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Demandforce/ CustomerLink? Marketing help

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My wife and I are starting a repair shop and I honestly know very little about the business side. We haven't opened yet but are getting ready to. I really believe on working ON the business, but I feel kinda out of my element and need as much advice as possible. So my questions are:


1. Do you recommend Demandforce/Customerlink? Why or why not? What has your experience been??


2. WHat I'm really looking for is a set and forget type marketing system. Does anyone else feel this way or are most of you happy to do your marketing by yourself? I feel like it will be overwhelming, but I;m not sure if that's normal or it will be less overwhelming once I start?? Thoughts? Is there a system like that out there??


3. What should I look for when investing in marketing?? What are the best marketing thinsg you've done so far??


Thanks a ton



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First of all, the best of luck to you.


Marketing includes a lot of different strategies. For a new start up, the first thing I recommend is grass roots marketing. Get out into the community, every organization, sports team, business network groups, church function and all community events. Get people to know you and what you do. This is cost effective and works.


Down the road you can put a plan together to do more advertising and marketing.

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I used DemandForce and dropped them after the trial period because aside from a few testimonials and about 50 email address that were either dead or opted out, they did NOTHNG for me. The problem as I see it is they are either exclusively email based or very expensive post cards. The problem with email is getting them and getting usefull addresses. I don't know why but people will give you their physical mailing address or their home address simply because you ask, but they hesitate to give email addresses. My experience when I asked for email address was "What do you need that for?" "What are you going to do with it?" "Well, I'll give you THIS one." Unless I have an immediate need for it they didn't want to give me their email address. Even people who eagerly gave it to me unsubscribed when DemandForce sent them the "opt out."


CustomerLink on the other had was a service I used for many years. My redemption rate was extremely low. Their R.O.I. reports were VERY optimistic. Here's an example, you get a new customer or a customer they would mail to. They visit you on Tuesday and you schedule their follow-up or "found work" for the following Monday. Because you submitted your data and CL scheduled your postcard for that customer, their follow-up visit is credited to the CL postcard. CL did NOTHING to get you that customer. They did NOTHING to get you that follow-up work or to get the customer to return, but because your customer returned AFTER CL scheduled your Thank You card, CL claims they were responsible. I also did a new customer acquisition campaign with them after about 2 years with them and they had a profile of my best customers. I got zero response from a couple hundred mailings. They offered and mailed a second mailing and I got exactly zero response from that too. I was not displeased with my experience with CustomerLink but I ended my contract with them because of several reasons, not the least of which was the disingenuous R.O.I. report but high on the list was the 3 week lag from the time a new customer visited and the time the Thank You post card was mailed. I also had it set up to mail Thank You cards for any visit over $150 and those were 3 weeks of lag time too. I found this more of an insult than a Thank You.


It may seem overwhelming but I woudl say do your advertising yourself. You control the message, you control when it goes out and who it goes out to. I am currently working with a marketing coach and yes, sometimes the marketing gets to be alot. But as a new shop, you are going to be working on building relationships. Doing your marketing yourself will show, it will be more personal and you will have postive response. And above all, TRACK IT ALL!!! IF you can't track it, don't do it. At least until you know what you can track is working. If you can't track it, if you can't expect a verifyable return, it's not marketing, it's a give-away. Like my ads in the local high school yearbooks.

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Trusted mechanic - if you don't mind sharing what marketing coach you are working with? I can see the power and effectiveness in controlling your own marketing. I read an article about a shop where the shop owners daughter was a marketing major and handled all of the shops marketing with great success and 100% track ability.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have tried CustomerLink with little success. They are okay with retention, but I can do just as good myself. I posted this in another forum:


"I have tried all the mailing statigies. It has worked a little. I think it is probably our location. We are some what in the middle of no where. Every new customer says that they never new we were here, even though they have driven past our shop many times. Mailing lists get to become pretty expensive, and I have tried post cards, brochures, and letters. They all seem to get about the same returns. Recently, I spoke to someone from a tech group that I am involved with, and they mentioned an upcoming website that is suppose to advertise for you. He also said it is going to be fairly cheap (We'll see?). I guess it works in conjunction with word-of-mouth. Its a lead generator. It gets the customers to our doors, and our quality services keeps them there. I will let everyone know if I here anymore updates. It may be worth a try."


The hard part is getting them in the door. The easy part is keeping them happy. :lol:

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Well, I guess it depends on the size of your business. If you’ve just opened and it is a small family auto repair, it will be enough to add your shop to yelp. Work for a full due and you will get good reviews from your customers. If you are planning to use auto repair shop software to process work order management try to choose application that will help you to track sales, review return on investment and calculate profit margins etc. For example, in our shop we don’t use any marketing applications, but we have application to run it, AutoRepair cloud. I would say that the app is for small shops, but it has many useful features, like accommodation in nationwide cat, mobile application for customers, work order management etc. All these improves the Customer Experience.

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I just wanted to hop in an mention an opportunity here - our program is geared around reaching new customers and growing customer loyalty. When consumers use our app (mycarfax.com), they can look for participating shops in our network - about 33k of them. If you get a customer in the door, you can leverage our app to remind your customers when they're due for routine maintenance AND we'll highlight your shop as the place to go.


It's pretty simple - you work on their car, they sign up for myCARFAX within 30 days, and we'll always recommend your shop as recommended facility.


In context here - no, it's not going to replace direct mail or other services marketing groups provide; but it is a FREE way to get your shop in front of your customers more often, all on their phone or online.





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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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