I need some advice from successful offliners RE: marketing an auto business

27 replies
I'll cut to the chase.

I have been teetering with a client lately that has the potential to be huge to me, but I am hitting a wall mentally when it comes to marketing this place.

The client is the father of a good friend, and I have worked with him in the past on other ventures. At the moment, there is no money to put into marketing because one of the partners was squeezed out of the business due to personal conflicts within the company, so now they are struggling to keep afloat, and drowning quickly. That being said, this business has serious potential, and I want to do what I can to bring their profits back into the black, in which case, I will set myself up to have a large spot at the table with this place.

So here is the deal.

The business is an automotive shop, which allows people to bring their vehicles in and perform the work on it themselves.

It has 14 bays (aka 14 automotive lifts), a parts counter, waiting room, bathrooms, full tool rental, ASE certified mechanics on-hand for advice, etc.

It is located just off of a very busy intersection in a very large city.

They have a website, they have branding, they have large banners on the building and one on the street, they have pamphlets/business cars/gift cards, and that is about it.

After working my way in the door, I now have full reign of the place. In other words, I have full discretion to make any changes I see fit to the business to help improve profits.

I guess my hang-up is the lack of money. I can do stuff here and there no problem, but it is hard to drive a HARD campaign without any money (can't invest in media buys, PPC, mailings, radio, TV, etc).

So I'm just looking to start a discussion here and hopefully brainstorm some awesome ideas that just may work, with the help of you guys

What I am currently working on:
The website, although created by a crappy website creation service, actually has quite a good design, and the material on it is good. I am going to take the HTML site and transfer it to a WP setup, to make my job easier in the future with blogs, etc.

I have been going to local car shows/meets and handing out pamphlets to the car guys there, and telling them what the place does and how it all works.

I have been posting ads on Craigslist

I have been making small changes at the shop itself, such as hanging more advertising, re-arranging things, trying to make the waiting room more comfortable, etc.

That is it thus far.

Any and all ideas are appreciated!

Thanks in advance
#advice #auto #business #marketing #offliners #successful
  • Profile picture of the author MaxReferrals
    Don't want to sound negative, but there IS money. I mean unless there are ZERO customers coming in, there IS cash flow there.

    Hell, the mark up they make on the parts they are buying each day is enough to get you what you need on a crude site re-hack, right?

    I understand their squeezing every penny, so here's one idea guerilla, but you'll have to continue to work your ass off like you're doing.

    Focus on their current customer list.

    1. Ask for their emails and load them into aweber. Bribe then with half-off their next oil-change, etc, however you gotta get it.

    2. For $50-$100, get a series of helpful car tips written and loaded (or write 'em yourself).

    3. Start dripping them, with offers in each PS - free nitro tire fill with next rotation, $50 off repairs over $300, etc.

    This ain't gonna happen overnight, but the good news it WILL happen and will be on autopilot.

    HIH


    PS -- Congrats for being a stand-up dude helping your 'bro's family out like that. Difficult sitch I'm sure.
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    • Profile picture of the author K2SMedia
      Originally Posted by MaxReferrals View Post

      Don't want to sound negative, but there IS money. I mean unless there are ZERO customers coming in, there IS cash flow there.

      Hell, the mark up they make on the parts they are buying each day is enough to get you what you need on a crude site re-hack, right?

      I understand their squeezing every penny, so here's one idea guerilla, but you'll have to continue to work your ass off like you're doing.

      Focus on their current customer list.

      1. Ask for their emails and load them into aweber. Bribe then with half-off their next oil-change, etc, however you gotta get it.

      2. For $50-$100, get a series of helpful car tips written and loaded (or write 'em yourself).

      3. Start dripping them, with offers in each PS - free nitro tire fill with next rotation, $50 off repairs over $300, etc.

      This ain't gonna happen overnight, but the good news it WILL happen and will be on autopilot.

      HIH


      PS -- Congrats for being a stand-up dude helping your 'bro's family out like that. Difficult sitch I'm sure.
      Damn, good idea... Thanks!

      The email capture thing, I've been working on. Their entire order taking system is in bad shape and very disorganized, so it's tough for me to get the data I need until I am done re-vamping that part of the business.

