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Facebook and word of mouth through our military community has helped us greatly. We have also sponsored lots of local teams and such, this way people see the logo and it creates brand recognition. It may not bring them in RIGHT NOW but it will put the brand in the back of their head and when they need something and do a search on google or something like that there is a more likely chance they will choose that brand.

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Referrals...

 

I have done 0 advertising in the last 7 months. I had to work last Saturday and Sunday to catch up. My other mechanic got 7 hours of overtime last week. We work late just about every single night. We just ordered another lift and oil drain for the shop and I have ads on craigslist for another mechanic.

 

All of this is due to customers who walk out my door with 7-10 of my business cards in their hand. They call us up and say 'Hey, while y'all have my car in the shop, will you put some more of your cards in the cup holder?'

Edited by mmotley
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Referrals work excellent! We did a program and gave out 5 - $20.00 referral cards to give to their friends and family or anyone else, and if a new customer came in with the referral card they received $20,00 off that visit, and we would put $20.00 on the customer's account who referred them to us. It worked pretty well.

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What do you think about out of the area customers who have never been to your shop, or possible customers that just moved to the area? Word of mouth may not work. How would you advertise to these customers if you don't know about them?

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What do you think about out of the area customers who have never been to your shop, or possible customers that just moved to the area? Word of mouth may not work. How would you advertise to these customers if you don't know about them?

 

 

Direct Mail Pieces are not a bad option but they cost a lot and you need to be consistent with it. It is said it will take several times being in front of a potential customer before they decide to use your services or check you out. You have to be on the front of their mind when it comes to auto services. I believe some Direct Mail companies have programs for people who just moved in.

 

Online advertising is still the best bang for your buck in higher density populations. As Gen Y gets older its going to become the norm to search up all services needed by smart phones/internet. Gen Ys hardly even check their mail anymore.

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What do you think about out of the area customers who have never been to your shop, or possible customers that just moved to the area? Word of mouth may not work. How would you advertise to these customers if you don't know about them?

 

I still say word of mouth in both cases. Count this up to luck or whatever, about 2 years ago I had customer from out of the area swing into our local Taco Bell around 5:00pm with a flat tire. Someone one at Taco Bell recommended us. To make a long story short we got the customer to our shop and ended up selling them a new tire. Now here is the best thing, about 2 weeks later I'm reading the letters to the editor in our local newspaper and here is a letter from the customer that lived about 300 miles away saying how well they were serviced and treated by us. The point on this one is word of mouth from our locals and the customer from out of the area did a bunch of free advertising for us.

 

As for the new residents that move to the area. I just had a lady come in last week that was new to the area and she stated that a co-worker recommended us. I myself have moved 3 times for my job, and each time I ask my coworkers where are the best places to eat, Who is the best Veterinary in town to bring my dog to and other stuff like that. I have never found myself going to what I get in the mail.

 

I do still do some advertising most of which is sponsoring the local kids soccer program my logo ends up on over 300 shirts. I also make sure I get in all of the High school sports programs. I like this advertising because I feel that I'm helping out in the community and that if I can get the parents in here someday when the kids are adults and on there own I will get them in here as well.

 

Now all this being said I have only been a Manger for over a year now, and there are many more people that are smarter then me on here. I found this is what has helped turn this store around. In a different market it could be a completely different scenario.

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I still say word of mouth in both cases. Count this up to luck or whatever, about 2 years ago I had customer from out of the area swing into our local Taco Bell around 5:00pm with a flat tire. Someone one at Taco Bell recommended us. To make a long story short we got the customer to our shop and ended up selling them a new tire. Now here is the best thing, about 2 weeks later I'm reading the letters to the editor in our local newspaper and here is a letter from the customer that lived about 300 miles away saying how well they were serviced and treated by us. The point on this one is word of mouth from our locals and the customer from out of the area did a bunch of free advertising for us.

 

As for the new residents that move to the area. I just had a lady come in last week that was new to the area and she stated that a co-worker recommended us. I myself have moved 3 times for my job, and each time I ask my coworkers where are the best places to eat, Who is the best Veterinary in town to bring my dog to and other stuff like that. I have never found myself going to what I get in the mail.

