Transparency isn’t just a value—it’s a business strategy
BY BRIAN WALKER
AS AN AUTO REPAIR SHOP OWNER, YOU KNOW THERE ARE TWO PRIMARY ways to increase your shop’s revenue: bring in more cars or increase your average repair order. Most of the time, if you want to bring in more cars, your first thought is to ramp up your marketing. But what do you do to increase your ARO? Management professionals will tell you that increasing ARO comes down to proper digital vehicle inspections and having your service advisors hone their sales skills. But what if I told you your marketing plays a huge role in increasing ARO?
THE PERFECT CUSTOMER
You’ve probably heard the saying, “people do business with people they know, like, and trust.” Picture your best customer—the one who drops off their car and says, “Whatever it needs, just do it.” You probably know their spouse’s name, what they do for a living, what their hobbies are (and more), but you never thought much about how that actually happened. The fact is, you and that client hit it off and now you and that customer have a relationship. They know you and like you, and most of all, they trust you.
Almost every shop has a handful of customers like that—you never have to “sell” them anything. You genuinely enjoy seeing and talking to them when they come in for service. They are the perfect customer! For those perfect customers, knowing, liking and trusting you happened naturally. To create more customers like them, you need to get intentional.
HELPING PEOPLE KNOW AND LIKE YOU AND YOUR STAFF
Getting people to know and like you (and your staff) involves sharing a bit of your life with them. In your waiting area and at the counter, you and your service advisors should have pictures of yourself and/or your family doing the things you love to do. Pictures like these help spur conversations between you and your customers.
On social media, YouTube, and in your marketing emails, share life events like birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, new babies, adoptions (kids and pets), etc. One of our clients’ kids race motocross, and when we share their race pictures and videos to social media they get more engagement than any of the business-related posts we do. Another shop we work with has a shop dog who has gained a pretty big fan base of his own. Think about the things that make you and your staff relatable to others, and share those things often.
EARNING YOUR CUSTOMER’S TRUST
Gaining trust is a bit of a different strategy. Much of this happens by default as people get to know and like you, but you can take it further by sharing your knowledge and expertise. When in-person, bring your customers into the shop and show and explain to them the findings on their car. Better yet, have your technicians do the talking.
In your marketing, video is king for building trust. Becoming comfortable in front of the camera is a must in today’s market. It used to be that you could only earn people’s trust when they were at your business. Technology has given us the wonderful gift of being able to maintain and even build those relationships between visits. Use video to show interesting problems that you find. Show the diagnostic process so people get to experience your expertise. Show how you do things that other shops don’t. For some examples, we have a great series on using video in the shop that you can take for free at ShopMarketingUniversity.com.
Getting people to know, like, and trust you can take a little bit of work and require you to step out of your comfort zone, but in the end, you and your shop will be better for it. Put these tips into place and you’re sure to see your ARO grow.
Brian Walker is co-owner of Shop Marketing Pros, an agency that provides marketing services for auto repair shops. Brian is a 26-year automotive industry veteran. He was ASE Master Certified and was a Mercedes-Benz Master Technician. He and his wife, Kim, owned three shops in the Raleigh, N.C., area.