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Repair Shop Advice


Friday, September 18, 2020

The sweet spot in the market for auto repair shops is vehicles that are 6-12 years old.  The owners of these vehicles have recently gotten rid of their car payment, are no longer under warranty and will have to start investing in their vehicle’s maintenance if they want to avoid having to buy a new one.  Even major repairs can be justified for many of these vehicles, as they are likely to have years of life remaining if they are properly maintained.

That ideal market is about to get a little larger.  The used vehicle market is on fire right now, leading these vehicles to leave car sales lots and get back on the road more quickly than ever.  Average used vehicle prices have increased nearly $2,000 since the beginning of the pandemic, and the average number of days a car sits on a lot is lower than it has been in years.


 

Before the pandemic, some households had only one car and relied on public transportation or ride sharing when car sharing wasn’t possible.  The pandemic has made each of those alternative transportation options far less appealing, so households are buying vehicles to meet these needs instead.  And since these newly purchased vehicles won’t be the primary family vehicle, many buyers are looking towards a more affordable pre-owned vehicle instead of a new one.

This means that the vehicle is much more likely to leave the lot without any dealer coverage at all.  Independent shops are the perfect maintenance choice for these vehicles due to their affordability and more convenient locations.  If your shop isn’t trying to capture the attention (and business) of people who are considering purchasing or have recently purchased a used vehicle, it’s an excellent opportunity to build trust with these owners.

Providing a discounted or free inspection for recently-purchased vehicles will make it easier for the buyer to visit your shop for maintenance than other shops. If you really want to get crazy you could even offer a free inspection for used vehicle before someone purchases it.  These inspections can effectively build trust, and a pipeline of future business by providing both the customer and your shop with a list of maintenance and repairs needed to keep the vehicle safe and reliable.  And it’s an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you’ll help them make informed decisions instead of pushing for a sale.

If your current customers’ family members are considering a used vehicle, it’s an especially good opportunity for new business.  Since someone in the family already trusts your shop, it’s more likely that the newly purchased vehicle will find its way back to your shop for major repairs when they come due.  Advertising a free inspection of recently-purchased used vehicles in your shop or on your invoices will make it more likely that current customers will see it.  Referrals are one of the most effective ways to earn business – and family referrals are among the most trusted ones!

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


Thursday, August 20, 2020

The economic impact of COVID-19 varies tremendously from region to region.  Some shops have faced such steep revenue declines that they’ve already been forced to close their doors.  But many of our customers are telling us a very different story: they can’t keep up with all the work.

Several factors are leading to the torrent of requests.  Before the pandemic, many people delayed major repairs because they didn’t want to be without their vehicle for a week.  That’s less of a problem in the “safer-at-home” era.  Others couldn’t afford big repairs, despite the clear need.  The stimulus check provided them with enough money to get problems fixed, delaying a car payment.  Some states postponed inspections penalties, but have recently put them back in place. That’s led to several months of inspections flooding shops all at once.  Whatever the reason, many shops are struggling to keep up.

When you’re working long days just to get the cars out the door, the last thing you want to do is stop and think about strategy while the requests pile up.  But focusing on these three things will pay off even in the short run.

Focus on Your Priority Work

Not all jobs benefit your shop equally – some are more profitable than others.  The most profitable work is different from shop to shop, depending on your technicians’ expertise, your equipment and your shop configuration.

Make sure your marketing is more narrowly focused when you’re overbooked.  For instance, if you make any Facebook posts, make sure they aren’t focused on lower-profit services.  Make sure your website’s home page is promoting your most profitable services towards the top of the site.  And if you subscribe to any services that send out reminder postcards or have coupons on your website, it’s a good time to put those on hold.

Pulling back on lower-profit services serves two goals.  First, it may reduce the amount of work that you have coming into your shop – and when you’re booking people several days or weeks out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Second, it ensures that the business that is coming your way is profitable.  After all, if you’re having to work overtime to handle all the work you’re getting, you may as well get paid for it.  And when your calendar does slow down, you’ll be happy to resume those postcard mailings and coupons and get that business in the door.

Think Efficiency

Write down the steps your employees take for each customer, from the time the customer drives into your lot until you hand them their keys back.  For each step, ask if there’s anything you can do to speed it up.  A little creativity can create a lot of time – just take a look at the fast-food industry

In central North Carolina, Chick-Fil-A has always been busy, but their business is up dramatically during COVID-19.  To address this, they’ve completely reconfigured their parking lots, making one way entrances and exits.  This has allowed them to create two lanes for drive-through, even though there’s only one menu and speaker.  That’s not a problem, because you don’t order at the speaker.