      But, existing customers who did leave their data (phone/address/email), I could hit with offers and tips. Maybe a little newsletter of 2-3 pages of summer car tips (we're in the 110 degree desert), plus a coupon for 25% off their next visit or something along those lines...

      That could get enough people back in the door to get some extra cash and give me what I need to at least get some other basics taken care of (their invoice system, for example) and a few other things.

      Aweber is definitely going on the list of things to do, as is, obviously, a way to capture information.

      In the end, I want to have an entire plan of attack written out, in stages, that I can use as a guide to pull this thing from the proverbial mud, clean it off, and showcase it
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  • Profile picture of the author Doran Peck
    If I had to venture a guess I'd say that the ratio of people who want to work on their car is a microfraction of the people who either can't do it or would rather someone else do it...that, after all is the norm.

    There is nothing wrong with their business model...but there is an already existing market of people who want things done for them....a huge one.

    Take 4 of those bays and convert them into a jiffy lube style express service. Oil changing is big business....quick fixes like lights etc.

    Can you work out a deal with any of the car dealers there to do some detailing or other services on cars?

    I know these ideas are kind of getting away from the main point of the business...just that...if it comes down to survival...get buinsess in there any way you can...it sounds like a decent sized facility that can handle lots of work.

    Are their many small time mechanics (working from their garage, or ratty shop) that could be invited to bring their tough jobs into your decked out shop to work on them? (paying rent/fees of course)

    DP
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  • Profile picture of the author Big Daddy
    All good suggestions. And of course there is a few $$ for something simple like 1,000 flyers and some leg work out to the most appropriate neighborhoods. The truth is, even though nobody likes their house to be flyered, the right offer will generate business EVERY time. Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author Chad Kimball
      do a google search for "adwords voucher" and setup an adwords account for th em using that. setup a hard sell squeeze page so you get them some good leads from the traffic with the free voucher. If they make profit on those leads it will be easier to convince them to dive into adwords

      Originally Posted by Big Daddy View Post

      All good suggestions. And of course there is a few $$ for something simple like 1,000 flyers and some leg work out to the most appropriate neighborhoods. The truth is, even though nobody likes their house to be flyered, the right offer will generate business EVERY time. Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Langeani
    I think Maxreferrals and Doranpeck both had very good ideas you should try and implement. Other than that, I would try some kind of alternative media, that would be more targeted and less dull than flyers.
    There are some new stuff going on around, and I guess it dependes on what country you live. Say, here in Brazil, everyone consumes bread, and, like 85% of the people buy them from a bakery. They are provided in paper bags. Now, this is being used as a media - a passive one. The media comes with a product you will bring to your place, so you WILL see what it is about - flyers tend to go straight to the trash.

    So, you could try to do something like that. I mean, giving free pizza boxes to pizzarias (with your branding on it), give free plastic bags to stores.. you get the idea.

    This is just a innovative idea to work on your media, to try to have a better ROI on media investments. I'd personally listen to those 2 guys and try to implement what they've said.

    Good luck and let us know the outcome of your work.
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    • Profile picture of the author RKCastillo
      1. If the business knows their Customer Avatar (The Age, Sex, Background, Likes, Dislikes, etc).

      I would find a few people that match that description that have worked on their cars in the shop and see if you could ask them a few questions on video.

      Use a Flip Camera, or any other hand held camera that shoots in HD.

      And ask them what it's like to work in the shop, why these choose to work there instead of have a shop do it for them, etc...

      2. Then I would have the business owner give some ideas of what a person could do in the shop on their own, how easy it is and how much money it would save them.

      Then take those videos and submit them to the video sites like YouTube or use Traffic Geyser or TubeMogul to blast them out to all of them.

      At the end of every video have a Call to Action or a Coupon or whatever.

      And then add those videos to the Website, or submit a Press Release about them.

      Just get some views on the videos
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  • Profile picture of the author Big Gee
    dude I had that same concept idea a few years ago ! so happy to see it exists because everyone said no one would want to do it. I wish you well and if you could send me the url IF you don't mind. I just wanna see what I couldve got myself into. So obviously I think the concept is a great idea. What made me want to open something llike this was the fact that I was living in an apartment and due to their restrictions I was not allowed to work on my vehicle in the lot. So i would suggest:

    partnering with apartment complexes management that have this same restriction and they can market for you to their entire complex (every time they flag someone or add a new tenant they can pass your info along,gladly and).....FREE.

