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Repair Shop Advice

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

In our recent survey of independent auto shops, we asked what the most cost-effective tools were to bring existing customers into a shop.  The most popular tool wasn’t online search or social media (although they did place second and third, respectively).  It was customer loyalty or referral programs.  If your shop doesn’t have a formal program to reward your most loyal customers, you may be missing a great opportunity for sales growth.  Here are three reasons why.

  1. You don’t pay for them until the customer buys from you

Most marketing requires money upfront.  Whether it’s buying AdWords, paying for website services or sending postcards all over the city, you’re paying for “eyeballs” (customer attention) rather than sales.  Some providers and some services do a better job of converting that attention into visits to your shop.

With a loyalty program, however, you don’t have to provide a discount until they’re loyal – meaning they’ve visited you again.  This is a major advantage – since you don’t have to pay to advertise to a large number of people who will never visit your shop, you can afford to give a better loyalty bonus away, which inspires more loyalty.

Similarly, customers don’t receive referral bonuses unless they’ve visited your shop and they refer someone else who also needs work done.  The cost of customer acquisition, therefore, is only what you give away as a referral or loyalty bonus.

  1. They are more likely to be your best customers

Customers that are only interested in the best deal aren’t likely to visit your shop again unless you really do have the best deal in town.  That means that the customers most likely to appreciate a loyalty bonus or referral bonus are customers who are visiting you again for your service or their belief that you do high-quality work – exactly the kind of customer most shops prefer.

By providing these customers with a ‘thank you’ for their loyalty, you’ll inspire even greater loyalty.  On the other hand, continually sending out postcard coupons will attract the worst kind of customer – those who will visit whoever gives them the best deal.

  1. Loyal customers provide referrals and reviews

Because these customers are your best customers, and because you’re acknowledging their loyalty with a special benefit, they’re the ones that are most likely to leave positive reviews and refer friends and family to your shop.  And because their referrals are likely to be people who think similarly to them, their referrals will likely be valuable customers as well.  This is how a referral program not only increases sales, but increases the average repair order value for your shop.

One other note – a loyalty or referral program doesn’t have to provide a cash incentive.  There are plenty of ways you can thank great customers – whether its tickets to a local theater, free ice cream cones from a locally owned dessert shop, or even a mini-detail, unexpected gifts inspire more loyalty than discounts.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business get new customers to your shop, call us at 919-779-0954 or email us at

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Google frequently changes its requirements to rank highly in search results. If you haven’t managed your web presence in years, you’re probably not getting very much from it. Click here to learn about four things that have changed since 2015.

Friday, August 31, 2018

It’s back-to-school season for kids across the country.  Parents have spent a small fortune on school supplies, and teachers are telling kids what they’ll need to understand by the end of the year in order to be successful.  Kids, meanwhile, are learning what they have to look forward to in class for the next nine months (or longer, if they’re in year-round programs).

Whether you’re a parent or not, it’s a great time to examine some of your own goals.  While this might not be the start of the year for you, it is an important time.  That’s because September is about as late in the year as you can wait to plan a course correction.  If you set some annual goals earlier in the year but you’re still not on track to meet them, now is the time to build and execute an improvement plan.

Is your car count lower than you’d hoped it would be by the end of the year?  Is your average repair order falling short?  Are your productivity or efficiency metrics not where you’d like them to be?  There’s still a few months left to build an improvement plan and execute it!  Here are a few articles that might help you do just that.

Grow your customer base by ensuring that your website provides the three things that help grow your business, and doesn’t focus on the two things that don’t.

Grow your average repair order value by upcycling your auto repair shop’s customers, turning sporadic customers to repeat customers, and repeat customers into shop advocates.

Improve the efficiency and productivity of your technicians and service advisors by taking actions to organize the activities your shop performs.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you grow your business through a visible and expansive web presence, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us a

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The following article is a guest post from Bob Cooper of Elite.  It originally appeared in Elite’s Auto Shop Idea Center.