Employees are stationed outside with tablets and card readers to show customers the menu and take orders.  They ask for your order when there are ten cars ahead of you, rather than five.  This gives them more time to prepare your order, which means nobody waits at the window for their order to be prepared.  They even have runners stationed at the order delivery window, allowing them to provide food for up to three cars at once.  All of this allows them to serve twice as many people per minute as other fast-food restaurants with the same size building.

Don’t Ruin Relationships.

Customers know when you really value their business – it’s one of the things that keeps people coming to independent shops instead of franchises or dealerships.  But there are times when you really would prefer not to have another person calling you and asking for a time slot that you don’t have tomorrow.

You can’t let your phone service suffer, even when it’s costing you time and money.  Even when you’re busy, it’s important to answer the phone, and make the person on the other end think that they’re the only thing you’re focused on while you’re talking to them.  Apologize, and explain that you’re so busy that you’re booked out for several days – and tell them it’s uncommon for you to be so busy.

If you seem as rushed as you actually feel, they’ll notice.  Later on, when you need that business, they’ll be calling someone else for their maintenance and repairs.

And if you don’t have too much business, call Repair Shop Websites to learn how we can get more you more business at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

US unemployment exceeds 10%. Community involvement is always good for business, and if your business isn’t struggling right now it’s more important than ever to give back. Click here for some ways to help those in need.
 


Friday, August 7, 2020

Do you ever ask yourself how you can make the most out of your auto repair shop’s Facebook page? Here are 11 different ways you can boost your shop’s Facebook presence (in a fun way)!

11 Ways to Boost Your Auto Repair Shop's Facebook Engagement

1. Birthday shout-outs to employees


Recognize your birthday gal or guy on your Facebook page with a photo accompanied with a simple birthday wish. If you really love birthdays, get a cake and have them pose with it!

2. Follow and then share posts from other local businesses


Encouraging local support within your community boosts the movement of #supportlocal or #buylocalselllocal. Other businesses in your town will be appreciative and reciprocate in your favor next time.

Support Local Business on Facebook

3. Go live on your Facebook page


Yikes! Going live sounds very real, doesn’t it? It’s okay, it doesn’t need to be fancy. Either you or another shop employee (with an outgoing personality) can jump on your shop’s Facebook live. This can be a once a month or once a week (whenever you want, really) type of thing.

Use this platform to share a tip or wish your followers a happy Monday or a happy weekend. Interview an employee and talk about their family, favorite car, favorite meal, etc… Use it to showcase the team and provide a look behind the scenes at the shop.

While being a positive face your followers see on their newsfeed, it also brings light to your shop’s culture.

4. Choose a “Customer of the Week”


This can be as simple as asking a willing customer to be publicly thanked on your Facebook page. If you were excited about the Facebook live, use a video to introduce the customer of the week. Otherwise, take a photo with them and write a short and sweet note of gratitude and share.

By sharing this, other customers will see themselves in the customer you’re promoting. It creates a relatable, curious and engaging Facebook post.

5. Create games – “Guess How Much?”


Encouraging your Facebook followers to play along can be a great way for them to engage and have some fun with your shop. An idea for you to try out could be the “Guess How Much” game.

Here’s how you play: fill a jar with candies, paper clips or virtually anything you can fit into a jar. Share the photo on Facebook asking for people to guess how many of X is in the jar. The kicker here is that the winner should receive some type of prize (they need an incentive to play, of course). Whether the prize may be a gift card, a coupon for an oil change or even the jar of candies itself, it will encourage people to participate!

6. Run a contest during the holidays


Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition, especially around the holidays when there is excitement already in the air?

A few ideas right off the bat could be during Halloween, Christmas and Easter. Encourage your employees and customers to share their best Halloween costumes on your Facebook page. This will get some great laughs and many eyes on your Facebook page. When Christmas rolls around, use this as an opportunity to host a virtual cookie decorating contest or even better, decorate your car with Christmas lights contest. Lastly (we’re sure there’s more holiday contests you may think of), Easter is an egg-specially great time to have an egg decorating contest.

Holidays are a wonderful time to boost the spirits of your customers, while boosting your engagement on Facebook. Always remember to comment and interact with those who are participating!

7. More contest-related ideas? Yes, absolutely.


Try something like this, “Comment on the post, tag a friend or share this post to be entered to win…”. The post you share could involve asking your followers to share what their first car was as a comment and tag a friend to do the same. By the end, you will hopefully have many people engaging with your shop. This will promote your shop’s post on many different newsfeeds. The intent of this type of contest is to gain more followers and boost your shop’s social media reputation.

