Cars have a much longer lifespan these days. Thanks to better built powertrains which are more durable than ever before, car owners are able to keep their vehicles much longer than they used to simply by having them serviced regularly. Considering that the average age of cars on the road today is approximately 12 years, this is sweet music to every auto mechanic’s ears.
But with this shift in longer car ownership comes more auto shops competing for customers. This is why local advertising for auto shops is more important today than it has ever been.
Here are eight different types of local advertising that can work well for auto repair shops, especially when used in combination with one another, plus 3 types used less often for auto repair shops.
- Online Listings
- Online Reviews
- Register Tape Advertising at Grocery Stores
- Social Media Advertising
- Google Paid Search Ads
- Direct Mail
- Auto Events
- Referral Program
1. Online Listings
Have you ever done a Google search for “auto repair in [insert town]”? Or have you searched for a specific auto repair need such as “transmission repair in [city name]”? The results often include “aggregate listings” on third party websites. This could be on Yelp, or perhaps a local business listing website that has put together a list of auto repair shops in the town. Is your auto repair shop included in the online listings that appear in the results? Sometimes the lists are put together based on who has good reviews. And other times you can pay to be a part of these lists. It’s worth looking into the lists that exist in your city and getting added into them. (You may be surprised to find that you’re already on a few of the lists! But it’s important to know which ones you need to get added to.)
You can also find results in the Google map results or in the Bing map results. Be sure you have claimed your listing and added information about your services, hours, specials, etc. The map listings appear above the organic search results and can have a big impact on potential customers finding you. Your listing is free (sounds good, right?) so be sure you have claimed it and updated it.
When you do this, be sure the website you add to the listing has updated information about your services, prices, location, etc.
2. Online Reviews
Reviews are used by more than 85% of consumers when making decisions. They are powerful and there’s no denying it. So what do your reviews look like? Sometimes you might find that people have been reviewing you without you knowing it.
Look at the reviews on important sites such as:
- Yelp (Used on Bing and Yahoo listings)
- Angie’s List
You may need to “claim” an account to be able to write a response to reviewers. Once you own it, be sure you respond to as many reviews as you can. By doing this and showing others that you’re paying attention, even a bad review can turn into a positive result. Now, go ask your customers to post their reviews. You might even give them a reward to be used on their next visit to your auto repair shop when they post a review on a third party website.
3. Register Tape Advertising at Grocery Stores
Register tape advertising places a coupon for your auto repair shop on the back of cash register receipts given to customers at the local grocery store. This type of advertising works great to drive more customers into your shop. Whether they need your services right now or not, your ad reminds them that they need to take care of their car with a regular oil change or another type of maintenance. And, your coupon gives them incentive to choose your shop over another.
Aside from register tape coupons being a proven way to increase new customers, perhaps the greatest advantage of register tape coupon advertising is its low cost per impression. It’s typically no more than $6 to reach 1,000 customers in your immediate area. It’s hard to get this much visibility at that low of a price with any other type of advertising.
4. Social Media Advertising
Advertising on social media has its perks – it’s effective, it’s affordable, and it gives you a presence where people are spending time: on Facebook. This type of digital advertising can accomplish a few things:
- Build awareness so that you’re top-of-mind when there’s a need for auto repairs.
- Generate business from those who are ready to use your services. Giving them incentive in the ad gives them incentive to take action now.
You might first have a correctly set up Facebook Business page. And from there you can run ads that target people close to your auto shop. It’s a very targeted way to remind people about your services, special offerings and location. This can reach thousands of social media users with repeated impressions so that they’re more likely to remember your shop over another competitor.
5. Google Paid Search Ads
Pay Per Click ads using Google Ads can be used to put you at the top of the search results when someone is searching for a specific service you offer such as “transmission repair”. These ads can appear above all the search results or in the Google map results. And they appear on mobile devices (where many of these searches will be done) and on a desktop computer search. The target for these ads are the people in need of your services right now. Your phone number can even be included in the ad. It can be clicked and called directly from a mobile phone.
Because these are highly specific and geographically targeted, they can be more expensive per click than other types of online advertising. However you can track results to see how many calls and clicks came to your website as a result of the ad. This will help you determine if it’s providing a return on investment.
6. Direct Mail
While direct mail can work if you’re able to get the mailer to enough people, and your offer is good enough to make people take action. Because it can be a bit pricey to do a mailing it’s a little harder to get the repetition you need (and get from other types of advertising). You should be prepared to send out direct mail pieces multiple times for a better return and a higher level of awareness of your auto repair shop. Without a second or third mailing (or even more), your message may never been seen.
7. Auto Events
Being involved in the local automotive community is a great strategy for getting your name out there. Setting up a table at local auto shows and classic car events, or even hosting an event yourself, can be a great way to meet customers and hand out coupons. Keep in mind that attending or hosting events may take some financial investment on your part, so carefully calculate whether or not the effort will be worth it. Remember, your time is money, so the time you spend away from your shop is time that could be spent doing something else.
8. Referral Program
Your loyal customers can be your best advocates, and with referral programs, you provide incentive to take their advocacy to the next level. One of the best ways to get referrals, surprisingly enough, is to ask for them! Make sure you train your staff to ask customers to refer friends if they had a good experience. Be sure to thank the person who made the referral—either through an email or, when possible, an offer they can’t get anywhere else, such as a free oil change or a discounted service. Small gestures show your customers that you go the extra mile. In exchange, they’ll return the favor.
Here are a few advertising options for local auto repair shops that can be more expensive with less trackable results. While they can be effective, they’re not on the list of things we’d suggest you try first.
Billboards (both traditional and digital) have long been a staple of advertising for decades. With careful placement and good messaging, they can help increase the visibility of your location, especially if it’s located very close to your physical location. The downside, and it’s a big downside, is that billboards are usually an expense that can’t be proven effective.
Was the car you just repaired the result of the massive sign standing tall on the side of the highway or did the driver hear about you from one of several other ways? Even by asking, it can be hard for customers to recall that they saw you on a billboard.
2. Newspaper Ads
Newspapers were once the gold standard of local advertising for auto shops, but the digital age reduced readership while sending more ads online. As a result, the return on investment for print ads isn’t what it once was. Weekly newspapers and smaller publications may provide a less expensive option but, of course, will be seen by fewer eyes. Interestingly, newspaper ads have a similar challenge with social media marketing. Do readers really see your ad when they are reading about the latest news or are they simply skimming through to find local interest events?
3. TV & Radio
TV and radio provide Americans a lot of entertainment. But how we watch TV and listen to music is different than it used to be. Today, we have the ability to stream, pause and fast-forward. That means we often skip over ads. If that’s the case, is it really worth your time and money to produce and run a television or radio ad? If you have multiple locations across a larger viewing or listening area then it may make sense to run ads that represent the entire set of locations. But single locations or those with a few locations in a larger city, this may not be the best route.
Now you’ve got a good overview of the different types of auto repair shop advertising options for new business. It’s always good to use more than one of them for more reach and more customers. If you’d like help with getting a local auto repair shop marketing program in place, our team can help.
Finding the best ways to advertise in your local area is key to driving new customers to your shop. Learn more about some of the top auto shop marketing tactics and how to apply them to your auto shop.