How does a Garage promote itself and grow its business, through marketing, coming out of Coronavirus lockdown and moving forward? Chicane provides Top Tips for your ‘Garage Workshop Marketing Strategy’
Chicane is a respected automotive PR & Marketing company which represents well-known companies such as Schaeffler, Denso, Philips, Dayco, Tec Alliance, Hella, First Line, CAAR and many more.
The Garage sector is a vital cog in the automotive aftermarket’s distribution chain and through Autotechnician Magazine, Chicane offers advice to garages on what needs to be considered as our industry comes through the other end of the Coronavirus lockdown and how garages should seriously consider getting messages out to their customers – both existing and potential.
If you own or manage a garage workshop, you know you can’t just sit around and wait for customers to come in once we try to get back into as normal a life as possible after Coronavirus. You need to constantly work on bringing in new customers as well as making sure that existing ones return. You need PR and marketing strategies that consistently drive customers to your business, and this may be, with all due respect, the first time you’ve considered trying to get your head round a thorough marketing approach.
Thankfully, it isn’t as difficult to create as you may think, but you need the right-minded people in place to accomplish your marketing strategies.
With just a few calculated and targeted marketing approaches, you can bolster your business’s visibility and attract new customers. Chicane has put together a list of actions that could be part of your effective Garage Workshop Marketing Strategy, which you can add to your company’s new marketing plan and use to drive new business now, and in the future.
Sending information to your local media
It’s vital that you get close to your local magazines and other media outlets that distribute throughout your community and surrounding areas.
Find out which magazines (paper and digital), newsletters, flyers, freesheets etc are in your local area and source the contact details for the Editors and motoring correspondents.
Introduce yourselves as the local garage workshop and that you want to make sure that your customer base (their readership/viewership) have their hands held with regards to garage repairs of all types. You need to supply these media outlets with press releases, contributions and messages about your services, offerings, promotions, quality of brands & products, and information on your business generally.
At some point, some of these media outlets may discuss advertising with you, as some of them will be totally dependent on advertising revenues and you need to respect this. It’s seriously worth considering and as part of your strategy it may be worth discussing this option with your factor distributors, as they may have their own marketing strategy, which includes garage customer support.
You may however, initially, need to explain to some of the media outlets that this is a new venture for you and need their help in the first instance to allow you to get your messages out. Once your releases/info are out to the public and you recognise new business coming in, then that’s the time to reward the media outlets with advertising revenue and a new business relationship between you and the media is then born.
Send regular emails
Collate email addresses from your customers and consider launching an email newsletter. Email is a direct line of communication that allows you to stay in touch with customers. But, it’s only effective if you follow a few best practices.
- Understand and know your audience – Before you can create useful and relevant content, you must define your target audience. When you know exactly who you are talking to, you can create content that is much more compelling and interesting.
- Sort your audience into groups – As you build your email database, use tags to identify the qualities and habits of each customer (i.e. oil change customer, mechanical repair customer, MOT customer, body repair, PCV, LCV, CV etc.). Then, you can send specific key email messages to the sectors of your new database (i.e. only send an email with a promotion for light commercial work to the LCV owners, rather than the entire list).
- Provide more value than promotions – While customers certainly like deals, they don’t like to be bombarded with generalised information. Balance your messages by sharing more useful and valuable content than just promotional and sales-focused messages.
Send personalised service reminders and promotions via email or text
Providing personalised customer experiences is another way to make your workshop business stand out. Collecting customer data creates profiles and allows you to know when a customer’s service is due. Follow up by sending targeted and personalised reminders/promotions to customers via email or text. Ideas for these may include:
- Free offer with the purchase of another service (a thorough tyre check with repair work)
- Discounted offer with the purchase of another service (30% off oil change with MOT)
- Money-off discounts (£20 off an oil and filter change)
- Percentage discounts (20% off a brake and disc change)
- Seasonal specials (£10 off an AirCon check in May/June).
Create a follow-up programme
Another way to stay in touch with customers is to follow up with them after they’ve visited your workshop. Implement a programme that requires a call to each of your customers once they have completed a service with your garage. This is one of the garage workshop marketing strategies that allows you to collect feedback about your performance and create a greater and more personal relationship with your customers.
Website and online marketing
Provide explanatory videos online
Whether you have a YouTube facility/channel or can embed clips directly into your own website, videos are a great way to capture customer attention and provide useful, visual, information for them about their vehicle and services needed.
You can often use videos which have been produced by your supplier brands (such as the Chicane clients mentioned at the beginning of this article), which demonstrate the quality of products that you can offer your customers and why they can expect the best from your business.
Connect with potential local customers online
You might recognise the internet as a tool for connecting with people globally, however, it is just as powerful for touching base with those in your local communities. You can use garage workshop marketing strategies to target local customers that search for a repair workshop or mechanic close to them geographically by:
- Optimising your website for local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- Using Facebook and Google adverts (these don’t need to cost much at all) to target customers in your area
- Creating profiles and linking in with organisations such as Checkatrade.com and Facebook for Business.
Create a referral rewards programme
Let your customers benefit from helping you by offering a referral rewards programme. Inform current customers that if they refer a new customer to your business, they will receive benefits such as giveaways and discounts. You may also want to give small rewards to new customers when they mention a referral as that will help them remember to give credit to their referrer. This is also a program you can market at the workshop itself, at the reception and payment areas.