8. Create a ‘VIP’ Facebook group


If you have customers who ask a lot of great questions about their vehicles or you just want to bring a whole bunch of car enthusiasts together, this could be perfect for you! Create a Facebook group, allowing your followers to join and participate in conversation. This group encourages followers to post questions with the intent of your shop answering them! The shop’s responsibility will be to engage with the questions and provide valuable advice to your followers.

9. Create a poll or survey


Beyond a typical Facebook post, you can create a survey or a poll. These polls can range from silly, to “would you rather?” or more service-related survey questions. This is a chance to have some fun and it’s very easy for your followers to participate with little to no effort (just a click of a button).

10. Boost your shop’s engagement level with pie


Do you like pie? Good, this may be a delicious option for you. Promote a post like: “if we can get X amount of new Facebook followers, [shop owner/shop manager] will get a pie thrown in their face” (or shave their head…depends how brave you are).

You may have seen this with other brands that you follow because it can be a great way to promote your Facebook page. It creates an exciting and risky feeling and people thrive off that. Word of advice: remember to either record a video or take photos of whatever you choose to do because people will be very upset if they miss out.

11. Giveaways


Some repair shops don’t like to do giveaways, but they are on the list because consumers love them, and they work.

Giveaways can be pretty much anything underneath the sun. They can also happen for any reason. Whether you’re celebrating the shop’s anniversary or it’s a Wednesday in August, giveaway promotions can be held at any time. If you need a few ideas to get started, try these: a free oil change, gift card for a local restaurant in town, gift card for gas, or a gift card to a local grocery store. People love free and they are motivated with giveaways.

Are you feeling inspired to give one or two of these a shot? Incorporating these types of posts every so often to your shop’s Facebook page will help you get the most out of your social media presence.

We do more than websites! We also manage Facebook profiles for our customers. If you’d like to learn more about how we help our customers with Facebook, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

What type of auto repair work brings the highest margin? 

The reality is that it depends on the shop.  For your shop, it will be the types of repairs you are best set up to handle well.  It’s the repair that your technicians are experienced and efficient at completing.  Often, those are the repairs that you tend to get in more than other shops in town.


Of course, most shops don’t advertise that they only do one or two types of auto repairs.  As nice as that might sound when they’re busy, most shop managers know a time will come when they’ll be glad they haven’t told everyone in town that they don’t do oil changes.

But when there’s not enough time in the day to get done everything you’re being asked to do, you want to capture all of the high-margin business you can and let the lower-margin stuff float away to competitors, unless it’s a loyal customer in need of help.

How do you do that?  Here are three things you can do to help bring in more high-margin business.

Be active – and specific – on Facebook

If your shop really likes brake jobs (as an example), let the world know it.  Post pictures of your technicians working on brakes in the shop – and talk about what’s going on in the picture.  If you offer coupons, make them specific to brakes.

If you’re efficient at completing brake jobs and getting the vehicles back on the road, promote how quickly you can get it done.  This attaches your shop’s name to brakes in the minds of customers. More importantly, when the Google spiders crawl the web, they’ll see your shop’s name connected to brake repair more often, and will then be more likely to show your website higher up in brake repair-related search results, helping bring those specific customers into your shop.

Seek reviews that mention your high-margin jobs

Excellent reviews are one of the most important parts of a great online presence.  Most people check reviews before they go to an auto repair shop, and while they don’t believe everything they read (everyone knows that some customers are crazy) people are going to believe a pattern of customer opinions, whether those opinions are positive or negative.

Google does the same thing. For instance, if your shop has dozens of positive reviews for A/C repair, your shop is likely to rank high when a nearby resident searches for someone to repair their vehicle’s air conditioning.  This makes sense – Google likes sending people to places where they’ll have a positive experience.

This is why it’s especially important to have strong reviews that mention your high-margin services.  If you’re doing an ideal type of work for a loyal customer, or for a customer who seems especially happy with the service they’ve gotten, ask them if they’d be willing to write a review for you on Google.  And make sure to ask them to mention the service you performed for them.  It will bolster your reputation among people and search engines alike.

Invest, and know where you stand

If you’re known for a specific type of service, it’s worth the cost and effort to make sure you remain the best in town at it.  If you’ve got the best-trained technicians and the most efficient equipment to complete the service, you’ll probably be able to offer it at a lower price (and still make an excellent margin) than someone who has to spend twice as long on it. And even if the competition tries to underprice you, the experience at your shop will be smoother and the work quality will be better.  That’s going to bring in more customers, allowing you to invest even more.  That’s how you get a competitive advantage!

We can optimize your web presence to bring in your most profitable work, too!  To learn how, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

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