    Also don't forget the motorcycles crowd they usually loves to work on their own bikes, give some video tips like someone else mentioned

    Offer a free car wash as a promo

    Any recreational vehicle that you can use in the desert/sand/dirt ...those guys like to work on their stuff too

    You have it right hitting up car shows, but I would also zero in even more on car clubs.

    I know when I work on my car I sometimes end up having to go to the store like 3 times if I'm not familiar with what I'm about to do and have to stop and research something if I run into a problem. It would save me time if I could work somewhere that had the tool (sometimes I don't have them all), parts and guidance.

    summary of niches to hit up that I know like to work on their own vehicles;
    vw, dirt and street bikes, lowriders, hot rodders, college (auto repair students) kids they probably live in apartments, auto repair trade school students (they may want to bring clients and use your shop to work on their clients cars...they can run their OWN business out of your shop) I would do that to start

    good luck man and please update me as I have a personal interest in the concept
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  • Profile picture of the author Davista
    Hi

    In this situation I would strongly focus on setting up endorsement deals, get somebody to recommend your service to his customers. I normally go first to the insurance guy, the accountant, suppliers and explain the situation be honest and explain you have a plan to make it better and you need their help, after all if he goes out of business they loose his business to. If the company is good and has good service in my experience few will refuse.

    You make them send an endorsement letter (that you write) to their customers, with a message like I wanted to thank you for being my customer and was looking for a way to show you my appreciation for your business, whit all the rippers in the automotive market I searched for the best service in town for your car ... If you bring this letter with you and show them them so they know I send you there and you will get the best service and personal attention plus a great discount. People love that.

    Especially the insurance agent is a winner here because he can use the security concept in this that he wants his clients to be safe and went in the market to find the best service for their car maintenance etc. in some cases I receive funds from the supplier to finance a marketing campaign. Make sure you can track the results of those campaigns like the endorsement above.

    Mostly in these kind of situations the endorsers tend to do it without financial incentive but you could give them a percentage on the sales that way you pay only for marketing after you made the money.


    Another winner I would do is make them pay upfront by offering a discount if they schedule their next service. You can structure it that they pay for one year service at half price if they pay upfront.

    Focusing on existing customers is what I would do first like mentioned by a fellow warrior earlier.

    Whatever you do from today make sure you collect details of the customers coming in and make a database with contact details, email, birthday, what they bought, when, average miles/year (so you know about when to remind them for their next service),notes section for extras like, tires need to be changed in 3 months. You will have much bigger chance they come back later when you send them a reminder for next service, and a thank you email same day the used your services.

    You can also endorse other services to your customers, if they have a old cars and you know they need a new one why not set up a deal with a good car garage, with the right follow up via email etc it very powerful and profitable. You can even rent out wall space in and outside the facilities to second hand car dealers or tuning companies...

    There are limitless variations of this depending on the situation so if you need some help I dont mind having a chat with you to have a more clear view. I like to help action takers.

    If you want I can give you a few examples of endorse letters from my clients, just shoot and we will get in touch asap.

    Also have an up sell, find something they need something to clean their windows or something and teach every body a phrase to up sell it. think Mcdonalds, do you want fries with that? What sauce? better oil, maybe if its a supper car, depends on the details of the business.

    Hope its clear my writing, I am a talker less a writer.

    Bye
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    • Profile picture of the author rugman
      Set up free car repair workshops - have a mechanic give a talk on certain topics. Word of mouth with the right crowd here for sure! As a guy that works on his own car (i also had this idea years ago) I would love this.
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      • Profile picture of the author rhinocl
        Groupon? That answer was apparently to short-silly computer thought it spam.
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        • Profile picture of the author UNOIT
          I think that those who have responded before me have made some good suggestions. However I think you need to be able to distinguish between marketing efforts that focus on existing customers (collecting their info and marketing to them again) and efforts that focus on gaining new customers.

          When referring to the latter it seems as though some of the things you mentioned signs etc. focus on a more "general" group of people (anyone passing the sign).

