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Repair Shop Advice


Monday, June 22, 2020

Auto repair shop owners who use recessions as an opportunity to master the basics put themselves in a position to survive the recession – and thrive in the years afterwards. Click here to learn about three important focus areas.

 


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Social media is a hot topic right now among auto repair shop owners. We’ve specifically been hearing more questions about how to effectively use Facebook. While Facebook has been around for a long time, many of us have found ourselves using it quite a bit more during the pandemic for hyper local news and information on businesses.

From March through much of May, Google effectively put Google My Business on ice. They didn’t approve reviews and mostly allowed only Coronavirus-related updates to profiles. Many businesses turned to Facebook to keep the public up to date.

A repair shop that has an active Facebook page will have an advantage over competitors, not only in the times we are in now, but always. They’ll have the opportunity to update, share and engage with their customers more directly and more frequently.

First, Some Ground Rules

  1. How can you get the most out of your auto repair shop’s Facebook profile? It begins with following the 80/20 guideline. This guideline prompts you to post at least 80 percent value-based content, with the other 20 percent (or less) being promotional.
  2. While you’re following the 80/20 guideline, you will want to make sure your posts are seen by your Facebook followers. In order to do this effectively, you will want to create eye-catching posts that stand out. Using images of cars, your employees, or other photos you find online will help tremendously. Using online resources where you can create your own templates will allow you to change up fonts, colors, and photos. The opportunities are endless in how you can grab the attention of your customers as they’re scrolling through Facebook.
  3. An important rule to remember about any kind of Facebook post is to make it short and simple. Creating clear-cut posts and avoiding paragraphs of words will help your viewers engage more easily. If you’re one to make others laugh, add humor to what you share online! Allow Facebook to be the shop’s outlet to demonstrate the kind of people who work there and represent one another well.
  4. Also, stay away from sharing website links in your posts – Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook! Posts that include links off of Facebook are much less likely to appear in your followers’ news feeds. It is okay to do it every once a while. You can also get creative by putting the link as text in the image that you create.

Okay, now onto the posts…

Value-Based Content Posts

For auto repair shops, the best type of valuable content includes sharing car care tips and explaining vehicle warning signs. One way to do this is to focus on a specific type of car care tips or warning signs – brakes, tires, fluids, preparing for a road trip, night driving or one of many more. Choose three to five key points to highlight. Next, showcase the points through an eye-catching Facebook post. These posts will be a resource for your Facebook followers.

Here is an example of a value-based content Facebook post:

Auto Repair Shop Value-Based Facebook Post

Celebration or Holiday Posts

Another type of post that fits in the value-based content category is the celebration or holiday post. While these posts aren’t helping somebody take better care of their car, they are enhancing their day-to-day interactions with others and creating positive feelings.

For example, there are National Days such as National Pizza Day which falls on February 9th. This was a great opportunity to buy some pizzas over lunch and hang out with your employees. Don’t forget to take a picture and share it!

Those fun days go well with calendar holidays such as the Fourth of July, which is an opportune time to wish all your Facebook followers a safe weekend.

Here is an example of a holiday post:

Auto Repair Shop Holiday Facebook Post

Engagement Posts

Engagement posts are a great way to improve your reputation on Facebook. The more comments and likes that your posts generate, the more likely Facebook will be to include your posts in your followers’ news feeds. They will also increase the likelihood that your followers will pay attention to all of your posts, and if they are commenting and liking your posts, they may appear on their followers’ news feeds as well. Fun questions and trivia are two types of excellent engagement posts.

Here is an example:

Auto Repair Shop Engagement Facebook Post

Promotional Posts

As we mentioned above, up to 20% of your posts can be promotional. This is your time to advertise services that you specialize in and encourage people to contact you, but even so, you don’t want them to be super-salesy. These types of posts may include a reminder to get a vehicle’s AC checked, highlighting seasonal tune-ups or promoting timely coupons you have running in your shop.

Here is an example of a promotional Facebook post:

Auto Repair Shop Promotional Facebook Post

How can you show what makes your shop special?

