A lot of the time, in the auto repair business if you do a good job most customers will come back. But there’s a lot of competition and many customers are wary of mechanics that they don’t know, doing a service they don’t necessarily understand, for let’s be honest a pretty complex machine. Improving your brand perception can help to bring new customers in, and keep old customers coming back. Let’s look at 9 ways you can do that:
1. Oil change reminder stickers
A simple yet effective way to show customers you care about the health of their vehicle is with oil change stickers. The sticker can include the next recommended date for an oil change or number of miles that an oil change should be scheduled.
If you did the last oil change and provided a good service then the customer should have reason enough to come back to you. You can make sure they do with a branded oil change reminder sticker.
2. Educate customers with helpful in-store information
Many customers who visit auto shops are skeptical of them. They don’t know much about cars and they might be afraid about being ripped off or unfairly treated.
One way to stand out from the competition and build trust with these people is to provide valuable in-store information help resolve any fears and confusion.
Think about flyers, brochures and signage that:
- Shows evidence of the value of certain services and products – such as certain types of tires, tune-ups, wheel alignment, air conditioning service etc..
- Explains why services are necessary and how they’re performed
You can have material designed and printed yourself, or order a lot from manufacturers and auto shop suppliers.
3. Make your service convenient
What can you do to make your service that little more convenient? People today are used to personalized services from big national companies, and these little extras can make life that little bit easier. Think about:
- Overnight/ key drop off boxes – So customers can drop off keys and information out of hours
- Text reminders – Go Reminders has automated plans – or you can handle this manually in-house
- Better communication – Such as more ways to contact you: Social media, email, text, etc.. faster response times, (one study found that 42% of customers contacting a brand on social media expect a response within 60 minutes). Don’t necessarily try to do everything if you can’t make it work, it’s better to stick at one way of communication and do it really well
4. Send personalized deals by SMS or email
People are used to personalized communication from businesses they know. It makes them feel special and appreciated, and it works. Think about personalized messages that:
- Thank customers for choosing your repair shop for their service
- Offer a free service with another (oil change with a tune-up)
- Discounted service with another (wheel alignment with a tire replacement)
- Seasonal specials – such as spring/summer air conditioning repair, winter car check etc..
5. Schedule follow-ups
Make it part of your process to call each customer after they’ve received a service from you. Not only does this look very good on you but it allows your shop to build stronger relationships with clients, so they’re more likely to come back, and collect valuable feedback too.
6. Create a service subscription plan
Encourage loyalty with an on-going maintenance subscription plan. Customers can spread their payments over a longer period of time, and possibly receive a discount for their loyalty. You could set up automatic recurring payments, that way you know you’ve got a certain amount of reliable income potentially coming in every month, 6 months, or year for instance.
7. Run hands-on walk-throughs
You’ve got to set some time aside, but it can be a relatively low-cost way to help bring new customers in, strengthen ties with old customers and show that you know what you’re talking about, and care enough to share it.
- How to check oil
- How to check tire pressure
- How to change a windshield wiper
- How to clean the underside of a car
- What to keep In an emergency car kit
There are lots of demonstrations your mechanics can provide. You can even buy some auto shop decorations and make an event on it. You could hand out cards or flyers to people who turn up offering them a discount on a future service.
8. Show you take cleanliness seriously
Since the COVID-19 pandemic people are more concerned about hygiene and cleanliness. Anything you can do to show you take this seriously can help. Making a point of showcasing what it is you do to keep customer’s vehicles clean can help with your brand perception and the likelihood that customers return to you.
- Protective floor mats – paper or low-cost plastic can be convenient, these can even be custom branded
- Protective gear stick covers
- Branded air fresheners
9. Detailed invoices
As mentioned earlier, many people are skeptical of auto repair shops. They don’t all know much about what it is you’re doing, so anything you can do to alleviate this anxiety can help. Being clear and upfront about what it is your mechanics have done can help to do this. Think about:
- Detailed / branded invoices
- Itemized invoices
- Prices broken down into parts and services
Customers who value this sort of information may be more likely to come back to your shop if they know they can expect it after each service.
10. Look professional
If you and your repair shop look professional it could have a noticeable impact on how customers view you. Whether people know it or not they make quick judgments based on what they see. If they’re spending 100s of dollars on their vehicle, they want to feel comfortable and trustworthy towards your business.
- Professional (maybe branded) uniforms for the team
- A clean, bright and tidy welcome area
- Health and safety and other signage in easy to view locations
The more you can do to improve your brand perception, the more likely customers are to choose you, stick around and even refer their friends. You could even take this a step further and offer referral rewards for customers who refer their friends to you.