          You might want to try focusing in on a group of people who are more likely to need the service you are offering. For example where I live many people live in townhomes. The complexes do not allow people to work on their cars so the only alternative is to have the repairs done by a shop (which can be expensive) even if you are capable of making the repairs yourself. You could market to such a group and let them know that there is a place where they could do their own repairs and save money in the process.
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  • Profile picture of the author uncle randy 71
    You may want to approach all of the local part shops like AutoZone, NAPA parts, O'Reilly's etc. Ask them if you can put up some of your flyers in their stores. The majority of people going to a parts store fit the mold you described in the original post. They have some knowledge but lack a few specialty tools.

    You may want to talk to some of the smaller used car lots in the area and offer to do a inspection/clean-up/maintenance on all of their trade ins. You can charge for an oil change, tire rotation, transmission fluid change, new air filter and a wash job. That should easily be $100 or so per vehicle.

    Also, talk to some of the places that have a fleet of vehicles and offer to do a discounted maintenance schedule for all of their vehicles. Florists, bakeries, auto part shops, and taxi services all have multiple vehicles that need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis.
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    • Profile picture of the author K2SMedia
      Originally Posted by Doran Peck View Post

      If I had to venture a guess I'd say that the ratio of people who want to work on their car is a microfraction of the people who either can't do it or would rather someone else do it...that, after all is the norm.

      There is nothing wrong with their business model...but there is an already existing market of people who want things done for them....a huge one.

      Take 4 of those bays and convert them into a jiffy lube style express service. Oil changing is big business....quick fixes like lights etc.

      Can you work out a deal with any of the car dealers there to do some detailing or other services on cars?

      I know these ideas are kind of getting away from the main point of the business...just that...if it comes down to survival...get buinsess in there any way you can...it sounds like a decent sized facility that can handle lots of work.

      Are their many small time mechanics (working from their garage, or ratty shop) that could be invited to bring their tough jobs into your decked out shop to work on them? (paying rent/fees of course)

      DP
      Actually, the guy I am helping out runs an auto shop out of the place. He is a 30 year mechanic with his own business and a few mechanics working under him, and he originally got involved because he was leasing out some of the shop space for his own business. Now he is part of the main business as well, and that is what I am trying to help. So, there are mechanics there that offer all of the services you could think of.

      Also, we just got a dealer to take over a small un-used portion of the building for detailing and glass and paint, and that helps cover our expenses quite a lot.

      Originally Posted by Chad Kimball View Post

      do a google search for "adwords voucher" and setup an adwords account for th em using that. setup a hard sell squeeze page so you get them some good leads from the traffic with the free voucher. If they make profit on those leads it will be easier to convince them to dive into adwords
      This is a great idea, thank you.

      Originally Posted by RKCastillo View Post

      1. If the business knows their Customer Avatar (The Age, Sex, Background, Likes, Dislikes, etc).

      I would find a few people that match that description that have worked on their cars in the shop and see if you could ask them a few questions on video.

      Use a Flip Camera, or any other hand held camera that shoots in HD.

      And ask them what it's like to work in the shop, why these choose to work there instead of have a shop do it for them, etc...

      2. Then I would have the business owner give some ideas of what a person could do in the shop on their own, how easy it is and how much money it would save them.

      Then take those videos and submit them to the video sites like YouTube or use Traffic Geyser or TubeMogul to blast them out to all of them.

      At the end of every video have a Call to Action or a Coupon or whatever.

      And then add those videos to the Website, or submit a Press Release about them.

      Just get some views on the videos
      Videos like this are something I have been tossing around in my head for quite some time now, but you mentioning it just reinforces that I should go with it. I think doing videos that show laymen how simple some repairs can be would be helpful, with a call to action at the end.

      Originally Posted by Big Gee View Post

      dude I had that same concept idea a few years ago ! so happy to see it exists because everyone said no one would want to do it. I wish you well and if you could send me the url IF you don't mind. I just wanna see what I couldve got myself into. So obviously I think the concept is a great idea. What made me want to open something llike this was the fact that I was living in an apartment and due to their restrictions I was not allowed to work on my vehicle in the lot. So i would suggest:

      partnering with apartment complexes management that have this same restriction and they can market for you to their entire complex (every time they flag someone or add a new tenant they can pass your info along,gladly and).....FREE.

