6 tips To Grow Your Automotive Service Business

An Automotive Industry-Wide Problem

Pretty much any shop owner, mechanic and service advisor who has been in the business for many years knows the distrust customers have in the industry. Unfortunately, many people, especially women and younger drivers have a sense of fear with mechanics.

They worry they’ll be taken to the cleaners and ripped off. It sucks but shops have to get over this hump that some bad eggs have created. The stats back it up too as 55% of people surveyed now trust businesses less than they used to according to (Hubspot).

If they don’t worry about being overcharged, they worry about shoddy or unnecessary work being done on their vehicle. As many people don’t understand how vehicles work, it’s easy for shops to do a rushed or poor job and never get caught.

Once good mechanics, and more specifically shop owners realize the psychology of their customer base, the more likely it is for them to retain TONS of customers. When you retain more and more customers, you’ll get a customer base that is likely to spend more on service and come back to your shop when they need help with their vehicle.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of ways you can attract more customers to your shop, and how to build a loyal customer base that will actually help you grow.


1) The importance of Top Tier Customer Service

Did you know that on average Americans will spend up to 17% more on service with a company because they were happy with their service?On the other hand, 33% of Americans will never do business again with a company that had poor customer service. Half of Americans have straight up canceled a planned purchase because of poor service ( American Express).

As people have come to expect high-quality customer service, it’s now absolutely crucial shops go above and beyond for each and every customer that comes through the service bay.

It’s not just the automotive repair industry that benefits from loyal customers either. 61% of brand loyal customers go out of their way to buy from a specific business. The crazy part is that 50% of brand loyal customers actually end up buying more from their preferred stores (-Inmoment).

It’s for these reasons your shop absolutely needs to have a customer retention strategy in place to gain true, brand loyal customers.


2) Show your customers some love

To our surprise, a lot of businesses don’t know about the 80/20 rule. It’s the concept that 80% of a business’ sales come from 20% of the customers. These 20% of customers are your brand loyal customers that all business fight for.

Along with exceptional customer service, there’s another way you can convert more customers into brand loyal ones. A simple way of doing this is by thanking your customers for their business. A simple thank you really does go a long way in getting customers to remember you. It also shows your customer that you really appreciate them for trusting the shop.

We’ve also been seeing more and more shops putting together customer loyalty programs in place. They give customers a business card with 10 empty boxes on it that get filled with a stamp or signature. Say after 10 oil changes, the customer can get an oil change free or 50% off. Doing this is a great way to build a long lasting relationship with people. Many people who take part in these programs go out of there way to go to specific stores just for loyalty rewards.

When it comes down to it, it’s simple. Treat your customers with respect, and how you would want to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes and do everything you can for that person so they are really wowed by your work. 


3) Tech Is taking the industry by storm

The first thing you can do to give your customer an optimal visit to the shop? Toss the pen and paper away right now!  With digital vehicle inspections, technicians can actually take photos, and videos explaining clearly why repairs are needed.

No more will you have to be on the defensive, and have to deal with standoffish customers. When a customer gets this white glove service, and recommended service gets explained to them in a way they actually understand, it can do wonders for shop reputation.

We’ve actually had shops who use our software to get generations of the same family come into their shop for this service. People simply like getting clear explanations of service. As opposed to paper inspections, people just kind of had to take a shops word for it.

With digital vehicle inspections, the customer feels like they have all the tools needed to make an informed decision The tech-savvy shop can actually increase their average repair orders by 25% or more by implementing these modern inspections (-AutoServe1 Case Study). This is done through the novel idea of trust, and transparency in the automotive industry.  


4) Get Social

A lot of people check in on a business’ social media profiles before visiting the store in person. Take photos with happy customers, share photos of different cool cars you work on or post images of what it’s like at work on any given day. A great new tool gaining traction every day is “stories”.

Whether it be on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, its a fantastic way of informing your followers of what’s happening in your life, or if there is any news you want to share in a few seconds or less. It’s a fantastic way to humanize your brand as well as giving customers an inside look into your shop’s day.

Social media is also a great tool to address customers concerns, comments or respond to any questions they may have about your services. Engaging with customers where they are online really helps build your brand awareness, and recognition online. You can follow certain hashtags on various social platforms and comment on other people’s posts providing your industry expertise on trending topics.

Many shops even hold contests for their customers on social media.  An effective social promo you could do is posting an image of your shop that asks customers to like, share and tag a friend in the post to be entered in a draw. Note the prize doesn’t have to be anything special, it could be as simple as a $50 gift card to your store.

As you can tag a business on social media, its a great way for shops to gain free exposure from customers too. They can take photos of their car at your shop and tag it on Facebook, or any other social media, letting others know that real people trust your business. If you don’t have a social presence, you’re missing out on free exposure! 

Snapchat Filters

If you’re really feeling ambitious you can create a custom Snapchat geo filter for your shop! Snap filters are essentially logos you can add to photos users send to their friends. It lets a user’s followers know where they are and what they’re up to in a creative way.

This is an extremely creative social strategy that helps spread your brand among your customer’s inner circle. Millennials are extremely active on social media and essentially post everything they do online. Waiting in your waiting room is no exception!

Picture it now. They’ve got an hour to kill until their vehicle is ready. They’re chilling in your nice waiting room, relaxing with a coffee in hand and browsing Snapchat. They figure they’d let their followers know what they’re up to and post a photo of themselves in your waiting room.

They then scroll onto the fun filter options available to them and notice your cool shop has one, so they post their photo to their story for all their followers to see thus exposing your brand to countless people-free.

5) Newsletters & Content Creation

Another way to keep your customers engaged is by offering them true value, for no cost. You can do this by starting a monthly email newsletter! Nobody wants boring marketing emails filled with “THE LATEST, GREATEST SPECIAL OFFER”.

Get creative with it!  Fill it with helpful tips for car care, blogs, videos, etc. For example, you can write a blog about “how to plan the perfect summer road trip” and include it in your newsletter. Creating content and sending it out to your customer list, free of charge really positions your shop as a thought leader. When you become a thought leader, you become a go-to source of information about your industry. 

Keeping your past customers engaged with you through email newsletter is a great way to keep your brand top of mind. When you remain top of mind and offer customers unique industry insight and value to their everyday lives that they actually get value from reading will get your shop more referrals and appointment requests.


6) Word of mouth advertising

Most people find their go-to auto repair shop through word of mouth advertising. As it’s the most effective form of advertising, its key for shops to have a great strategy in place for this.  We found through some digging that 75% of brand loyal customers recommend their favorite businesses to their friends and family without being asked (-InMoment).

Its a great little insight into how people share their experiences. People love helping those they care about find quality services. These recommendations are very effective as well. In fact, according to Hubspot, over 81% of people trust a recommendation made by a friend or family member (-Hubspot research).  

If you’re giving your customer fantastic value you can almost expect them to essentially advertise your shop for you. Nothing is better than free stuff in life, right? Well, your customers can advertise for you, for FREE if you treat them right.

People love telling others about good things that happen to them, but they may not be bothered to leave an online review. On the other hand, if they had a BAD experience at your shop you can almost expect a poor online review.

One amazing way to do this is by offering customers who leave a positive review online a special on their next oil change. You don’t have to do anything ridiculous, even a 15% off coupon that covers the tax is enough. We also encourage shops to set up referral programs. Get customers to promote your business for you by offering them a $10 store gift card for each referral they send your way.