Over the past one hundred plus years, marketing strategies and the brands that were built were developed by two entities: the client and the ad agency. The client would tell the agency how they envisioned their brand, and the agency would develop the advertising campaigns that would create that very same image in the minds of the targeted consumers. The tobacco companies wanted to create brands that would cause a consumer to feel good when they used their products, and the ad agencies did a great job of achieving this objective.  Volvo wanted to create a brand that reflected safety, and as we all know, just about every Volvo ad sends that very same message. After one hundred plus years, that systematic method of brand creation is now dead. Not just for companies like the above, but for auto repair shops just like yours. Let me explain what has happened.

The ability to create a brand is no longer under the control of a product or service provider, nor the ad agencies. In today’s world brands are now created by one entity more than any other, and that entity is social media. The way your shop is going to be perceived in your community is based on what is being said about you, your company and your employees on social media and review websites. You may believe that you provide a great service, and that your technicians are second to none. You may also invest a lot of your hard-earned money into advertising programs to try to get that message (brand) into the minds of your targeted customers. But in reality, if the chatter in social media says that you overcharge, or that you don’t live up to promised completion times, then whether you like it or not, that will become your brand.

So here are my recommendations. First of all, accept the fact that social media is here to stay, and it is where your brand is going to be built. Secondly, you should create a plan that will have a positive impact on what is being said about you and your shop on social media sites. Obviously there are a number of things you can do, but nothing will ever trump extraordinary service. The reason companies like Nordstrom, Zappos shoes and Starbucks have such extraordinary reputations (brands) is because they deliver extraordinary service. I would strongly encourage you to review every customer touch point from fielding that first call through your customer follow-up calls, looking for ways to improve the entire customer experience.

Lastly, I am going to suggest you do something that your competitors would never dream of doing, and that is invest a dedicated percentage of your ad budget into improving the customer experience.  This means investing in the customer waiting area, your shuttle service, refreshments, extended warranties, customer follow-up and the plan you have in place for dealing with disgruntled customers.  The Marriott Corporation discovered that they were getting higher CSI scores from customers they dropped the ball with, yet the customer was pleased with the resolution, than from those who had flawless stays at the Marriott. The lesson they learned?  When a mistake is made people typically don’t expect a resolution that will make them smile, so when they are completely satisfied, they are pleasantly surprised. This is why the Marriott immediately allocated a good percentage of their training resources to dealing with customers who had a bad experience. Without question, you should do the same.

In closing, brands are no longer built on Wall Street, but in today’s world they are being built each and every day on the web. I can only hope we all agree that social media is here to stay, so you need to invest in making the customer experience incredibly positive, because if you do, your customers will do what agencies used to do, and create an extraordinary brand for you.

Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-classroom sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting, or calling 800-204-3548.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Should an auto repair shop have multiple websites?

There are plenty of reasons a business could end up with multiple websites.  Maybe a friend offered to build you one years ago, but it didn’t perform so you bought one from a professional.  Maybe your old provider never bothered to take your website down.  You might have even already had a website when another company called and convinced you to give them a try.

As a company that builds and manages websites for auto repair shops, it would be great if we could tell you that having multiple websites is the way to go – but it isn’t.  The businesses that show up higher in search results generally have only one website.  Companies with multiple sites may show up multiple times in Google – but it’s often on page five, where nobody clicks.

The reason is simple.  Google’s job isn’t to rank companies based on their online presence.  Google’s job is to pick the best individual websites on the web.  If you’ve got two or more websites, they’re competing with each other for attention, which hurts your shop.

Think of it this way – if you were in a competition to service the most number of cars in a single shop, would you build a second shop across the street?  If you did, neither of your shops would do well in the competition, because they would compete with each other.

Websites work the same way – Google is looking for the best result to deliver to web users.  If you have two sites, they compete with each other for this distinction. Each drags the other site down.

While two websites won’t help you search better, there are plenty of other things that will, such as reviews, a social media presence, or more content on your site.

To learn the techniques we use to help shops search their best online, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at

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I cannot believe what a state of the art website that you created for us. We started getting website contacts and telephone calls from our website almost instantly! The first 5 customers spent $1,723 and we got 9 new customers in the first month alone.

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A & A Tire and Auto Service


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