      Also don't forget the motorcycles crowd they usually loves to work on their own bikes, give some video tips like someone else mentioned

      Offer a free car wash as a promo

      Any recreational vehicle that you can use in the desert/sand/dirt ...those guys like to work on their stuff too

      You have it right hitting up car shows, but I would also zero in even more on car clubs.

      I know when I work on my car I sometimes end up having to go to the store like 3 times if I'm not familiar with what I'm about to do and have to stop and research something if I run into a problem. It would save me time if I could work somewhere that had the tool (sometimes I don't have them all), parts and guidance.

      summary of niches to hit up that I know like to work on their own vehicles;
      vw, dirt and street bikes, lowriders, hot rodders, college (auto repair students) kids they probably live in apartments, auto repair trade school students (they may want to bring clients and use your shop to work on their clients cars...they can run their OWN business out of your shop) I would do that to start

      good luck man and please update me as I have a personal interest in the concept
      Dude, love these ideas!!!

      The apartment complex/condo/HOA thing is brilliant! We have literally HUNDREDS of apartment complexes within a 10 minute drive of the shop in every direction.

      As for car clubs, I actually compiled a list of local clubs to market to, now I just need to figure out how I want to approach them and make it happen. I'm thinking some special events (small car show/food/etc) would be killer too.

      Offroad toys are something I didn't think about either, and here in Phoenix, they are EVERYWHERE.

      I will PM you to talk about the business itself


      Originally Posted by Davista View Post

      Hi

      In this situation I would strongly focus on setting up endorsement deals, get somebody to recommend your service to his customers. I normally go first to the insurance guy, the accountant, suppliers and explain the situation be honest and explain you have a plan to make it better and you need their help, after all if he goes out of business they loose his business to. If the company is good and has good service in my experience few will refuse.

      You make them send an endorsement letter (that you write) to their customers, with a message like I wanted to thank you for being my customer and was looking for a way to show you my appreciation for your business, whit all the rippers in the automotive market I searched for the best service in town for your car ... If you bring this letter with you and show them them so they know I send you there and you will get the best service and personal attention plus a great discount. People love that.

      Especially the insurance agent is a winner here because he can use the security concept in this that he wants his clients to be safe and went in the market to find the best service for their car maintenance etc. in some cases I receive funds from the supplier to finance a marketing campaign. Make sure you can track the results of those campaigns like the endorsement above.

      Mostly in these kind of situations the endorsers tend to do it without financial incentive but you could give them a percentage on the sales that way you pay only for marketing after you made the money.


      Another winner I would do is make them pay upfront by offering a discount if they schedule their next service. You can structure it that they pay for one year service at half price if they pay upfront.

      Focusing on existing customers is what I would do first like mentioned by a fellow warrior earlier.

      Whatever you do from today make sure you collect details of the customers coming in and make a database with contact details, email, birthday, what they bought, when, average miles/year (so you know about when to remind them for their next service),notes section for extras like, tires need to be changed in 3 months. You will have much bigger chance they come back later when you send them a reminder for next service, and a thank you email same day the used your services.

      You can also endorse other services to your customers, if they have a old cars and you know they need a new one why not set up a deal with a good car garage, with the right follow up via email etc it very powerful and profitable. You can even rent out wall space in and outside the facilities to second hand car dealers or tuning companies...

      There are limitless variations of this depending on the situation so if you need some help I dont mind having a chat with you to have a more clear view. I like to help action takers.

      If you want I can give you a few examples of endorse letters from my clients, just shoot and we will get in touch asap.

      Also have an up sell, find something they need something to clean their windows or something and teach every body a phrase to up sell it. think Mcdonalds, do you want fries with that? What sauce? better oil, maybe if its a supper car, depends on the details of the business.

      Hope its clear my writing, I am a talker less a writer.

      Bye
      Wow, another awesome idea. I appreciate it buddy!

      I'm not really sure what endorsements I could get, but I do know that he has a LOT of contacts in the automotive industry, so I bet if we sit down I could pull enough details out of him to figure something good out.

      I have also become good friends with the manager of commercial sales at one of our many parts supply sources, so I am going to see if I can get him to do some endorsements as well.