 

I do still do some advertising most of which is sponsoring the local kids soccer program my logo ends up on over 300 shirts. I also make sure I get in all of the High school sports programs. I like this advertising because I feel that I'm helping out in the community and that if I can get the parents in here someday when the kids are adults and on there own I will get them in here as well.

 

Now all this being said I have only been a Manger for over a year now, and there are many more people that are smarter then me on here. I found this is what has helped turn this store around. In a different market it could be a completely different scenario.

 

I like your sponsorship idea!

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I still say word of mouth in both cases. Count this up to luck or whatever, about 2 years ago I had customer from out of the area swing into our local Taco Bell around 5:00pm with a flat tire. Someone one at Taco Bell recommended us. To make a long story short we got the customer to our shop and ended up selling them a new tire. Now here is the best thing, about 2 weeks later I'm reading the letters to the editor in our local newspaper and here is a letter from the customer that lived about 300 miles away saying how well they were serviced and treated by us. The point on this one is word of mouth from our locals and the customer from out of the area did a bunch of free advertising for us.

 

As for the new residents that move to the area. I just had a lady come in last week that was new to the area and she stated that a co-worker recommended us. I myself have moved 3 times for my job, and each time I ask my coworkers where are the best places to eat, Who is the best Veterinary in town to bring my dog to and other stuff like that. I have never found myself going to what I get in the mail.

 

I do still do some advertising most of which is sponsoring the local kids soccer program my logo ends up on over 300 shirts. I also make sure I get in all of the High school sports programs. I like this advertising because I feel that I'm helping out in the community and that if I can get the parents in here someday when the kids are adults and on there own I will get them in here as well.

 

Now all this being said I have only been a Manger for over a year now, and there are many more people that are smarter then me on here. I found this is what has helped turn this store around. In a different market it could be a completely different scenario.

 

Sponsoring schools, community, sports teams is brand awareness which if you are consistent can pay dividends in the long run!

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  • 4 months later...

Most would probably say word of mouth. But it's also important to consider what word of mouth means these days - how are people actually "telling" their friends, with as much as people talk via texting, FB messaging, email, in addition to just talking in person? And how will the person they tell look you up after being told about your shop? If they share your shop name via text will the person jump on Google to find your address/phone number? That means you need a good SEO and local SEO presence. If you're recommended on FB, are they going to look for your FB page? Hopefully you have one. You get the point.

 

Word of mouth takes place just as much online as it does offline these days, which means you have to cover all your potential entry points. You can no longer assume that people will always share your phone number when they're talking to people, or that the referral will call you.

 

I think the better question might be, who is your ideal customer and where are they hanging out on a regular basis? That will tell you where your opportunities are to get exposure.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The whole advertising industry is changing.

Things that used to work for some people don't anymore and the old things that didn't work are coming back with a new spin.

 

So, before you buy anything. Stop. Think about who you want to communicate with because that's what's going to define your answer.

 

If you're marketing to people 37 and under, Social Media is the best, least expensive answer if you work at being good at it. That said, if you put up automotive content and you're trying to network with women it may not be the thing that interests them enough to like you or comment on Facebook.

 

So, in this day and age, think about how to say something interesting to the people you want to come to your shop and keep the conversation going by facebook, twitter, google and even email. Many companies offer turnkey services for this that will cost you one to two dollars an hour.

 

Since the law says you can't email people without their permission (its called spam) then don't forget direct mail. A good list broker can find you lists to mail letters and postcards to. If you don't have or don't know where to find one, let me know I'll give you some references.

 

Postcard mailers can cost around a dollar each with 4 color printing postage, labeling and mailing. There are turnkey service bureaus who do that.

 

Remember, it's advertising. So don't do anything just once, don't rely on just one way to get your message to the market you want to serve and remember, no advertising you can buy is better than work of mouth.

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We just had the privilege of opening a second shop location in our area of East Texas. Our most successful mode of advertising is word of mouth.

 

Create and in house referral rewards program. Tell every customer that when they refer someone to their shop, they will get something (free oil change, $20 gift card, etc.).

When you work this program it works! We also focus on social media and getting involved in our community. Social media reaches everyone for minimal cost and while volunteering is primarily for giving back, it also helps get your name out there.

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The whole advertising industry is changing.

