a review. The good news is that our Integrated Reviews portal allows you to request a review via email and/or text.

Why do you write local business reviews?

Why do consumers write local business reviews?

This is a really important question to highlight. As mentioned in the intro paragraph of this blog, many repair shop owners tell us they don’t like to ask for reviews because they don’t like to bother customers. However, as seen in the answer to this question, 73% of consumers said they write local business reviews “To let others know my experience.” It is important to them to guide others to good businesses and away from bad businesses.

If you have delivered great service to a customer and you ask them for a review, you are helping them fulfill their mission to let others know of a good quality business that they can trust. Consumers are not just writing a good review for you, they are writing a good review to help all the other vehicle owners in their community identify a great shop to take their vehicle to.

So if you’ve hesitated in the past or been resistant to ask your happy customers for reviews, I hope that seeing the results of that survey question will encourage you to start asking more consistently.

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!


Tuesday, November 29, 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!


Friday, November 18, 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.

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