      The upsell is a great idea, as I know a detailer, a tinter, a welder, a paint and body expert, a glass company, a tire guy, and a mobile electronics (audio, video, security) guy, as well as a few tuning and aftermarket guys! I could not only upsell and take a cut for the shop, but we could promote eachother in the process.

      Originally Posted by rugman View Post

      Set up free car repair workshops - have a mechanic give a talk on certain topics. Word of mouth with the right crowd here for sure! As a guy that works on his own car (i also had this idea years ago) I would love this.
      He is a 30 year veteran mechanic with a resume the size of a phone book (certified in everything under the sun, hosted a car radio show, was head of a few things for Ford and then GM, etc etc) so he would be GREAT for this. I actually brought this idea up a few days ago, and I think it would be a killer idea. My reasoning to him was 'Home Depot does it all the time, and they aren't struggling. You can do it too ' so, I think this is something I will be working on setting up, and I think exposure for the workshops would be pretty easy, because they would be free.

      Originally Posted by rhinocl View Post

      Groupon? That answer was apparently to short-silly computer thought it spam.
      Been looking into this a little bit, but I've heard some horror stories about groupon deals. Then again, I've heard some good success stories as well, I'm just on the fence about it. If you have any experience running an offer with them, would you mind elaborating a little bit?

      Originally Posted by UNOIT View Post

      I think that those who have responded before me have made some good suggestions. However I think you need to be able to distinguish between marketing efforts that focus on existing customers (collecting their info and marketing to them again) and efforts that focus on gaining new customers.

      When referring to the latter it seems as though some of the things you mentioned signs etc. focus on a more "general" group of people (anyone passing the sign).

      You might want to try focusing in on a group of people who are more likely to need the service you are offering. For example where I live many people live in townhomes. The complexes do not allow people to work on their cars so the only alternative is to have the repairs done by a shop (which can be expensive) even if you are capable of making the repairs yourself. You could market to such a group and let them know that there is a place where they could do their own repairs and save money in the process.
      Another suggestion similar to the one above, and I completely love it. I am going to brainstorm on this in the morning and see what I can come up with. I really LOVE this idea.

      Originally Posted by uncle randy 71 View Post

      You may want to approach all of the local part shops like AutoZone, NAPA parts, O'Reilly's etc. Ask them if you can put up some of your flyers in their stores. The majority of people going to a parts store fit the mold you described in the original post. They have some knowledge but lack a few specialty tools.

      You may want to talk to some of the smaller used car lots in the area and offer to do a inspection/clean-up/maintenance on all of their trade ins. You can charge for an oil change, tire rotation, transmission fluid change, new air filter and a wash job. That should easily be $100 or so per vehicle.

      Also, talk to some of the places that have a fleet of vehicles and offer to do a discounted maintenance schedule for all of their vehicles. Florists, bakeries, auto part shops, and taxi services all have multiple vehicles that need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis.
      I have a manager at AutoZone (which is literally RIGHT across the street from us) that I am in talks with, and hopefully can get something worked out with. I want to make fliers and offer like 10% off (so they bring the flier and I can track) and set them up near the register.

      The fleet/business idea is a good one. There are a few smaller dealerships down the street from us, so I will go talk to them this week and see if they have something set up, and if not, I will try to work out a deal.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mary Wilhite
    The automotive industry is said to be one of the most lucrative and stable industries in the business world. Because people from all over the world use autos in their daily life, auto repair businesses are steady and secure. you could provide some give aways after a service,sometimes free air check up,free car wash.these will surely help.
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    • Profile picture of the author Chad Kimball
      demonstrate to the owners what their VALUE PER LEAD is. Will help convince them to pay for traffic.
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      • Profile picture of the author midasman09
        Banned
        Hogwash! All of the above! Excuse me but....I ben out in da field and I know "reality"!

        Ya gotta do something that MOTIVATES THE HECK OUT OF POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS!

        Now...what would that be?

        What I've done is print up 1000 Flyers with Coupons offering "4 FREE Oil Changes" over 12 months.

        I sold these Coupons for $20 each....going door-to-door in a residential neighbor hood near the Auto Repair Shop. I did this myself for the first 2 days...then hired 2 high school kids to go down one street and up the next.

