Signpost Local Marketing Blog

Category: Automobiles

Car Wash and Auto Detailers: Increase Repeat Business With These Loyalty Programs

September is Automotive Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your auto service and driving more new and repeat business. 

Not an auto professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!


more customers for auto service

Loyalty programs have existed for decades, without much change or evolution. However, in recent years consumers’ expectations have shifted as an influx of different businesses compete for their attention and repeat business. It takes more than the lure of a discount to win over your customers and keep them engaged in your loyalty program. It’s now all about creating an exclusive experience that goes beyond traditional punchcards. Luckily, there are lots of opportunities available to car wash and auto detailing businesses who are looking to stand out from the crowd.

The steps below will show you how your auto detailing business can create a comprehensive loyalty strategy. Make sure to devote time and resources to its implementation and maintenance, as there is always room to refine and improve. Remember that your customers are your best source of direct feedback, so keep a dialogue going and keep an open mind to suggestions to ensure they keep coming back!

Structure and Rewards

First, it’s essential to carve out the framework for your new program (or newly improved!). There are a few different options of loyalty programs you can choose from, including points, tiers or “clubs” systems. Each have their merits, and you can always combine a few aspects to create a hybrid program that will provide the most value to customers. There’s also plenty of room to customize within each of these approaches, and tailor it to your audience.

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Auto Glass Businesses: Ensure Customers Find You When They Need You With A Fortified Online Presence

September is Automotive Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your auto service and driving more new and repeat business. 

Not an auto professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!


more customers for auto service

The automobile glass industry has come a long way since  the first laminated windshields were assembled in the 1920’s. The problem is that most of your customers aren’t looking for your solution until they have an accident, or an unfortunate meeting with a rogue rock on the highway. It’s a reactionary business, and (sadly) usually seen as an inconvenience. Something that’s necessary to get them back on the road, and on with their lives. So, how are your marketing efforts best spent in such a specific scenario? You don’t want to waste them on customers who aren’t receptive (those with a healthy, in-tact windshields or sidelites, for example). Where should you start?

To stay competitive and ensure that these customers find you when the need arises, you need to invest in your business’s online presence. In 2016, this is the first stop on any buyer’s journey. They might have a vague, subconscious remembrance of the catch SafeLight jingle, but chances are they’re turning to Google, or other search engines, to find out what their local options are. This search is followed by a reputation check on various online reviews sites, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, among others. Read on, we’ll be reviewing the key components to setting up your auto glass business for success.

Get started off on the right foot: Invest in a professional website

For most of your future customers, your website will be the first impression they get of your business, so it’s important that it sets the right tone. There are a variety of website creation tools and platforms, such as Weebly, which even has a free offering that you can use to make a current and sleek site. Many auto glass professionals didn’t get into this line of work because their love of building websites though, and that’s ok. If you fall into that category, then there are plenty of professionals who you can enlist to help you in this task. Either way, be sure that you are involved in this process and that the new site being built is:

  • Accurate
  • Up-to-date
  • Easy to navigate and understand
  • Conveys all the information they might need: Hours, Services, Pricing, Phone Number, Address, Email
  • Fast load times on desktop and mobile
  • Responsive (layout looks good and is easy to access from both desktop computers and various mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets)
  • Reassure customers’ doubts and reinforce your professionalism (through testimonials)

And that the look and feel is:

  • Professional
  • Modern
  • Intuitive
  • Representative of your business and expertise

Think of your new site as a home base for all your customer acquisition and engagement efforts. Everything you do, should be either driving potential customers back to your site, or at least leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to help them quickly be able to access the information when they need it, or are ready to transact. It’s especially important to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices, with fast load times and responsive rendering and doesn’t look weird when viewing on a smartphone or tablet (for example, ensure isn’t super zoomed-in on just your header, or require lots of scrolling and links that are hard to find). With 53% of all mobile searches having local intent, it’s important that you provide a good user experience, if you expect them to convert.

