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Repair Shop Advice


Friday, January 14, 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.


Thursday, December 16, 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!


Monday, November 22, 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!


Monday, October 18, 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.


Friday, September 24, 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.

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