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Repair Shop Advice


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

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


Is auto repair one of those industries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, July 28, 2022

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

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

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

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

Educate

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

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

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

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

Engage

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

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

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

Entertain

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

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

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

Earn the opportunity to promote

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

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

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


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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

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

Searching for Auto Repair

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

Google search local pack and map

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

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

Reviews Help Consumers Decide What Repair Shop to Call

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

Top 20 GMB Conversion Factors

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

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

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

What to Do

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

#2 – Positive Sentiment in Review Text

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

What to Do

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

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

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

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

What to Do

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

#5 – Recency of Reviews

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

What to Do

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

Google Reviews Are Well Worth Asking For

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

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


Monday, May 16, 2022

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

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

Put in order, they were ranked:

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

Pay is the #1 factor for auto repair techs

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

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

Work Environment is also very important to technicians

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

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

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

Training and development opportunities should not be overlooked

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

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

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

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


Friday, April 22, 2022

Traditional search engine optimization (SEO) focused on website structure, links and content as the three most important factors for showing up higher in the rankings. At a time when people make quicker decisions than ever and it’s pretty easy to get a one or two page website set up, does content really still matter?

Yes, it matters. A lot. In this blog we’ll cover why it still matters, the elements of content that matter most and how you can leverage those parts to get your auto repair shop’s website to search well.

SEO Experts Weigh In

There are only a handful of people at Google that know exactly what goes into their algorithm to determine the organic search rankings of their search engine. However, there is an annual survey of SEO experts that gets us close. These are people who are doing this every single day for all types of businesses across the world and the survey focuses on what they see as the most important search ranking factors. Here are their top 20 factors from the survey that was released toward the end of 2021:

Top 20 Local SEO Organic Factors in 2021

While this isn’t directly from Google, it’s a pretty darn good substitute based on the optimizing and monitoring that these folks are doing.

So, what does it tell us about content? Content elements make up three of the top five, and five of the top 13 factors highlighted:

  • #2 – volume of quality content on entire website
  • #4 – topical (product/service) keyword relevance across entire website
  • #5 – geographic (city/neighborhood) keyword relevance of domain content
  • #7 – website’s degree of focus on a specific niche
  • #13 – volume of quality content on service pages

Three big content takeaways for auto repair shops from this list:

  1. You can’t just have a one (or even five) page website and expect it to compete in the search results. Google likes websites to prove their credibility and expertise. One way they can do that is to have a large amount of quality content throughout the website.
  2. Topical keywords are important. You need to have a good mix of all the keywords that are related to auto repair, or your specific focus area, throughout your website. This is another way to prove your expertise.
  3. Location keywords are also very important. This makes lots of sense. In almost all cases, people are searching for an auto repair shop in their area. Google wants to be sure it’s returning results that are relevant to the searcher and if I’m searching for auto repair in Raleigh, North Carolina it’s highly likely that I don’t want to see results for Nashville, Tennessee.

Leveraging the 5 Key Content Factors to Help Your Website Search Well

Volume of Quality Content on Entire Website

This is listed as the second most important factor, so clearly it’s extremely important. You want to build out your website to include as much quality content as possible. Create service pages for each of the services that you offer. Get as specific as you can and include detail. Tell the story of your business. Share images and descriptions of the work you’ve done.

Often repair shop owners will say they don’t know what to include on their website, yet they have a vast knowledge of all of the work that happens in their shop. To get started think about all of the questions that people ask about the services you provide and start capturing the answers to those questions. Feel free to design your pages with questions and answers like a Q&A page.

Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance Across Entire Website

This one starts to get more specific to the actual searches that are happening. How relevant is your website to the specific keyword the user searched for and other related keywords?

The hardest thing for most auto repair shop owners to consider here is that you have to think from the standpoint of the potential customer. What do they call the services that you provide? Or what would they search for?

The big ones are the basics like auto repair, car repair, car mechanic (as much as you may hate that term), oil change, etc. However, if you are specialized you’ll want to consider keywords related to your specialization. Once you have your keywords you want to make sure they are sprinkled throughout your website…BUT, you want to make sure you are not overusing them at the risk of a keyword stuffing penalty.

Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content

This factor is very similar to the one above, just focused on location instead of services. Make sure the cities, towns and areas that you serve are included all over your website. Include them in your service pages, testimonials/reviews and about sections.

You should also include landmarks and other local information, if possible. Highlight the local organizations you support and/or are active in.

Similar to topical keywords, when doing this you want to make the inclusion natural – make sure it doesn’t look like you are keyword stuffing.

Website’s Degree of Focus on a Specific Niche

This should not be an issue for most auto repair shops. If you are building out quality content across your entire website it should all fall in the same category.

There are two instances where you may look at it differently:

  1. If you are offering services that fall outside of the auto repair category. For ease of comparison, let’s say you run an auto repair shop, a self storage business and a powerwashing business. You would want to be sure you had three separate websites for those businesses and didn’t try to tie them into your repair shop website.
  2. If you are specialized. You want to make your website as niche-y as possible. So if you only do Honda repair then you want to highly emphasize Honda repair. This will decrease the likelihood that you search well for the more generic “auto repair” keywords but increase the likelihood that you search well for more specific keywords related to Honda service and repair.

Volume of Quality Content on Service Pages

This goes hand in hand with the first one. It also provides an important clarification opportunity – you should not just create service pages for the sake of having them. If you aren’t building them out with quality content then you are better to not have them at all. A page with 20 words on it will not achieve the desired purpose.

You want to highlight your expertise on the topic. If you are working on a page about brake repair, reference all of the parts of the brake system. What job does each part perform? How do they work together? What types of problems typically occur? What types of services do you offer?

Content Is Still the King

To compete for the 93% of consumers who use the internet to find local businesses, your website has got to have purposeful, informative content. By following the advice above you can build out the content that’s going to help your website perform better in search.

We can help you by building a website that’s optimized to help you get found by consumers searching for your services in your area. If you’d like to learn more about our services, please call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!

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