Set yourself up for success by collecting contact information

If you don’t already do this, you should make it a priority, moving forward. Contact information, whether email address or cell phone number, or even address is an opportunity to keep the conversation going, keep your business on their mind and ultimately increase the odds that they’ll eventually become a customer. Email marketing has been proven to yield 4300% return on investment, so the sooner you can start collecting addresses, the more impact it will have on your bottom line.

windshieldIt’s much easier to manage this process, digitally. Hand-written signup lists, while better than none at all, leave a lot of room for error, and rely on time-consuming, manual data entry. It might make sense to invest in CRM (customer relationship management) software that helps you keep all this data organized and easily accessible. As a reminder, Signpost’s Mia does this automatically for you, by keeping a perfect customer record for anyone who calls, emails or transacts at your business

The easiest way to do this on your website, is to add forms wherever possible. Whether asking them to subscribe to your email list for promotions and special offers, a blog for industry insights, or a free estimate, be sure to add a few different opportunities and “hooks” to prompt more of your audience to fork over their contact info. You can test different approaches, and see which performs the best in terms of completed form submissions. Being diligent in your customer data collection, moving forward, will amplify your marketing efforts, and drive more conversions.

Content and Directories

Now that you have set up a professional website, it’s time to start directing more traffic back to it. For organic (read: unpaid) traffic, this is done primarily through inclusion in directories, SEO strategy, social media, and review sites. All of this is done in order to give your business exposure to new audiences that have the potential to become paying customers at some point.

The more links back to your page, the more likely your site will appear in one of the coveted top spots, or ranks on search engine results pages. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If  you were looking for a good chiropractor in your area, you might ask around and see if any family members or friends had a good recommendation. But, at the same time you’d probably start researching your own by searching on Google, Yahoo or Bing. Your potential customers are following a similar process to find the best auto glass experts.

Sharing your expertise through content, such as a company blog or FAQ, can be a great way to establish  your reputation as a knowledgable industry vet, as well as help with discoverability. Sharing tips for maintenance, preventing windshield cracks and damage, or safety precautions people should take following a crack, and more can help provide value to consumers who might need your services.

Similarly, potential customers who are conducting research might come across directories for businesses in the area, so you want to make sure that yours is one of them, and that it has as much info as possible, to convince them to call or come in. Here is a list of free directories to get you started.

Online Review Sites

The final step is to claim and create robust profiles on popular review sites, such as Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, and Angie’s List. These not only help with SEO efforts (especially when it comes to Google My Business), but more and more consumers are beginning their research on these sites. It’s important that you have reviews that are positive, plentiful and recent. This shows that the great experiences customers are reporting are not just flukes, but your usual dedication to delivering quality results.

Today, a majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as friends and family when looking for a recommendation. It’s unsurprising then, that online reviews have a tangible effect on your bottom line. Additionally, Yelp claims that just by claiming a free business profile on their site, owners can expect to see an additionally $7,000 in annual revenue.

Make it as easy as possible for current customers to leave a positive review by using buttons or links from your website to your specific profile on a few of the sites that matter most (remember, Yelp and Google My Business should most likely be top two!). You can also include in your email signature, to subtly remind whomever you’re corresponding with to leave you a review. You can also put signage in your garage or office.

Once you have profiles on these sites, you’ll have to be diligent with your online reputation management strategy. You should respond to any critical reviews and attempt to find a resolution. This can not only help to win back a customer that you might have lost otherwise, but will also prove to potential clients that you value customer satisfaction, and are committed to finding a solution.

Whether you’re just getting started with online reputation management, or already have a plan in place, we’ve distilled some of our best practices in this short video presentation

Online Reputation Management


So there you have it! If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a powerful online presence that will help you get the attention of customers when the time is right. Be sure to allot time for maintenance and upkeep, as with anything else, this is an ongoing endeavor, and some extra time and resources can help sustain and continue to grow your customer base. Now that you’ve have a quality presence, you can start focusing on a communications plan. Check out some of our other resources to discover how you can start building better email marketing campaigns!

 

Getting More Referrals For Your Auto Repair Shop

September is Automotive Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your auto service and driving more new and repeat business. 