Blogging is an important marketing tool, not only for informing and connecting with customers, but also to boost your SEO and search return rankings. It’s not necessary to post something every day, but you should try to create and maintain a regular schedule.
In-store marketing and POS (Point of Sale)
Implement a Garage VIP Club account
If you offer regular maintenance services at your garage workshop, consider implementing a programme that will ensure that your customers will return to you for all their upcoming requirements. Creating a VIP service could allow your regular customers to spread their payments out over time, in return for discounted scheduled services.
Educate customers through informative in-store content
We all know (but might not admit) that workshop customers can be notoriously sceptical, so you have to work to create trust with them. One way of achieving this is by providing informative content that lightens their fears, concerns and confusion. In-store signage can provide content that:
- Explains how services are performed and why these are necessary
- Shares facts and evidence about the value of products and services
- Includes product/parts videos that show how items work.
As highlighted earlier, talking to your distributor and brand suppliers can help, as many of them will already have such POS and generally they will be happy to supply you with these as it will only help confidence and increased sales for all concerned.
Use in-store digital signage to promote products and services
Customers inside your garage business are highly engaged prospects. Capitalise on that attention by scrapping boring and often old and out of date posters/flyers that customers usually ignore.
Instead, use engaging and attractive digital signage marketing tools. Digital screens allow you to customise waiting area television programming (companies such as Kwik Fit take advantage of this facility), quickly update promotions, deliver animated and video advertisements, and use this marketing opportunity as a silent, but powerful continuous sales person.
Social Media marketing
Encourage engagement on Social Media
Use your social media channels as another way to deliver both informative and engaging content. You don’t need to be on every social media platform but as part of your garage workshop marketing strategies, at least create a profile on Facebook and regularly update your page with content that would interest your audience. Your content doesn’t have to be all about automotive repair work. It can be related to anything about vehicles, driving, your community and your garage business, such as:
- Driver safety tips
- Car maintenance advice
- Traveling tips
- Traffic news
- Photos of your staff and location
- Customer satisfaction stories
- Info about local events
- Support for community initiatives
- Offer discounts and vouchers for ‘likes and shares’.
Use Social Media as another customer contact platform
Being on social media isn’t just about sharing messages. It’s also about listening to what others are saying. ‘Social Listening’ is the act of tracking conversations online to get an idea of what customers think and need. Engage in social listening to get an idea about the problems your target customers have (so you can help them solve their problems) and the way that they feel about your brand (so you can address customer issues and concerns). As you engage in social listening, look for:
- Comments about your business
- Mentions of your competitors
- Remarks that relate to your industry, products, and services.
Encourage customers to write reviews
Another way to influence user-generated content to connect with more customers is by collecting and posting reviews and endorsements about your business. Positive endorsements are important pieces of a strong garage workshop marketing strategy, as they build trust and encourage new customers to use your garage.
Set up systems that encourage past clients to share reviews on feedback cards, review sites and maybe even filmed testimonials, which can be done quite simply on a digital phone these days.
Post before and after photos
You can also show new customers that they can trust you by sharing content that proves the value of your work. Digital signage, Facebook and Instagram are perfect examples of a place to share these photos.
Feature the work your technicians and bodyshop teams have completed by posting photos on your website and maybe in a printed company brochure.
One of the garage workshop marketing strategies that will help bring new customers right to the door of your business is by hosting events. Running information sessions about car maintenance is a good way to welcome new faces to your workshop, as well as strengthening relationships with regular and previous customers.
Again, your factor distributors and product suppliers/manufacturers will generally be happy to support these kind of events and make sure that their ‘experts’ are on hand to assist with the presentations.
Get involved locally
Inform/communicate with people in your community that you are very much part of it and dedicated to supporting other local initiatives. Get more involved with your own local town and surrounding areas by:
- Sponsoring local events
- Working with nearby charities
- Partnering with other local (non-competing) businesses.
Partner with other (non-competitor) local businesses
Swap marketing materials with your business neighbours to expand your customer reach. You can also take this partnership to social media and offer joint social activities/competitions by asking people to follow each other’s business accounts and share them. The winner could be offered products or services from each participating business.
Autotechnician Magazine bulletins and posts like this get you thinking outside of the box and encourage you to become more creative. However, ideas for a garage workshop marketing strategy are only powerful if you implement them.
Please don’t use this Chicane contribution to get ideas, then fail to follow through and execute your plans.
Whichever parts of this strategy you wish to utilise, create a plan of action to execute your marketing programme effectively. Prepare your own official ‘garage workshop marketing plan’ and create a schedule for it.
We sincerely hope this article has been useful for you.
If you need any help implementing part or all of your ideas or what we have suggested here, then Chicane would be delighted to help. We can sit with you and talk through it or should you wish we can implement part of or the whole concept for you as a bespoke strategy, which could include inviting your factor/distributor and main product brands to participate in one way or another.
The objective for all is simple – we want your garage repair marketing strategy to consolidate and grow your business, which will also improve your business and relationships with your customers, distributors and product brand manufacturers.
For further information please contact Chicane 01923 265 894, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.