        I paid them $5 for each one sold. They usually sold 20 a day....bringing in 40 x $20 = $800 gross....less 40 x $5 = $200 to them (one kid sold and average of 40 a day)

        Now....why would an auto repair shop be willing to offer Coupons for 4 FREE Oil Changes?

        1) There is ALWAYS something that can be adjusted, replaced or repaired so they charge for this and...believe me....they FIND stuff!
        2) This MOTIVATES THE HECK OUT OF consumers!
        3) These are EASY to sell...so YOU make money for YOUR Time! (The printing cost is less than $100)

        Every time I did this the shop was OVERWHELMED with business. The Shop's "cost" was 5 qts of oil and 20 min time and....they "averaged" over $100 from each customer.

        And....another thing to consider; Even though people paid $20 (EVERYONE has a 20 bill)....a good percentage did NOT use the coupons.

        Don Alm....Sales guy from WAAAY back
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        • Profile picture of the author Chad Kimball
          hey don which person's post above was hogwash? seemed there was a lot of great advice in this thread from everyone...
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          • Offer a give back program, loyal customers get better prices etc.

            After that is in place, calculate your LTV for each customer (the first tactic should raise it)

            Once you know your LTV, invest in marketing. Skimp on food before you skimp on marketing.

            Marketing: google places, seo, adwords, co-op marketing, offline media (newspaper). Test all these venues and try different ad copy. The trick with ad copy is out use something like Ad words to find the winning copy, then use it in everything (don't forget the billboards or pay a kid to hold a sign dressed up in an oil can costume.)

            It appears to me that when you raise your LTV, calculate it, suddenly marketing won't be an expense, it will be an investment.

            Never forget that time itself costs more than marketing. Here's why: time has a cap on it. You run out of hours. What usually happens with small business owners is they are stuck doing everything themselves. They hit the lid and then they become apathetic to their business.

            If this hasn't happened yet, it will until they start seeing marketing as an investment.

            Good luck.

            Christopher Dittemore

            Btw, I like Don's idea.
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            • Profile picture of the author rugman
              Just thought of another one - offer free check engine light code reading. Most of the time the problem is the same - O2 sensor or car needs a tune up. Most people don't have a O2 sensor wrench so they would just do it there and most don't have a code reader. i have every tool in the book but not these.
              Auto Zone does this with the code reader for free. That is where I go when mine light up.
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  • Profile picture of the author RentItNow
    Originally Posted by K2SMedia View Post

    At the moment, there is no money to put into marketing because one of the partners was squeezed out of the business due to personal conflicts within the company, so now they are struggling to keep afloat, and drowning quickly. That being said, this business has serious potential, and I want to do what I can to bring their profits back into the black, in which case, I will set myself up to have a large spot at the table with this place.
    Make sure you have a solid written agreement in place before doing anything. Been there, done that and found out the written business agreement I had was not in fact with one of the principals. The moment the business began being profitable, I was told the agreement was not going to be followed as written and if I wanted to stay, my percentage of all profits got turned to only commissions I brought in. Huge problem when I was the marketing person, not the salesperson. Not wishing it on you but be really careful with that...

    Saying that, I would go where the customers are. Have someone drive around town looking for old cars parked in the driveways and drop off a flyer. As far as online is concern, I'm sorry but PPC would be brilliant for this. Anytime someone searches for a common car problem, their ad would pop up. I bet it would be more profitable than you think. And if I remember right, google offers $100 or so in free credits to help you refine it for the big time. I did this with a truck parts place. Every time someone searched the name of the major parts manufacturers, their was my ads.

    Thought of something else. You can target apartment complexes because most do not allow people to work on cars in their lots.
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    I have no agenda but to help those in the same situation. This I feel will pay the bills.
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    • Profile picture of the author midasman09
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      Oooppps....I'm sorry Chad....didn't mean to "demean" anyone's ideas.

      I try to "keep things SIMPLE"! Auto Repair guys are BUSY....and don't have much time to listen to a "long or involved Spiel" about a "marketing" program.

