Do you run a car repair business and you want to boost sales or expand it? If YES, here are 21 smart tips on how to grow your auto repair shop successfully.
It is a fact that some auto repair shops keep seeing floods of vehicles coming in for service, yet they don’t see profitability, all because of inefficient processes. In other cases, there might be excellent services and processes in place, but they might not have enough customers. A perfect balance between all the areas of this business is essential for success.
To find this middle point of success in your auto repair business, you have to learn how to run this business efficiently. We have provided you a few points that can help you on your way to keeping the cars coming in and the finances also staying in.
21 Smart Tips on How to Run and Grow an Auto Repair Business
- Develop a unique brand
One way you can grow your auto repair business is to have a unique brand in this industry that has a lot of competitors. There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ brand. There’s only what works for you, and what doesn’t work. One of the best ways to stand apart from the competition is actually to get inspired by your competition.
We don’t advocate that you should copy your competitors, but you need to look to them for inspiration in certain aspects. Just take what suits you from the whole and leave the rest, but make sure that what you come up with finally works well for your business.
2. Specialize in unique areas
Specialization is another key that can help you grow your auto business. People would more likely come to you if you only handle certain vehicle brands, or you specialize in fixing some parts of the car. You will get more trust, and more customers that way.
You also have to specialize in a certain area to set yourself apart from other auto repair shops in your community. So pick a specialization and run with it. This will set you apart from the competition and provide your business with authoritative expert status.
3. Always Solve Your Customer’s Problems
This is a quick and easy one that is often overlooked. When customers bring their cars to your shop for repairs, they are faced with certain problems that may include how to get transportation to the next appointment, where to rest and wait for the car to get ready, cost of towing, etc. To help out, you can;
- Offer either a shuttle service or a rebate for an Uber/Lyft service. This can allow the customer attend to other urgent needs while the car is being fixed.
- Offer Free Towing with service.
- Have coffee at hand for the long wait, and make sure your coffee is of good quality. You would be surprised that customers would rate your service based on the condition of your coffee.
- Have a neat and comfortable waiting area and bathroom. If you wouldn’t ask your mother to use your bathroom, it’s probably not suitable for your customers either. Clean it!
- Offer free wifi. Of course, your customers would so appreciate this as it would make the wait less boring.
4. Keep alert of your labor costs
So many businesses fail because of inefficient labor management. They employ a lot of workers and end up paying salaries with the work not being commensurate with the pay. Choose your staff carefully, and make sure they are well-trained before they start to work. One good staff member is worth two bad ones. Don’t be tempted to recruit novices to your team only because they are ready to work for less money. This can spell doom for you.
5. Reduce Your Employee Turnover Rate
Establishing reliability and consistency is extremely important when running an auto repair shop. This is hard to accomplish when you have a high turn over rate of employees which can lead to inexperienced new workers who need to be guided into better mechanics which can take time.
Reduce your employee turnover rate by treating your employees well, giving good benefits and paying them well. This will also make your customers more comfortable working with you when they see the same mechanics each time they come in for auto work. It’s hard to trust an auto shop when they have a different mechanic working on their vehicle every single time they come in.
6. Automation would take you a long way
In the auto repair business, you should learn how to automate your day to day processes so as to improve speed, efficiency, and profitability for your business. Use auto repair related tools and software that will best suit your business. This will give you more time to improve your business in other ways.
7. Become a female-friendly auto repair shop
The auto-repair industry is male-dominant, and female customers are sometimes reluctant to take their vehicles for service in those macho environments. You can show that your team is trained to communicate repair issues in layman’s terms. Set coffee tables with magazines and play area for kids on the waiting lounge to make your female customers comfortable.
8. Provide a guarantee
Providing a guarantee for the job you did is a huge way of building trust with your clients. Guarantees also mean that you are confident in your skills. This can be as easy as assuring the customer that his or her car is as good as new, or that the repair or parts change can last them a certain length of time.
You can even take it up a notch by telling them that they’ll either get a free repair or refund if the car breaks down before the said period. If you repair someone’s brakes for instance, this will show them you are not doing a shoddy job, causing them to come back in a few months to have the work done again. Give them a reason to trust your work and make them more likely to come back to you in the future.
9. Have An Ethics Statement & Display It Prominently
Given the unease that many people have when working with an auto mechanic, create an ethics statement describing your stand on honest, trustworthy work. State that you provide reliable services and are not trying to scam anyone.
Explain that you will only provide necessary repairs and service and will not try to charge them for services that they don’t need. Once you’ve created the ethics statement, display it in a prominent place in the guest waiting room where anyone can see it.
10. Always Reward Your Loyal Customers
Everyone loves a freebie every now and again. Make your regulars feel appreciated by rewarding them for being loyal customers. Send them coupons for discounted work or give them a free oil change from time to time.
