Marketing Through Tough Times

Friday, July 31, 2020 | August 2020

Effectively using social media to market in our world’s new climate

Many owners in small towns around the Midwest have been able to lean on their close community and the power of word-of-mouth to get customers into their shops for decades.

But the recent pandemic has resulted in a shift in how businesses operate and how customers interact with the outside world. In order to battle these new challenges, shop owners have been forced to get the word out about their business online.

Those who have been marketing through social media have ramped up their efforts, and those who have yet to jump onboard are creating an active online presence. Facebook pages for shops throughout the country like Otto Service in Kansas City, Mo., and Hwy 7 Service Center in Newell, Iowa, are now posting content to disseminate updated information and make sure their customers feel safe using their services.


With many businesses sadly closing during this time, it is important your customers know you are still open and ready to continue providing safe and excellent repairs.

During the midst of the virus, the first thing customers would see when visiting the Otto Service’s Facebook page is the cover photo. In large blue writing over a photo of the shop it says “Yes, we are open!”. Terri Otto, co-owner of the Kansas City shop with her husband Andrew Otto, made sure there was no question of whether or not Otto Service was open for business.

“Whenever I go anywhere I always look at their social media first, because I want to know what’s going on prior to walking into their doors,” Otto says. “I feel like our customers have all their questions basically answered before they even call or visit us.”

She also recommends that if your shop has changed hours, those get updated everywhere online as well. This important information should be pinned to the top of the Facebook page so it’s the first thing each customer sees.


Whether it be during a worldwide pandemic or not, keeping your social media personable and relatable is key.

The recent state of affairs pushed Danielle Bohlmann, co-owner of Hwy 7 Service Center with her husband Brett Bohlmann, to be far more active on the shop’s Facebook page. Her marketing tactic during this time has been to stay as personable as possible. Beyond posting a video explaining shop updates, their page’s timeline is filled with engaging photos, fun and informative videos, recipes to do with your kids at home, and other content meant to show the faces behind the business.

A customer favorite has become the shop’s “Mr. Technical” videos. These short clips give a peek into the shop and provide valuable information with a fun spin.

“A lot of our marketing is very tongue-in-cheek, we want to talk about our business and our services, as well as what sets us apart, but with humor,” she says.

Otto has a similar lighthearted approach to her shop’s marketing, with #TinyTechniciansTuesday (activities for the young ones), timely quotes and humorous images, and birthday posts for staff members.

With things around the globe being very serious, these posts can create a connection with customers and add a much needed sense of ease and trust.


A mission that runs through the auto repair industry has always been community. Community is what continues to support small businesses and many owners are looking for more ways to be involved and give back. But many large community gatherings and events have been either cancelled or rescheduled in wake of current events.

To ensure that Hwy 7 Service Center continues to play an active role in their community they have found creative ways to give back.

After an annual spring community event centered around parents and children coming together for a teddy bear workshop had to be cancelled, Bohlmann delivered the materials to a local moms group to distribute the bears. She then posted photos of the kids with their bears on Facebook in an effort to continue to showcase their local community.

Terri Otto, co-owner of Otto Service
-Terri Otto, co-owner Otto Service


“A lot of our marketing is very tongue-in-cheek. We want to talk about our business and our services, as well as what sets us apart, but with humor.”

–Danielle Bohlmann, co-owner, Hwy 7 Service Center