      I made up a Sample Flyer (which showed 4 Coupons for 4 FREE Oil Changes over the next 12 mos) .....went in...found the owner....handed him my sample Flyer....told him I could bring him MANY new customers....AND....even though he'd be providing FREE Oil Changes (5 qts and 15 min time)....EACH one of his mechanics WOULD FIND SOMETHING THEY COULD CHARGE FOR THAT WOULD BE MORE THAN THE COST OF THE FREE OIL CHANGE!

      The program was totally FREE to the owner (I'd supply the Flyers) and... the Salespeople to sell the Coupons

      He either agreed or not! Wham Bam Thank Ya...Maam! 3 minutes of his "Time"!

      If he didn't want it...I'd find some shop that did.

      Don Alm....Sales Guy

      Ohhh....once in a while, the owner of the shop would say, "Wow! At 20bux a pop...YOU are makin' out pretty good! I'd respond with, "Yup! And if 500 people come in and spend an average of $100 on repairs....let's see now....WOW!....YOU get about 50 Grand in YOUR pockets
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  • Profile picture of the author TracyNeedham
    You've gotten some good ideas. But I wanted to urge you to consider RKCastillo's idea of talking to current customers, even if you get them to do it off camera. Find out why they are coming there instead of doing it at home...

    -- Are they lacking a few tools?
    -- Hoping to get help if they get stuck?
    -- Just like being able to hang with other guys doing the same thing?
    -- Wife complaining about parts strewn all over the garage?
    -- Living places (like someone said) where they're not allowed to work on cars? Besides apartments, condos and homeowners associations often have similar rules

    There may be some totally unexpected reason.

    And of course, ask how they heard about the place.

    You'll not only get ideas on where to be looking for more customers, you'll get the scoop on the right messages to use in the marketing so what you do put out is more effective.
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    • Profile picture of the author RentItNow
      Originally Posted by TracyNeedham View Post

      You've gotten some good ideas. But I wanted to urge you to consider RKCastillo's idea of talking to current customers, even if you get them to do it off camera. Find out why they are coming there instead of doing it at home...

      -- Are they lacking a few tools?
      -- Hoping to get help if they get stuck?
      -- Just like being able to hang with other guys doing the same thing?
      -- Wife complaining about parts strewn all over the garage?
      -- Living places (like someone said) where they're not allowed to work on cars? Besides apartments, condos and homeowners associations often have similar rules

      There may be some totally unexpected reason.

      And of course, ask how they heard about the place.

      You'll not only get ideas on where to be looking for more customers, you'll get the scoop on the right messages to use in the marketing so what you do put out is more effective.
      Very good advice, Tracy. Most businesses never ask their customers WHY they picked them in the first place and then strengthen that...even large corporations do not get this fact. Right out of the pages of Must-Have Customer by Robert Gordman (fantastic business book, btw).

      I would have been a customer for this for two reasons...help from a knowledgeable mechanic and special one-use tools. It does have potential in the right city. I happen to live in the automotive capital of canada and across from the auto capital of the US and I think it would fly here where others fail. The other business I know did well here and in Toronto was paint rental booths, paint your own car.

      Another thing is some mechanics may be able to make money on the side picking up work there. Can address that issue as well. The cross sells are endless. Maybe get some capital from dealerships putting up a few bucks if you promise to advertise their places at that location.
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  • Yeah midasman09, I'm with Chad, there are some great ideas pointed out there...from your moniker you may be a muffler guy? so you do have the creds, and some good points -

    but this is a DIY shop...the problem I would see is in the preparation before they work on their cars so you get volume? They probably don't want clients tying up the racks - which other than special tools, and the room to do the work, is the main reason folks would use this service...so prep assistance and a checklist for types of service, and a mechanic to wrangle the whole thing, but not do the work. Just offer advice.

    Frankly, I wish we had a business like this in MY area...
    and not just for a client - but (being a car buff) to use myself!
    In this economy DIY is a GREAT tool - I've heard of these type of shops
    It sounds like he has everything you need to get him business - maybe add a few fix-it tutorials videos -
    Really - in this economy this should fly...(maybe he should think "franchise" or is it already? )
    (btw:Is this the one in Tempe? or would it be competing?)
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  • Profile picture of the author MaxReferrals
    Hey man, any results from the ideas here? What have you implemented??
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  • Profile picture of the author DH5
    What a great group of people on these forums. The sharing is awesome.
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