There may be some upfront losses in revenue but will end up paying out in the long run as you start to build up a client base who will only come to you for auto repairs and refuse to go anywhere else. On top of that, those customers are also more likely to refer you to their friends and family.
11. Make Use of An Automotive Appointment Scheduling Software
Having a running vehicle has been a necessity for most people and the last thing anyone needs is to be without a car for several days due to missed appointments or overbooking. Bu utilizing an automotive service scheduling software program, you will reduce missed appointments and overbookings while also saving yourself valuable time and creating a more consistent and reliable service.
12. Be appreciative of your customers
It’s a simple idea, but a thank you does go a long way. Remember, your focus is on making sure your existing customers tell their friends about you. The more you make every experience they have with you memorable, the more comfortable they’ll feel recommending you to their personal networks.
If you’re wondering how you can thank your customers, there are plenty of thank you gift ideas you can get online, and the good thing is that these tokens are actually cheap and affordable.
13. Be a Social Bird
The social media was provided for the reason of communication and you can use these platforms to your advantage. You need to share information on your social networks that help and entertain your customers. It’s all about having a business presence online that people want to follow. Your Facebook business page needs to be filled with helpful, interesting and relevant content. This will brand you as an expert in what you do.
People often check in on Facebook when they visit a physical location. This gives your business more exposure as their friends will see your name mentioned. Visitors can tag your business in posts, too. When a friend asks for a tint shop recommendation on Facebook, friends can tag your business in comments. Businesses can get customers and not pay a dime.
14. Make Provisions for your Business to Get Reviewed
Some businesses owners are actually averse to reviews because they are scared of the bad comments. But you should know that whether positive or negative, when someone hops on Google, Yelp or Facebook to find out more information, even neutral reviews are better than no reviews at all.
Reviews on these sites are also great because they can indirectly act as a word-of-mouth referral. If you visit a dent doctor’s Facebook page and see two check-ins from personal friends, you’re more inclined to trust that business over one you’re not connected with at all.
15. Ask for Referrals
There’s no shame in actively growing your business through your existing network. Make it known to your customers when you see them that you’d greatly appreciate a referral. Make sure to have a business card to give them, but more importantly, make sure you have their contact information. If you’re sending them email newsletters regularly, they’ll be sure to always have your contact information, unlike a business card.
When you do get new customers referred to you, make sure you send a note to the person who made the referral. If you have the budget, consider sending a small Amazon gift card as a thank you. It gives your customers even more reason to keep referring businesses to you. As you continue to surprise and delight your loyal customers, they’ll return the favor.
16. Establish a presence online
We are in the Age of the Internet, there are no two ways about it. If you don’t have any sort of online presence, you’re doing your business an injustice. For many people, especially younger generations, if you can’t be found online you don’t really exist.
Put some time into establishing even the most basic website – it’ll get your name out and add to your business’s legitimacy. You can also use an online service such as Wix to design your website with an easy drag-and-drop user interface, or hire a professional web designer to do it for you.
17. Sharpen up on SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of improving your website’s ranking on search engine results lists. For example, when a potential customer searches for ‘affordable auto repair’ on Google, where does your website show up? Is it in the top five results? Top ten?
You might be wondering why SEO is important. Well, data shows that 70% of Google searches result in the ‘searcher’ clicking on a link on the first page. In other words, websites that rank higher are more likely to be clicked on. Take some time to learn all about improving your SEO practices.
18. Connect with local businesses
Small businesses have certain advantages over large corporations, and that includes having an easier time creating mutually beneficial relationships with other local businesses. For example, you can set up a deal where customers of your auto repair shop can get a discount at local restaurants, and those local restaurants can return the favor by advertising your business.
The other benefit is that you’ll be earning a good reputation with the local community. Take a look at the neighborhood, you may have opportunities to expand your network just around the corner.
19. Schedule future appointments
Don’t allow current customers to slip through the cracks tomorrow (or next month). When someone comes in for an oil change, schedule another one with them. If somebody comes in to recharge their air conditioning, make sure you give them a date to come back so you can take another look at it.
Remind your clients that automobile maintenance is an ongoing task and not something to leave until the last minute. At the end of the day, you’re not providing the service to just make money, but to also ensure your customers’ safety and peace of mind on the road.
20. Become well-known in the industry
Providing satisfactory service for customers is almost always the number one priority. But how can new customers get an accurate impression of your expertise before they put their vehicle in your hands? One way is for you to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry by providing educational content. That can be in the form of blog posts, podcasts, video tutorials, engaging in conversation on social media, and much more.
By staying up-to-date with current trends in auto repair, and also providing your own input or participating in discussions on industry topics, you can show customers that you’ve got knowledge and professionalism that they can and should rely on.
21. Have an alliance with insurance companies
Insurance companies are a great asset to auto repair businesses, so you will need to establish some kind of alliance with them. Make reasonable contact with insurance companies in your area so as to become their preferred auto-repair shop when a damaged vehicle comes for an insurance claim. This will be a good source of stable income.