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Monday, December 9, 2019
If you own an auto repair business, you probably know that consumers find local businesses online. And if you’ve ever bought a website from someone who doesn’t know much about auto repair or search engine optimization, you’ve probably also learned that it’s not always easy to show up online. After all, every other auto shop in town wants to show up, too, and there’s only so much space on the first page of Google.
You’ve probably also been told by a web provider that they’ll get you results if you’ll just pay them for a few more months. Sure, it takes time to show up on Google – but how much time does it really take?
The short answer is that it takes at least three to six months. You might show up further down the rankings in the first few months, but if your domain is brand new, it really will take some time to get a first or second page search ranking – and that’s if you’re doing everything right.
To get results within a quarter or two, your website needs plenty of content about your auto repair services. It needs to be well written; Google needs to see that it’s written in paragraphs written for humans, not a bunch of spammy keywords designed to trick search engines. Your site should have some good visual content and be linked to other websites relevant to auto repair. Ideally, your web provider will help you get some legitimate links back to your site, which also helps with visibility.
If you want to get the fastest results, there are a few things your provider can’t do without your help. The most important is setting up your Google My Business account; it’s free, and if you don’t have up-to-date, accurate information about your shop here, Google will punish your website in the organic search rankings. If you need help, we wrote a blog about how to set up your Google My Business profile.
Another way to boost your search results (and, more importantly, the number of calls you get) is asking for Google reviews from satisfied customers. Businesses with a strong set of reviews are more likely to search well. They are also far more likely to get called by the people who find them online.
Perhaps the most important part of searching well is to have one website. Obviously, you’re not going to get found easily without a web presence. But if you have several websites, you’re also going to have problems. Google doesn’t like delivering bad information; if you’ve got five web addresses and it can’t figure out which one is the “official” one, it’s not likely to show any of them.
To learn more about Repair Shop Websites and how we can get you found online, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Thursday, November 21, 2019
When it comes to marketing services, everyone wants to sell you something. Get your company in front of thousands of eyes! A picture is worth a thousand words! Guaranteed results! Surely if these companies stay in business, they’ve got to work for somebody. Right?
Not necessarily. Over 90% of those postcard mailers will get thrown away before anyone looks at them. A big visual ad is useless if someone isn’t actively thinking about auto repair or maintenance when they see it. And about those guaranteed results – if a marketing company could really get 100% of all repair shops a giant return on their marketing investment, don’t you think you would have heard of them by now? They’d be the only auto repair marketing company on the planet.
In fact, many of the most effective marketing techniques don’t cost as much as you’d expect. Some of them are free! Here are the most important things to do if you need more auto repair business.
Get your name where it matters online
If you’re trying to get your business in front of customers right when they’re thinking about auto repair, these are the three most important facts to consider.
To get new customers from the internet, you don’t need a beautiful, custom website. You need a site with the content that gets you on the first page of Google. And if you want to earn all of those customers who are trying to learn more about you, you want to have a Google Review rating above 4.0. That means you need to ask your happy customers for reviews, even if it’s awkward or unpleasant.
Ask for referrals (and explain why)
So many companies build marketing campaigns asking for referrals that it’s easy for consumers to get immune to them. That’s a shame, because referrals are the lifeblood of a small business. A great referral source is the easiest way for one customer to turn into a hundred customers.
When you ask for a referral, don’t do it like big business does it – an off-hand, scripted remark that’s said as quickly as possible because it’s awkward and unsure. Do it in a way that will make it have an impact.
After a customer tells you they’re happy with your work, thank them for the feedback. Then tell them you’re a small business, and you’d really appreciate the opportunity to be a home for any family or friends who are looking for a trustworthy mechanic. Tell them referrals are one of the most important ways that you get business. Give them a couple of cards and tell them to hand them to anyone who needs work done.
The reality is that most people won’t make the effort of referring you even if you ask. But if you can double your referral rate, you can have a dramatic effect on the amount of business coming your way.
