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Advertising For Auto Repair Businesses In 2018 Part 3

The best advertising comes in the form of referrals, which are usually free but don’t happen overnight.
Advertising is perhaps the most confusing part of owning any business, not just an auto repair business. Advertising is, to take your marketing materials and broadcast them in mediums where you anticipate your target audience. The internet has drastically changed advertising as most understand it. We used to think of advertising as the “yellow pages” and newspapers. However today, as discussed in Part 2, the yellow pages comes in many different forms these days. All of which promise you the world and few of which will deliver.We recommend taking a broad approach to advertising to test what will draw in the most amount of new business to you. When thinking about how to advertise for your business, below are some suggestions to consider. First, establish a yearly/monthly budget, then to execute a plan. The most important part of your plan is to follow through on asking your new customers how they found you, that way you know what advertising is working.
Our advertising model assumes you have a few things in place, as we also discussed in Part 2: website with contact module, Google Business Page, and a Facebook Business Page.We are firm believers that Google’s vast grasp on search is what makes it the king of advertising for now. Most people start their searches on Google, and if you’re not on Google maps and your website hasn’t been crawled by Google… you may not exist. We can argue this until the cows come home, but the truth is they hold a grasp on nearly 80% of all search in the US. Picture 10 people searching for “auto repair in my town”, nearly 8 of them are using Google. It’s much easier and fruitful to advertise to 8 out of 10 than 2 out of 10.We are going to assume you have a $250 budget, the starter plan would be something like this:

Google Business Page – Free
Facebook Business Page – Free
Adwords Campaign through your Google Business Administration Page – Budget Dependent – $100 per month recommended
Local Paper Advertising – Prices Vary – Assuming $100 per month

This leaves you with $50 left over. Personally, we recommend a service called Yext, however we are unsure of their price these days as they have gone into a “Demo mode”. This means  they likely introduce you to the price after you’ve demo’d their product. For a one location auto repair business, we believe their estimated price may be over $600 a year, which kind of busts the budget a bit. But once you see how much time their platform can save you… you may reconsider.Yext does a few great things that stand out:

They broadcast your correct business information to well over 100 directory systems, including Google and Facebook.
They also allow you to make business updates from their platform and broadcast it to all the directories in the network.
They manage your inbound reviews from your customers on all those platforms and immediately inform you when you receive them.
They allow you to broadcast messages of specials you may want to promote.
They link your business website from 100 different directories, instantly giving your business credibility online.
The most underrated thing they do… is save you time from trying to log into 100 different directories and fix errors, omissions, and broadcast them all at the push of a button. Can you imagine the time it takes to create 100 different accounts and to regularly check and manage them? We did, so we tested Yext at our founder’s facility and have been a subscriber for well over 5 years now.Looking To Open Up An Auto Repair Facility?
We’ve all been there, tired and frustrated with our boss.  You get the feeling that you can absolutely do this better than they can… and you want to do this better than they do it.  So you start to dream about what it would be like if you ran your own auto facility. Funny thing about our dreams, they don’t account for the brick walls you’ll run into.  Lucky for you and your dreams, we account for quite a few of them in this article. 
We are going to lay out the challenges, that we are aware of, that ‘soon to be shop owners’ may face and need to consider.  Please note that our experience, is from a densely populated area, local laws might make it harder or easier to accomplish some or all of these tasks.  This is meant to be used as a guide on what to expect and the type of research to do when trying to open a shop in your local area.
Where It All Starts

Budget:  All of this costs money to start.  The less you plan for, the more expensive things get. You can save significant time and money finding an existing facility that is abandoned or is for sale already and has the equipment you need to get you started.
Patience:  Nothing happens at the speed of light these days, unless you’re using CAR on your mobile device.  A lot of time is spent waiting on the input or response of others. Pick a method to manage all of the tasks.  We outline how to build a team with your gmail account. You can also organize everything in your plan to open a business with Gmail using the same logic to track tasks, save documents and have mobile access to everything.
Research: You want to survive the first 5 years?  Get used to asking a ton of questions, to anyone who will help you or hear you out.  Ask questions about everything, and most importantly… ask yourself and do your own homework.