Not an auto professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!


more customers for auto service

Like an engine that requires clean oil to keep the entire car running smoothly, your auto shop needs to be actively working to generate more customers in order to keep your business healthy. One of the most effective ways to secure more new customers is to leverage your existing base. Depending on how long your shop has been a part of the community, you might have some customers who have been coming to you for years and with whom you have a good rapport. Each of these individuals —and others — can help ensure you enjoy a steady stream of new clients that will keep coming back. Referrals comprise 60% of all new business, on average, so try out some of these steps and keep growing your business!

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Promotion Guide For Your Automotive Service Business

September is Automotive Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your auto service and driving more new and repeat business. 

Not an auto professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!


more customers for auto service

September is here, and as we say goodbye to summer, we start celebrating the businesses that may have helped fuel our summer roadtrips: automotive services! These businesses help consumers get wherever we’re going and keep us mobile! However, even though so many of these services are often viewed as additional, purely maintenance, or reactionary, it’s vital you stay on top of your marketing and promotion efforts so that you can continue to attract a steady stream of new and repeat business. Auto services are not often on the top of consumers’ minds, so it’s important you keep them engaged, so we put together this easy list that combines some of our favorite tried-and-true promotional tactics with current marketing best practices for an unstoppable, and comprehensive plan of attack!

Your promotion efforts start with your website

Your website should be the hub for all your marketing efforts, both on and offline.

Your site should:

  • Be professional and up-to-date
  • Make a good first impression: Provide a initial introduction to your business
  • Include complete contact information: Including address, phone number, email address, directions, business hours, pricing
  • Offer functionality to make an appointment online. This leads to:
    • 40% more appointments
    • As much as 75% time save on managing appointments
    • An 80% reduction in no-shows, and the elimination of double-bookings.
  • Have forms to optimize the collection of contact information
  • Proudly display testimonials from happy customers
  • Provide links to your business profile across social channels and review sites

Show off your areas of expertise

Once you’ve invested in a professional website, you should develop a strategy to drive more potential customers to it.

One of the best ways to do this is through content creation. Share your expertise on both themes specific to your business’s specializations, as well as universal topics that all consumers are familiar with, such as traffic, commuting, safety and traveling. For example, you could post a blog about the best ways to beat traffic on holiday weekends, which can recommend the best time to depart, come home, routes to popular weekend getaways, or alternatives, and more.

Similarly, you could write a byline or routinely contribute to local magazines and periodicals with practical auto advice, which can help you position yourself as a community leader and authority on the subject. Creating short how-to videos are also a great way to boost exposure to new audiences in search of a solution to a pain point or issue your business can solve.

Determine what specializations or approaches differentiate your business from others, and be sure to advertise that everywhere you promote your business. From your site and social pages, to flyers, posters, online directory listings, reviews sites, business cards, and more. Don’t forget to recruit your work vehicles to help with advertising. Put your business name, logo, phone number and website, along with a tagline that states your specialization on your work trucks, cars, vans, tow truck, etc.

Invest in your community, and they’ll invest in you

Get involved in your community. Join local groups and organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, as well as any local trade organizations that have a presence in your area. Consider paying to become a partner of any group that commands influence, or is part of your consumers’ usual research. The more entrenched in the community you become, the more local customers will find out about you and your services, and want to give you their business. Try sponsoring little league, or donate gift certificates to charity events and fundraisers. Always be on the look out for ways to lend a helping hand.

And don’t forget to seek out potential partners in various places. Speak at schools and universities in the area and volunteer your time to teach a workshop, whether in driver’s ed classes, universities, local libraries, and more.  Encourage them to come to you with any specific questions afterward, and hand out special “Student Discount” coupons. Direct them to your website and social pages for more tips and videos to help them troubleshoot issues, or perform routine maintenance.

But don’t stop there, try to work in some networking with the different vendors you use. If you visit them in person, ask if you can hang a flyer on their bulletin board, leave a stack of business cards, or become a trusted partner/member of their directory for customers. Do the same with complementary businesses, including dealerships, auto supplies stores, car washes, and more. Develop relationships with local realtors and real estate brokerages, and offer their clients a special rate or “welcome to the neighborhood” discount.

Finally, partner with insurance companies. It can seem like you’ll be jumping through a bunch of unnecessary hoops, but when you become a preferred partner, people treat that as good as “pre-vetted” and do less research. Your business will gain an inherent trust with more customers. Some do not stray outside of the recommendations of insurance, since they’re worried about being held accountable for the bill, so it may be worth investing the time and effort to make this happen.