Shock your customers
Every industry works to set customer expectations. The bill at a nice restaurant comes with a dinner mint. If a restaurant puts a York peppermint patty in there instead, it might surprise you, but it wouldn’t be shocking.
When you break through customer expectations with a truly unique way of showing your appreciation, however, you can earn loyal customers for life. How can you do this? There are plenty of options – you just need to get creative.
One shop partnered with a local bakery, and every customer car is returned with a bag of freshly baked cookies. Another shop keeps a stock of new Matchbox cars on hand, and customers’ kids can pick out a vehicle each time they visit.
If you’re vacuuming the car before returning it, or offering a free car wash, you’re doing the equivalent of offering a York patty instead of a dinner mint. The cookies and Matchbox cars, however, are more than that. They’re creative ways for shops to show that they’re looking for every opportunity to improve customer lives. That’s why these inexpensive gestures can turn first-time customers into lifetime customers.
Why do lifetime customers matter so much? Most companies would go bankrupt if they had to attract a new customer for each transaction. New customers become profitable when they turn into repeat customers. If you want repeat customers, you’ve got to give them a reason to always choose your shop. For many customers, showing them that you really care about them is enough to do just that.
If you’re looking for more business for your shop, call Repair Shop Websites at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Monday, November 18, 2019
Publicly traded companies have some significant advantages over small businesses. They have big budgets. Suppliers give them the best prices because they’re so large. They can build a great process once and save money across a thousand locations. However, their scale does not give them an advantage in caring.
Public companies aren’t required to pursue profits at any expense. They are, however, required to act in the best interest of their shareholders. The executives in public companies make the decisions that will make them the most money, unless it will do long-term damage to the company. In fact, most public companies will chase profit even if it does damage the company over the long-term.
Despite that, there’s a growing trend of corporations spending millions of dollars to improve the lives of the people around them. BMW works to support childhood education in nearly every country where they build vehicles. Levi’s sends their employees to the communities of supplier factories to do community service projects. Home Depot’s foundation provides up to $5,000 in supplies to non-profits in the U.S., with an emphasis on those supporting veterans.
These efforts are known as Corporate Social Responsibility. Skeptical people would point out that these programs are just marketing efforts to make the company look better. But that’s the whole point! After decades of focusing on profit, these companies are figuring out they can spend millions of dollars on charitable efforts, and people will reward them with so much extra business that they make money off the effort.
Community event sponsorship is one of the rare ways you can give something away and make money doing it. If your shop isn’t sponsoring events in your community, you should consider doing it. It’s personally rewarding to sponsor things you care about, whether that’s a little league team, a health-related non-profit or a social cause.
It also creates goodwill within your community. Your customers care about their community, and they participate in community events. They’ll appreciate your sponsorship. Many of these events also provide shirts to participants and put sponsor logos on these shirts. Sponsoring these events can be a cheap and effective way to have your shop’s logo walking around town for years.
We love highlighting our customers’ community involvement on their websites! To learn more about Repair Shop Websites and how we’ll help you stand out online, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Monday, November 11, 2019
Most auto repair shop owners don’t start a business to get rich. They want to be their own boss, to work in a place where employees are respected, and treat their customers like people and not like cash machines.
Every owner, however, reaches a point where the financial value of their business becomes important. You might be trying to decide whether to open a second and third shop. You might also be hoping to sell your shop and retire someday. In these cases, the financial value of your business is an important consideration.
It takes more than strong revenue to make a shop valuable. Surprisingly, it also takes more than strong profits. Here are three factors that help to determine an auto repair shop’s financial value.
Maybe your business has never missed a pay cycle. Maybe it’s been providing you with enough to keep your family happy and send the kids to college. Unfortunately, your potential buyers weren’t around for all of that, and those aren’t the criteria they use to evaluate how much profit they’ll make when they buy your business.
What they want is to see the accounting books – and they want those books to show a consistent trend of profitability, after all expenses are considered. That means they want books based on accrual accounting, not cash accounting. Without a few years of well-kept books, the buyer is taking on a heightened profitability risk – and taking that risk means they can’t offer you as much money for your business.
