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Hi guys, ive been a long time lurker and finally got around to opening my own place. We've been open a week now and our first day was great we had 3 customer show up, two of which converted to sales. Since then it though nothing seems to have happened, phone doesn't ring, no real walk ins. Granted I've only been in business a week and I know it takes time but my question is what was it like for you guys? When did you start getting at least a couple of calls a day? I have a website with autoshop solutions as well as adwords and SEO, Ive also done 3k mailers with mudlick that will be hitting homes this week, and Ive been distributing flyers on cars on my free time roughly 1k or so thus far.

Edited by Eurozone_Motors
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Did you have a grand opening? Host a BBQ and get a local radio station to come out?

Don't forget that mailers are not a one-and done promotion. You'll probably get very low response from your first couple waves, but keep sending them to keep you in their minds.

Also, make sure your shop (if it's an older building) is surgically clean, especially the front and bathroom. You don't want to drive off a sales lead because of a dirty bathroom.

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3000 Mudlick cards should bring some business!! I would not just wait for customers though...I would go get some!!


Heat and Air companies, electricians, you name it!! We have a very good client who is a glass company with Chevy 3500 Express vans. Let them know you are open, tell them about your background and experience, and get them coming in.


***Warning ***


On the commercial accounts, get a charge card or company check for services rendered, because you need cash now, not later!!!

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Congrats on the new biz!


We are still new (1 year 4 months) but we've been non-stop busy. Went to your website and looks like you specialize in a lot of cars we do so thought I'd give you my advice. Our first month or two was hard though. This is what we did:

  • Grand Opening with free food: we hyped up our event to the car community by offering free food and nice cars to look at. We had our friends' restaurant BBQ the food and our Biz partner who is active in the community brought all his friends with nice cars. Also, customers from past shops that my boyfriend worked at also hyped it up and organized drives to our event in the car forums. About 60 people showed up. If you havent done a grand opening, I think this is a great way to show your community that you are open for business and it lets customers see what you got.
    • Side note to free food and nice cars: We also just had our 1 Year Anniversary this past October and 300 people RSVPed on FB and over that amount showed up. From 60 people to 300+, they all say they came because we are the talk of the town, plus the free food and nice cars.
  • Business cards on cars in parking lots geared towards the market you're going for. First, make sure your business cards are nice and up to date looking. Second, go to the parking lots of car show, meets, and events. We got a couple customers this way. Also, helps to make bigger cards that can show photos of your shop (must be nice photos!)
  • Partner with car leaders/orgs of the community: being a nice new shop, we were approached by several people/organizations to make deals. For example, a popular car organization wanted to offer its members discounts on labor at our shop in exchange for them promoting us in all their media and events. Another example is a person who has tons of Instagram followers wanted a sponsorship on labor in exchange for him promoting us. At the very beginning, we said yes to most of these type of relationships and its proven to help a lot. We are known in the community because of this. I do want to mention however, that we said yes even to groups who were not necessarily aligned with the market we are going for...which obviously can present some issues later.
  • Social Media: looks like you guys are pretty active on Facebook and Instagram -- always always a good thing! Post nice interesting photos. Nothing blurry, shop must look pristine in every single photo. No trash in the background, no oily floors.
  • Events, Networking, Memberships: we are closed on weekends so that we can attend events. We do a lot of trackdays with customers but if that's not part of your biz model, I would go to meets and car shows. Networking is essential in most industries. Also, find car organizations that cater to your market, become members, and attend their events. For example, BMW Car Club of America, Porsche Club of America, Sports Car Club of America, etc.....volunteer or just attend events. The term networking sometimes scares people because putting yourself out there is intimidating...but just going to events..they will start to recognize you and remember you.

Your shop looks nice also. I'm sure it will get better, just gotta keep at it and be patient.

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Thanks for the tips guys! We didn't have any sort of grand opening only because another portion of the building is being renovated and its all a shared lot so there was no space for us to house more than 10 cars. I just signed us up with yelp ppc after talking to a couple of the guys in the area and they tell me it has been working. Im sure things will pick up soon but patience isnt my forte :\

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Word of mouth. Make sure everyone you know, knows about you shop. If it's free, advertise in it. Craigs list, Facebook etc.. Always carry a stack of business cards.

Paying for advertising.

Anything in print has been a complete and utter waste for me. Less than .01 percent return. No mailers, newspapers, Welcome Wagon and even Mudlick (unless your planning on giving stuff away, which I would advise against).

What works for me (gets me 30-50 percent growth a year, just started year 5)

Affiliate with someone. NAPA, Parts Authority, FMP etc.. You need to be able to offer a decent nation wide warranty. Also it will get you on there websites and POS materials. Typically it runs 6-700 a year. Money well spent.

I offer 15 percent discount to all new customers. If your being shopped your going to have the lowest price. That will entice them to come in and try you. Going on 5 years and I still do this, although I may amend it soon if not discontinue it. Aside from this and a 10 percent military and AARP discount, I don't discount much of anything else. I don't run oil change specials etc.. I feel it brings in the wrong type of customer.

Yelp. Spend no more than $200 a month and no pay per click. Tell them that's your budget and no more. Tell them you may spend more if you see results. Yelp still brings me 20-30 new customers per month. Put the 15 percent off first time customers in your call to action for Yelp. Take care of these people. If you know they are happy don't be afraid to ask for a good review. You will live and die off internet reviews.

Google Adwords. Spent 2-300 a month the first year. Wrote my own ads and picked my own keywords. The phone would ring 3-4 times a day. When the money ran out, the phones would stop ringing. It seemed to work. I only used it the first year until I developed an internet presence.

After a year or 2 I got in with RepairPal. They are another review site with a very good online estimator. Costs about $200 a month and a couple hundred to get started. They will call you customer base and vet you. They will also ask for reviews. They got me 25 to start. That helped a lot. I probably get 6-10 phone calls a month, all that is trackable. I would say I convert most of them to appointments.

Customer Lobby. When you have a few hundred customers, you may consider them. They send out reminders and ask for reviews. They will post them to their website, your facebook page and ask for Google reviews.

Again, you can live or die by reviews. Take care of your customers. If you screw up...make it right. And, never,never lie. Just be tactful and straight up.

Grand opening. Never had one. Always though the time, energy and money would be better spent someplace else.

You may consider openbay.com. Got a call from them the other day. Sounds interesting. Not sure if it will take off or not. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Good Luck!

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I can second the "grand opening" or social event. Originally, I was hesitant to do this only because I felt like giving away free food would only draw the attention of freeloaders. Once I was open for a month or so, things were definitely slow. I was a mobile tech before I upgraded into a brick and mortar shop. I saw a lot of my customers jump ship. Many of them just decided I would hike my prices I guess, and decided to find the next civil servant who would go to them. Eventually, one of my neighbors hooked me up with a social group of businesses, entrepreneurs, etc etc. I went to a couple of their meet ups, and they really sold me on getting involved with the community. So I decided to throw a small meet and greet at my shop at a local park just minutes away from my shop. The turnout was incredible! hundreds of ppl with cars that needed service, looking for a humble, honest, repair facility. I had a great time, met some great ppl, and produced a bunch of sales. The weekend following the party, I had ppl showing up asking for info, and scoping out the location. I been pretty steady ever since.


Some more advice I can give you is be honest with yourself, and the customers. I'm sure you will generate a ton of leads. The last thing you want to do is fall short on your promises to a customer. I started to turn away the bigger jobs (head gaskets, transmissions, etc) in favor of the tires, alignments, general maintenance, and same day jobs. It has worked out for me thus far. We are just a two man show. I eventually want to add more help, and start taking on the bigger jobs.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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