Promotion: Social, Email and SMS Marketing Campaigns

The first rule when it comes to approaching your social media strategy should be: don’t bite off more than you can chew. Only invest in building out pages that you can commit to maintaining regularly. So often business owners are pressured to be on every possible network, and later struggle to keep content fresh and updated. Each channel is slightly different, and should have it’s own unique approach. It is so much better to select the platforms that make the most sense to your business and focus your full effort and attention on only those.

For auto services, it might make the most sense to start your own YouTube Channel to share tips on how to perform routine checks and tasks and repairs. Create short how-to’s on platforms like Instagram, where there is a great built-in community of car enthusiasts. Appeal to underserved demographics in the industry (like women and younger drivers!) who may regularly feel alienated by your competition.

People respond to stories, so brainstorm ways to tell them by starting a series. If you’re a dealership, a performance shop or detailer, then you can start profiling newly-licensed drivers and their first cars! Jump on the bandwagon for social trends by showing off you and your employees first cars, and using the appropriate hashtag (#tbt #fbf). And encourage other customers to share photos of first or favorite cars. Finally, while you’re tapping your creativity, try to come up with some good ideas for contests. These can be a great way to increase awareness in your business, get you a larger following that you can continue to market to after the contest has ended (try to also collect emails!), until the time is right for them to convert into a paying customer.

Make sure your site is set up to collect customer contact information. Make it as easy as possible for customers to join your email and SMS lists with forms online and instructions in-store. You can check out this post for more surefire ways to grow your email lists. Email marketing has a proven return on investment of 4300%, and SMS marketing can yield up to 8 times more engagement, so implementing a consistent communications strategy can work wonders for keeping your business on your customers’ mind and generating more revenue.

Don’t just provide quality service — Go the extra yard

Of course delivering quality is the first priority for any customer-facing business. However, going above and beyond is always a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd and turn customers into advocates. Whether you offer free pick ups and drop offs for customers having their vehicles serviced, or extra amenities in your waiting area, think of small things you can do to provide more convenience and comfort to your customers.

You can return their car with a free, branded gift, such as a license plate cover, air freshener, bobble head, dice, stickers, floor mats, or more. This not only helps you spread awareness of your business, but is also practical and ensures they’ll have your name and number with them if they should get into a fender bender or break down.  It might even fan the word-of-mouth flame with passengers in their vehicle, who might notice and ask about their experience.

Perform safety checks, and complimentary inspections even if you’re not a state-sanctioned “inspection station”, so they will know if there’s any issue that will need to be addressed in the coming weeks or months. This will help them prepare and get things on their radar long before they’re rushing to renew. When you’re looking out for them, they’ll take notice.

Lots of people offer free estimates on their sites, so try position the offer as a free consultation, where you educate them on issue and preventative measures. This may prove especially successful in underserved groups, as long as you keep your tone friendly, helpful and not condescending. Nothing wins over loyalty like transparency and proactive outreach and assistance of an expert.


Be sure to check back next week, or join our email list to continue to hone your auto marketing skills!

Infographic: Online Reviews and Revenue Potential

When it comes to your business, it’s hard not to get caught up in the drama of online reviews. And for good reason; each glowing, five-star review that comes in can be the closest thing to an acknowledgement of a job well done for business owners. Similarly, the sting that comes with a critical review, is not one that’s easily forgotten. Beyond the hurt feelings and pats on the back, have you ever wondered what the actual, tangible impact that such reviews (for better and worse) have on your bottom line?

We’ve put together some data from our recent, local business survey, along with others, to create this snapshot of the effect online reviews can have:

the value of online reviews


Sources

http://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/12-statistics-on-consumer-reviews.htmlhttps://www.vendasta.com/blog/50-stats-you-need-to-know-about-online-reviews/http://www.marketingcharts.com/traditional/consumers-more-likely-to-share-bad-experiences-but-companies-can-recover-41037/http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-yelp-factor-are-consumer-reviews-good-for-businesshttp://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hotel_guests_read_6_12_reviews_before_booking_says_tripadvisor_survey

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