As the owner of a small automobile shop, you have been designated an essential business by the federal government and you’re open for business. Consider yourself fortunate. Over 40 percent of businesses are temporarily closed and businesses on average have cut their employee counts by 40 percent.
Your doors may be open but that doesn’t necessarily mean customers will automatically return to those pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers. While more car owners may be venturing out as some states ease restrictions, there are no quick fixes for ramping back up to “normal.” However, there are some online strategies that can keep customers steadily coming to your shop and help get your business back up to speed.
Before embarking on any new online strategies, you need to thoroughly check how customer service is being rendered within your shop. At least initially, some customers are going to be reluctant about venturing out, even to a business deemed an essential service.
To alleviate any concerns, clearly communicate to customers over email and phone the best practices you have implemented to keep them healthy and safe. Let them know you have special protocols in place such as no walk-in policies, procedures for vehicle drop off and pick up, extensive cleaning and disinfecting measures and social distancing rules. If you have not already done so, establish a coronavirus safety policy for your workers. These federal guidelines can help you get started.
Like a car’s chassis, a strong website can serve as an important communication structure not only for imparting key messages and information to customers but for your entire online marketing strategy moving forward. You need to be ready for customers who are seeking you out.
With a well-built website, you will create trust with customers while showing them why your shop is the best choice to service their vehicles. Having an optimized, informative and professional auto repair site that looks great on mobile, desktop and tablets will help you outdistance the competition. From design to visual appeal, Web.com can assist you with website packages featuring an easy to use website builder and professional website services where we will do everything for you from start to finish.
When someone needs their car repaired, their first action is usually a local Google search. From that search, they will typically contact a couple of names that pop up high on the list. A whopping 75 percent of searchers never click past the first page of results.
To stay within the top rankings, start by creating a list of search engine optimization (SEO) keywords that mirror your business. For example, your keywords could be “transmission,” “oil change” and “wheel alignment.” After finalizing them, optimize those words on Google My Business and your website. Make sure all your business information is accurate, verified by Google and includes name, address and phone number (NAP), service categories, hours, images and a description of your shop. You can also get helpful guidance from Web.com’s Simple SEO tool.
Other areas of SEO optimization include your website homepage and main service pages, citations and inbound links. A citation is an online listing of your business such as Facebook and general local directories or lists that target the auto repair industry. To climb Google's rankings, it is important to garner inbound links from credible, top-tier sites.
With local shops and national chains surrounding you, online visibility is paramount. Let Web.com help you with your SEO needs.
One of the most impactful ways to maximize profits and sustain your business is to boost your shop’s average repair order (ARO). As an auto repair shop owner, you may have difficulty figuring out how to increase ARO. Invest time in email marketing, which can help you become more profitable without adding overhead.
An effective email marketing campaign is based on knowing your customers, respecting their time and providing them with something of value when you reach out to them. Review your email lists and segment them out by new customers, long-time customers and owners of different makes and models. This will allow you to personalize your emails.
Another way to increase ARO is to make customers aware of new products and services, such as providing free tire rotation with your brake repair service. To kick-start your email efforts, look into setting up a professional small business email from Web.com.
Content marketing generates three times as many leads as TV and radio advertising and costs 62 percent less. Along with more leads, a strong content program can build trust, an important consideration for customers who are turning over their vehicles to your business for care.
Create a content calendar and commit to regularly publishing content. If pressed for time, ask an employee to contribute to your blog. Topics could include car safety tips, maintenance advice or a customer Q&A article. Remember your blog should not be overly promotional. View it as an opportunity to showcase your expertise and the importance of regular vehicle maintenance. Web.com can help you get started quickly and easily with a Wordpress website.
In the auto repair niche, videos are a great way to educate your customers and prospects and position your company as the top choice for auto repair. Once you've put together some high-quality videos, you can send them out via your YouTube channel or embed them on your website, then promote them via social media and emails. What you are aiming for is a short video that communicates your services and value proposition, while building trust.
To take advantage of the pent-up demand for auto services, you should start thinking about promotional ideas that can drive business to your shop.
People always like free services and offers. If you are located in a state with emissions regulations, provide a free emission preparation service. For owners of older vehicles, offer spot-checks on their car systems. You could even develop a bundled package of services specifically for new car owners or owners of aging vehicles. Display these offers on your website and other communications platforms.
Giveaways are a cost-effective way to ramp up business and provide a good return on investment. Consider conducting a raffle for a free tune-up or tank of gas. Also, bear in mind that referral programs can increase business. Think creatively and offer your customers as much value as possible when developing yours.
You are an essential business. Developing smart online marketing strategies will ensure your local community trusts your shop to provide quality vehicle maintenance and service. With our guidance and marketing ideas, you will stay firmly in the driver’s seat during slow times and stay there when your business picks up speed again.