Facebook is a great place to post pictures of what life in the shop looks like. That may be your modern and super clean bay area, an employee on their birthday or a classic car your team is excited to be working on. People like to engage with what’s going on right here and right now. Share what’s happening in your shop and it will help bring out what makes you and the team you work with so special. Share photos of your team – the person who answers your phone, techs who work hard in the shop or maybe you have a pet mascot. These examples show that you are all human (except the mascot) and people like to feel like they can relate to who they bring their car to. And while you are highlighting your shop, these types of posts don’t count as promotional unless you are using them to sell your services.

One more for a bonus – Community Posts

Spotlighting community events and programs you support make for great posts. If your community has local events like parades, an annual chili cook-off, 5k races or sporting events that your shop likes to be a part of – post about it! Show your shop’s interaction within the community and represent it well. These types of Facebook posts are engaging and entertaining for those who are following you. We are in the moment of buy local, sell local. Promote posts that help other local businesses in your community. Facebook is the key to get the word out in a positive way!

These tips were meant to go beyond the base level foundation of simply needing a Facebook page. If you are interested in more information and guidance on using Facebook in your shop, listen to our Busy Bays Podcast: Facebook Deep Dive. In this episode, we go even further into the “80/20” rule, why to avoid sharing links and what kind of posts are most likely to drive engagement with your customers and potential customers.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

When it comes to buying goods and services, people tend to trust their own experiences more than anything else.  But what do people do when they’re looking for a new auto repair shop? Since they can’t rely on their own experiences, they’re forced to look elsewhere to gain trust.

The biggest impact on most customers in this scenario is a recommendation from someone they trust.  This is why recommendations are such a powerful way to earn more business, whether they happen in person or on social media. Unfortunately, recommendations don’t happen unless the topic of vehicle repair comes up in a conversation – and while you probably talk about vehicle repair all day, most people don’t.

Reviews are also a powerful tool to earn trust.  Unlike recommendations, people looking for a shop can see multiple reviews almost instantly.  Great reviews lead to more business, but earning reviews often requires shops to be deliberate in asking for them, because most customers don’t think to write an online review on their own.

There is one way to gain trust that doesn’t rely on any one else speaking on your behalf, however.  One of the easiest ways to gain trust is to let your customers get to know you.  Once customers learn more about you and your employees, they’re less likely to view your shop as a business than as fellow community members.


New customers aren’t going to stop by your shop for a meet and greet, however.  If you want a chance to tell customers about the people in your shop, your best opportunity to do that is on your website.

This is why we encourage our customers to add some personality to their websites, and especially on the “About Us” page.  While most pages of an auto repair website are focused heavily on improving your search rankings for all the services your shop provides, this isn’t the case for the About Us page.

The About Us page should contain:

What Your Shop Focuses On – This shouldn’t be boilerplate language about fantastic customer service or great prices.  It’s what your shop focuses on day in and day out, and what you do better than any other shops nearby.  Whatever you say your focus is, you have to deliver on it every time.

Names, Pictures and Descriptions of Staff Members – People obviously want to know about the person running the shop – that person’s values and attention to quality will impact the behavior of every employee that works for them.

But customers wonder about the person that’s actually going to be doing the work on their car, too.  How long have they been there?  Do they do good work?  Do they take pride in their work?  The About Us page is a place to help customers put a face to the names of all your staff members, detail your team’s experience and accomplishments, and give customers more confidence in the work your technicians perform.

Community Involvement – If your shop sponsors any local events, offers vehicle maintenance classes or participates in other community activities, this is a great place to put information (and pictures) about your involvement.  The more that customers see you and your shop as a member of the community instead of a company, the more comfortable they’ll feel that they’re going to get good, honest service.

Improving your About Us page (and other areas of your website) by adding pictures and personal information is one of the most cost-effective things you can do to bolster trust in your shop.  

To learn how Repair Shop Websites helps auto repairs shops across the United States and Canada earn new customers, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Six months ago, experts were debating when a recession would hit.  Now, they’re trying to predict how bad the Coronavirus-induced recession is going to be, and how long it’s going to last.  Most experts think it’s extremely bad, and it will probably last through 2021.

On the whole, recessions are bad for business.  But there have always been opportunities during recessions.  Some products and business models just do better when most everyone else is doing worse.


With that in mind, here are two types of auto repair shop customers who will struggle during this recession, and two who won’t.

