4 Marketing Ideas That Will Increase Car Count Immediately

  1. Send out an email newsletter with a limited time offer. Make it such a great deal that people will run to their phones!
  2. Because only about 30% of your email list will read their email from you, send out a printed version of the offer to your whole database.
  3. An alternative is to just mail a great offer to your inactive customer list such as a gift certificate or the “check mailer.”
  4. Send out a printed mailer to your neighborhood using the US. Post Office’s “Every Door Direct Mail” program which saves about 40% on postage.

Telephone

  1. Call every customer before the sale to remind them of their appointment.
  2. Train your team how to “sell the appointment” over the phone, not the estimate.
  3. Call customers after the sale to follow up and see how their experience was. (Impressive because no one ever does this!

New Customer Care Campaigns

  1. Shock and Awe Your New Customers by giving them a new customer “welcome package”. One shop owner I know delivers a freshly baked cake to each new customer, another shop owner gives each new customer a very nice gift basket full of goodies including hats and T-shirts with his shop logo, cookies, and coupons for future savings.
  2. Thank You Cards: Send personal thank you cards after the sale.
  3. Thank You Gifts: Send generous or luxurious thank you gifts for large sales.

Loyal Customer Campaigns

  1. Create a VIP program for loyal customers.
  2. Reward loyal customers with exclusive discounts or gifts.
  3. Keep in touch with loyal customers through email and print.
  4. Send them birthday and/or anniversary cards.
  5. Give loyal customers priority service. 

Automated Marketing 

  1. Automate It: Use an auto repair shop marketing system such as Demandforce.com or MechanicNet which sends out automated welcome, thank you, and service reminder emails.
  2. Email Them: Send out a monthly email newsletter with “email only” specials.
  3. Remind Them: Send service reminder letters or postcards.
  4. If your website is not mobile or tablet friendly, it’s time to get a new website.
  5. Online appointment scheduling: Make sure people can easily schedule an appointment on your website. There are numerous affordable services that you can “plug in” to your website that will make this possible.
  6. SEO: Hire a search engine optimization company to help your website get found online.

Online advertising

  1. RepairPal.com: Get calls and tow ins for people needing auto repair in your area. ($199 month)
  2. Angie’sList.com advertising: Angie’s list will promote your business to first page for a monthly fee
  3. Yelp.com advertising: People on Yelp are looking for repair right now.
  4. Google Adwords: Get found on page 1 of Google for any term you want
  5. Facebook ads
  6. Groupon or Dealsaver promotions
  7. AutoMd.com (get more customer calls)
  8. BBB.org (get accredited, and they send you leads)

Online Reviews:  Online reviews are a must!  Here are some ideas on how to get them

  1. Ask all of your customers for online reviews on sites such as Yelp.com and Google and the BBB
  2. Ask for online reviews after the sale by training your team to give them a business card that shows where you want them to go to leave the reviews.
  3. Ask for online reviews in a follow up thank you email after the sale.
  4. Ask for online reviews on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
  5. Thank your customers when they give you reviews by leaving a reply. Do not give customers discounts or gifts for online reviews as this is against most online review company’s policy.
  6. Use online reviews on your website. Make sure you have a page on your site titled “Reviews” because this is terminology Google looks for. 

Loyalty Programs

  1. Oil change punch card. Free oil change after so many.
  2. Window Stickers: Oil change reminder window sticker with a coupon on it
  3. Oil change key fob (same us punch card).
  4. Special Promotions: Buy 3 Oil changes Get 1 Free (or whatever works for you)
  5. Thank you Check: Mail out “checks” to top customers to thank them for their loyalty
  6. Rewards Program: Implement rewards points that accumulate with each service, use for discount on future service or on “Swag.”
  7. Gift Certificates: Sell discounted gift certificates for future service
  8. Bonus Bucks: Make up some $5, $10, $20 bills with the shop name and info. People can use them like cash on their next service or give them to family and friends.