A Business That Runs Without You
What would happen if you took a few weeks off? Many shop owners have taken very few vacations over the years because they’re terrified of the answer to this question. They simply don’t have the processes in place to allow the business to function for weeks or months without their presence.
In most cases, however, when you’re retiring, you don’t sell yourself with the business. If the business can’t make a profit in your absence, that means it has no value without you. Even if you intend to work for the new owner for a year or two to ease the transition, that’s not always a reality. Sometimes, unexpected health issues or other factors force a retirement. You want to make sure that these unforeseen circumstances don’t wipe out the value of your business.
This means that your business needs processes in place to produce a strong profit even when you aren’t there. Employees need to have the knowledge, and to be empowered, to make good decisions without being able to reach you first. Businesses that can “run themselves” are far more valuable than businesses that require hiring new management to be profitable.
A Competitive Differentiator
The highest profit auto repair shops have customers who are willing to pay extra for that shop’s services. There are many reasons that might be the case. The location might be convenient. It might seem well-run, and inspire confidence even among new customers. Your shop might be considered a cornerstone of the community. You might be the only shop around with technicians who are proficient working on certain makes or models of cars.
If your shop doesn’t have a competitive differentiator, the profit that you’re making is likely to be whittled down over time by other nearby shops. If the differentiator is you, that’s also not good. Remember, you’re not generally trying to sell yourself with the company.
If you don’t know what your differentiator is, it’s a great opportunity to improve your shop and your profit margin! Competitive advantages tend to build on themselves, leading to higher profits, more satisfied customers, and more confident, purpose-driven employees.
Figure out why customers come to your shop. See if you can find trends among their answers. Finally, focus on those things, always working to make them better, and tell your employees these are the reasons that customers come back to see them over and over again. Don’t forget to advertise your superiority in these areas!
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business generate more business, email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com or call us at 855-294-6397.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Maybe you’re growing and you’re out of space. Maybe you’re trying to get a more noticeable location closer to the main thoroughfare. Maybe the rent is just getting too high. Whatever the reason, auto repair shops do move locations from time to time.
An address change is an opportunity to eliminate the biggest frustrations you’ve experienced with your current location. Ideally, you’ll face some trade-offs but be much better off.
Unfortunately, it’s also a tremendous amount of work. There are major logistical issues, new contracts, local, state and federal government paperwork. On top of all of that, you’ve got customers old and new to alert to the address change, along with how to get there.
Amidst all of this chaos, it’s easy to forget that it’s extremely important that the move be reflected on the Internet. Ideally these changes will be made as near as possible to the actual move, and all of these online changes will happen within a day or two of each other.
The first place is obviously your own website. Make sure your web provider has a notification up a few months before the move, alerting anyone visiting that your location will be changing. If you have a specific relocation date, put that on the front of your website as well. You’ll want to take a similar approach to Facebook – be sure to let your followers know about your new location early and often.
If you’re lucky enough to only be listed in the few web indexes that people actually use – mainly Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp – that means making sure all of these are updated on the day before or day of the relocation.
If you signed up for one of those providers offering to list you on 100 directories years ago, then there’s a major amount of work to be done – all of those directories don’t provide a lot of value if you aren’t listed, but if you are already listed, you want to make sure it always stays accurate. Google really doesn’t like it when one business has multiple addresses floating around the web, unless you actually have multiple locations.
You’ll want to make sure that Apple Maps is also updated, so people using Apple phones can find your new location. You can do that here.
There are a few other places where a change might be beneficial, such as MapQuest or Foursquare (which is what Bing Maps uses). But if you take care of the major changes, you’ll be 80% of the way to a successful online address change.
Once the dust settles on the move, make sure to send something to your former and current customers letting them know about your new location! It’s a great reason to contact your customers, and they might be interested in stopping by to see your new location. This face-to-face contact is a valuable opportunity to rebuild a relationship with a customer you haven’t seen in a while.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business bring in new customers (especially if a move is in your near future) give us a call at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.