Recession-Risky: The Maintainers

The people who spend the least on vehicles over their lifetimes are also among the most profitable for repair shops.  They are the Maintainers – people who come into the shop regularly to make sure their vehicle isn’t slowly falling apart in some way that will cost thousands of dollars to fix.  They may not follow the maintenance guidelines in their owner’s manual, but they do follow your advice to keep their vehicle running for as long as they can.

Or at least they do for as long as they have the money to do it.  When smart people are short of money, they pull out their bills and start asking the question “what happens if I stop paying this one?”  The mortgage, power and water bills get kept pretty quickly.  Other quality-of-life expenses make the cut, too.  But what happens to a well-maintained vehicle if it skips one service?  Probably nothing – so it’s likely to get cut.

Unfortunately, one missed appointment can quickly turn in to three or four.

Recession-Risky: The Business Drivers

Six months ago, the sharing economy had made business vehicles one of the fastest growing category of customers.  While Uber and Lyft drivers didn’t make a lot of money, they were reliable customers for many shops.  For these drivers, a vehicle was a business expense, and they understood that maintaining a vehicle was cheaper than replacing it.  They also knew that a day off the road was a day without pay.

While food delivery remains strong, the ride-sharing business model has been eviscerated by Coronavirus.  While it’s true that some people who relied on ride-sharing exclusively will be forced to buy a car (good news for shops) most of these lost miles will simply be trips that aren’t taken. People won’t drive downtown if they don’t feel comfortable taking an Uber – they just won’t go at all.  And those billions of lost miles will hurt shops and manufacturers alike.  And it’s not just Uber and Lyft – the rental market has declined so quickly that Hertz lost 75% of its value within a month of the lockdown and went bankrupt within three months.

Recession-Resistant: The New Car Crowd

One group of people you rarely see in an independent shop are members of the New Car Crowd.  These people love having the latest tech and the newest design, and they’re willing to pay for it.  The most obsessed members of the New Car Crowd lease their vehicles, Others buy their vehicle, but trade it in for a new one right after their monthly payment is gone.  Dealerships understand the amount of money they can make on these customers, and they put extra effort into getting them to come to the dealership for repairs as often as possible, hoping they’ll drive off with a shiny new vehicle instead of their old one.

Unfortunately for dealers, the new car market has collapsed.  Sales are down more than 50% year-over-year.  And as salaries and credit ratings go down, some members of the New Car Crowd make the responsible decisions to hold on to their cars for a bit longer than they used to.  After their extended maintenance contract expires and dealership repairs start costing an arm and a leg, they’re more likely than ever to give your shop a call, especially if you have a stellar reputation.

Even if members of the New Car Crowd do decide to trade-in their vehicle, the lightly used vehicle market is currently lopsided in the buyer’s favor, making it an attractive money-saving option.  And if most or all of Hertz’s 500,000 vehicle fleet floods the used car market, buyers may be able to buy a used vehicle at some of the best prices ever.

Recession-Resistant – The End-of-the-Road Customers

One customer that shops can always rely on is the End-of-the-Road crowd.  These are the opposite of the maintenance crowd – they ignore their vehicle until it stops running for some reason, and then end up in your shop to figure out what the damage is.

It’s true that many people who ignore maintenance don’t have the money to pay for it.  These customers aren’t going to be in any better shape during a recession.  But not having a vehicle means not having a job for many people – and if there’s a way to get back on the road, they’ll prioritize it over almost anything.  While you may need to work with these customers on price, these vehicles are likely to keep showing up at your shop, likely on the back of a tow truck.

Not all End-of-the-Road Customers are in dire financial straits, however.  Some people just really hate taking their vehicles to the shop and avoid it at all costs.  Others always have something “more important” going on until their car strands them on the side of the road.  Many of these customers will be able to pay a reasonable price – and they may not really care to know all of the details about what you have to do to get the car back on the road.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business earn more business with a strong web presence, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

One-third of people recently described themselves as highly distressed during this COVID-19 Pandemic. To get a steady flow of vehicles into your auto repair shop, you’ll need to get past that fear and distress by reassuring potential customers and making them feel comfortable with doing business with you. Click here for three ways your shop can address their fears.

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