Things that used to work for some people don't anymore and the old things that didn't work are coming back with a new spin.

 

So, before you buy anything. Stop. Think about who you want to communicate with because that's what's going to define your answer.

 

If you're marketing to people 37 and under, Social Media is the best, least expensive answer if you work at being good at it. That said, if you put up automotive content and you're trying to network with women it may not be the thing that interests them enough to like you or comment on Facebook.

 

So, in this day and age, think about how to say something interesting to the people you want to come to your shop and keep the conversation going by facebook, twitter, google and even email. Many companies offer turnkey services for this that will cost you one to two dollars an hour.

 

Since the law says you can't email people without their permission (its called spam) then don't forget direct mail. A good list broker can find you lists to mail letters and postcards to. If you don't have or don't know where to find one, let me know I'll give you some references.

 

Postcard mailers can cost around a dollar each with 4 color printing postage, labeling and mailing. There are turnkey service bureaus who do that.

 

Remember, it's advertising. So don't do anything just once, don't rely on just one way to get your message to the market you want to serve and remember, no advertising you can buy is better than work of mouth.

You have to put a great deal of thought into who your ideal customer is and come up with creative ways to engage them. Create a few segments and engage with them differently. Nobody says you have to post the same content all the time on social media - it doesn't even always have to be car related. It has to be relevant to your demographic.

 

Here's a great article that everyone here should read, which talks about a shop that started a campaign that targets female customers:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-case-study-victory-auto/

 

Once you define your ideal customer and what they're interested in reading about you can create some marketing campaigns to educate them, entertain them, and build a relationship with them.

 

One thing I would say everyone should do even if you haven't nailed down a solid overall marketing strategy is START BUILDING (or continue to build) YOUR EMAIL LIST. Get people to subscribe to an email list for news and updates from your shop. Even if you don't have anything to send out at the moment, start building that list yesterday. That is one of THE most effective forms of marketing these days, hands down. Think about it, those people want to hear from you. And when combined with social media and other forms online marketing it can be extremely powerful - far more powerful than any one form of online marketing on its own. Add a newsletter sign up to your website, to any electronic communications you send out, etc. Some services (like Constant Contact) even have a "text to subscribe" feature.

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Facebook has been good for us. Another avenue is networking groups. BNI (Business Networking International) has also been successful. It has helped to grow trust between us and other businesses in our area.

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The only paid advertising I do now is the local town phone book, and the local KOA & Thousand Trails camp grounds maps. I know for sure I get return from the camp grounds, the customers always tell me how they found us. As for the book, it's small but I feel necessary.

So many good ideas here, but when I wear as many hats as I do (as we all do) I find I have no time to do the Facebook updates.

I tried to do the local sponsorship for a couple teams, but now they don't add the logo because now they ask for they are reusing the shirts for the next year, strange as that sounds.

Google and Yelp reviews ~ I had self-inking stamps made up "Review us on Yelp" & " Review us on Google", I stamp every customers receipt and circle with a bright highlighter pen.

But I will think more on the referral business card idea, I like that one!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, for those who aren't aware, posting via your FB page is now a lot less effective for most of us due to FB's new changes. This means that you MUST post content on your FB page that people find interesting enough to engage with (Like, Comment, Share). If you don't, your content will be dropped to the bottom of all your followers' news feeds and nobody who likes your page will ever see it - it's the equivalent of having your website fall from the first page of the search results to the 20th page. Every status update you post should included a photo or video, and calls to action to get people to engage with the content are critical.

 

This might scare some shop owners off, as many will automatically resign themselves to the idea that they have no chance of getting exposure on FB anymore. That's an understandable reaction. But if you're posting content that people care about it still works and you can still have some success. Keep in mind, this change that FB made affects everyone, including your competition. If you don't know what to post, take a look at what your competition is doing, and/or other shops who offer similar services as you. Pay close attention to those pages that are getting several Likes, Comments, and Shares on the content they post and take a moment to determine why they might be getting the engagement they're getting.

 

I've found that mixing in some FB ads for certain promos works, even if it's just spending $10-20 for a boosted post. Liking and commenting on anyone who comments on your content now becomes really important too. Like with anything in business you just have to learn to adapt and find new ways to make the system work for you.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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