Community Advertising

  1. Signs: Put up sandwich boards on the street near you shop that say things like: “We service Honda, Acura, Toyota, etc.”
  2. Special Discounts or Days: Implement a Ladies Day, Singles Day, Seniors Day, with special services and discounts.
  3. Contests: Have a contest for ugliest car, or whatever you like. Spread the word via email and social media.
  4. Charity Event: Some ideas might be “Fill the car with food for the hungry at Thanksgiving.” Or Pay $5 to smash a car for local charity.
  5. Business Card Magnets: Turn your business cards into business card magnets. These will never get thrown away! (Note you can get them in different shapes like wrenches, cars, etc. Give them out with every sale.
  6. Freebies: Give something away free with service. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be something people want.
  7. Vehicle wrap: Put a vehicle wrap on your personal vehicle or shop vehicles advertising your business
  8. Can’t afford a full vehicle wrap, you can just wrap your tailgate or back window.
  9. Shop windows make great billboards. A sign company can make nice looking vinyl window covers.
  10. Newspaper inserts: Your local community paper may still be a great way to reach new customers.
  11. EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) An affordable way to reach your neighborhood compared to other direct mail.
  12. Movies: Turn a blank exterior wall into an outdoor projection screen and project something attention getting on it.
  13. Reader Board: Have a reader board inside or outside of your shop.
  14. Flags and Balloons: Use flag, balloons, or other décor to bring attention to your shop.
  15. Open House: Celebrate your businesses’ anniversary with an open house event.
  16. Cross promotions: Work with another local business to promote your business at their location and you will promote their business at yours.
  17. Car Care Workshops
  18. Field Trips
  19. Free Road Trip Inspections
  20. Celebrate National Car Care Months in April and October http://www.carcare.org/car-care-month/
  21. Use Co-op Dollars: Check with your automotive suppliers for advertising co-op dollars- many offer this
  22. Automotive Partner Promos: NAPA, Castrol, Bosch, and more all run promotions that you can tap into
  23. Sponsor local teams and events
  24. Host a networking group
  25. Create a scholarship in your shops’ name 

In Shop Marketing

  1. Deliver more than you promise.
  2. Clean Shop: Make sure your shop is clean enough to make your mom happy.
  3. Answer the phone: Answer every phone call within two rings.
  4. Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Send out a customer satisfaction survey and give something free as an encouragement to your customers to participate.
  5. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t tell your customers you will call them back at 1:00 if you never call back at 1:00.
  6. Over deliver: tell people their car will be ready at 4:00 but then call them at 2:00 and tell them it’s ready.
  7. Shop Contest: Have an internal contest with your employees to see who can refer the most new customers.
  8. Photos: Hire a photography student or an intern to take photos of your shop, staff, and services.
  9. Better yet, hire a professional photographer to take the photos. These will be used everywhere.
  10. Menu of Services: Have a menu of services at the front point of sale. Turn them into printed menus that people can read while they are in your shop.
  11. Signs: Make sure you have signage in your shop that lists your services and rates.
  12. Packaging: Give customers package options, i.e., good, better, best 

Become A Little Bit Famous

  1. Win Awards: Apply for and win “Best of” awards such as “MotorAge Top Shop,” “Rachet and Wrench All Stars” or local awards programs.
  2. Hire a publicist to get yourself interviewed by local media.
  3. Hire a celebrity to be your company spokesperson.
  4. Become a celebrity yourself by putting your face on all of your advertising.
  5. Create a mascot for your company. Go visit kids in the hospital. Have fun with it.
  6. Advertise on radio or television using your likeness and voice.
  7. Publicize your events: Your local newspaper and television stations most likely have a place on their website to list your events for free. Also you could list your event for free on Craigslist, Yelp, Google, Facebook and more.

Referrals

  1. Ask for referrals after the sale without even asking by using “We Love Referrals” stickers on invoices, receipts, and envelopes that remind people to send you referrals.
  2. Always send thank you notes for referrals.
  3. Give credit or “bonus bucks” for referrals.
  4. Have a referral raffle. Collect the names of people who referred new customers and have a drawing every quarter for a great prize, such as dinner for two and a ride in a limo.
  5. Have a referral contest within your shop. The employee who refers the most new customers gets a prize.
  6. Ask for referrals via email. Send out an email thank you note after the sale and ask for referrals.
  7. Goodie Bags or Gifts: Give something to new customers that their friends will want too, such as a gift basket.
  8. Join a referral networking organization such as BNI (Business Networking International).
  9. Join your local chamber of commerce and get involved.
  10. Have a customer appreciation event and invite your clients and their friends.
  11. Put stickers on all of your customer invoices saying “We love referrals.”
  12. Window hangers in cars
  13. Print your own car trash bags and leave in cars as a gift
  14. Take care of your tow truck drivers!

Social Media

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Pinterest
  4. Twitter