Auto repair shops are unique in the business world because, more often than not, in order to earn new business they have to do something their retail counter parts don’t have to do: earn the trust of prospective clients.
It’s not as simple as opening your doors, throwing up a sign and announcing your hours or the types of service you provide. Chances are, customers won’t wander in off the street to look around, either, and in most cases, there are plenty of other alternatives nearby.
You have to do a little bit of advance work to get people in the door before you can win them over with your winning business sense, excellent customer service and trustworthy work.
Here are a few tips you can use to break the ice:
1. Give away auto repair or maintenance tips.
The Magliozzi brothers are about the best in the business at this through their show Car Talk on National Public Radio (NPR). Obviously, you won’t have your own radio show, but there’s no reason why you can’t do something similar, either through a youtube channel or a blog (more on that later).
Providing auto repair tips won’t adversely impact your bottom line. It will help increase business because it will help build up trust with potential customers. Make it easy to understand and personable—which is the same kind of service people expect when they drive in.
The tips can be something easy: how to swap out an air filter, or windshield wipers. You can give a quick run-down on basic battery maintenance or how to replace spark plugs, or what to keep your tire pressure at during each season.
2.Post pictures of yourself and your staff.
There’s no better way to build up trust than to let potential customers know who you are, what you look like, and what your role is in the shop. The photos will help potential customers feel at ease. You can even add an incentive: Tell me you saw my picture on our facebook page and get an extra 5 percent discount. Those kinds of fuzzy analytics will at least let you know how people came to know you.
3. Write a blog or link other blogs to your site
As mentioned above, blogs help you earn the trust of potential customers. Because they freely provide information, they show that you are interested in serving them in the best way possible—and that they are not just a wallet or a car problem to you. Blogs also help establish you as an expert in your field. If you don’t have any writing acumen, try a simple question-and-answer format. You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to talk about tire rotation.
4. Use testimonials and reviews
Another great way to build public trust is to have other people do it. Solicit reviews from happy customers (just make sure you don’t promise anything in return). Claim you business name on sites like Yelp, so you know what people are saying about you, good and bad. Make a customer feedback section on your site and make it prominent. It will boost your credibility.
5. Establish a customer loyalty program
Offer repeat customers a discount or provide them with an incentive when they refer new customers to you. Create a system in which customers will receive a discount or free service after they return a certain number of times to your auto repair business, such as a free oil change or tire rotation. It doesn’t have to be complicated—a simple punch card will work. If you include an “ask” on your web site or facebook page, like “Ask about our customer loyalty program and receive an additional discount,” you can tie all your marketing channels together.
There are a few tips to get you going. The rest is up to you. Have you tried any of these methods? Let us know in the comments.