Posted on: 14 January 2015
Have you decided to put your encyclopedic knowledge of all things automotive to good use and open your own auto body shop? Welcome to the crowded club. Nearly 175,000 auto body shops dot the streets of the U.S. already – to put it in perspective, that's roughly 50,000 more auto shops than gas stations. How, then, as a new auto body shop proprietor, can you stake a claim in this cluttered market and get those leaky intake manifold gaskets and burnt-out ignition coils lined up outside your garage door? Here are a few creative, simple ways for new auto body shop owners to drum up business:
Realize the Power of Referral Programs
It's no secret that word of mouth, positive or negative, can make or break your auto repair business. But don't just assume that customers will automatically rave to their friends and family about your stellar customer service and fair prices. Instead, give them personal incentive to spread the word. One simple idea for a referral program is to offer existing customers a complimentary basic service – oil change, tire rotation, etc. – for referring a new customer to you. Give them a "cheap and easy" fix for free and they will be more likely to look your way when it's time for a more costly service.
Hold Complimentary Clinics
What better way to show your clientele that you, the new kid on the block, is looking out for their best interests than to host free auto maintenance clinics? Include demonstrations on how to perform basic vehicle maintenance (checking tire threads, winterizing vehicles, checking fluids, etc.) and offer raffles prizes to encourage attendance (gift certificates for free services, merchandise, etc.). Hand out free bumper stickers, key chains, and magnets to all who attend, marketing your business the old-fashioned way. Invite your most friendly and outgoing employees to introduce themselves to potential customers and offer them tips and advice. Hold these events regularly, and your new shop is guaranteed to stand out among the countless other faceless repair shops in your area.
Get Active on the Web
A staggering number of consumers – 97 percent, according to one recent study – use the internet to find local services. To attract a steady customer base in the real world, fine-tune your virtual image first. Publish regular, relevant blog posts on your website (or hire a knowledgeable blogger to do so), using strategic keywords to increase traffic to your website. Make your website as interactive as possible, encouraging feedback and discussion. Perhaps most importantly, personalize your website by including regular messages from you, the owner, and quality, professional head shots/bios of your staff members. And, of course, maintain an active presence on the social media platforms that suit your small business best.
Follow these simple steps for success in the crowded auto repair business and you'll be knee-deep in clogged fuel pumps and worn-out brakes in no time. You might want to consider visiting another local shop, like Arringdale's Engine Rebuilding & Auto Repair, and picking up ideas from them.Share