 
Questions to consider asking yourself, others, and/or Google:

How many shops are in a 4 mile radius?
What’s the population in the 3 surrounding towns, plus the one I’m in?
How many households?
How much money do I have for this investment into my future? The sub questions here are insane.  What’s my projected monthly expenses? How long can I survive after having setup the business?
Are there other people I can partner with in this endeavor?
Does this location have parking?
What’s the crime like in this area?
What’s the traffic like? Go there, morning, noon and night… get to know your potential new neighborhood before you sign on the dotted line.

Now that the easy stuff is out of the way.  Let’s dig in.
Today’s auto repair businesses need to worry about the following:
Advertising
Can be expensive and very confusing. The best method to start is to get your feet wet with small budgets that keep your name in front of your potential customers, constantly.
Can be expensive and very confusing. The best method to start is to get your feet wet with small budgets that keep your name in front of your potential customers, constantly.
Employee Advancement
Providing an environment where employees know they can grow with your business, whether financially or moving up within the organization, is the key to keeping and securing talent.
Providing an environment where employees know they can grow with your business, whether financially or moving up within the organization, is the key to keeping and securing talent.
Employee Engagement
Keeping your employees as interested in your success as you are is critical to the elements that keep people returning and employees from leaving.
Keeping your employees as interested in your success as you are is critical to the elements that keep people returning and employees from leaving.
Location
Securing a proper location and the authorization to conduct business there over the long term ensures survival.
Securing a proper location and the authorization to conduct business there over the long term ensures survival.
Marketing
This is the most complicated element in today’s world. It involves a mix of a strong web presence, good advertising ethics, social media profile, and following up with customers.
This is the most complicated element in today’s world. It involves a mix of a strong web presence, good advertising ethics, social media profile, and following up with customers.
Software
Without good software, it is difficult to run any business. Good software is and always has been subjective. Our experiences indicate that good software saves you time and builds trust with your customers. Most importantly, it should work for you and not against you.
Without good software, it is difficult to run any business. Good software is and always has been subjective. Our experiences indicate that good software saves you time and builds trust with your customers. Most importantly, it should work for you and not against you.
Tools
Without the proper tools, we just can’t work on today’s vehicles.
Without the proper tools, we just can’t work on today’s vehicles.
Training
Without the proper training, we put ourselves and our customers at high risk.
Without the proper training, we put ourselves and our customers at high risk.
Your Team

Let me start by saying, they are not your employees. Treat them as such and they will treat it as a job not a career. I can’t stress how important this aspect it.  The world is changing at an alarming rate and this industry is no exception right now.  If you want to ensure longevity you need to prepare to share the burden and some of the benefits, in order to attract employees that build a team.
A lot of people let their ego drive their initiative to do more.  Sometimes it can work out but more often than not, it burns people out and you’re left alone wondering why you can’t “find good help”.  As a business owner, I made the choice to involve our team members in all company decisions. This doesn’t mean they have the final say, this means they have a say.  When your team members have a say, they are more vested in everyone’s success.
In addition, we are going to make an assumption here.  We need to in order to provide a good example. We are going to assume that you, the person reading this article, have technician experience and you want to open a shop because you can and will do things better.  First, congrats. That feeling is amazing. Second, research till you question everything…. THEN, execute.
If you are the good technician, you are going to need at least ONE more team member to start.  That team member will inevitably become the shop manager if you can do this correctly. Here are the responsibilities that you are NOT aware of as a technician.

Who’s going to answer phones?
Who’s going to monitor your social media?
Who’s going to deal with happy and/or irate customers?
Who’s going to follow through on parts orders?
Who’s going to make estimates and get customer authorizations?
Who’s going to keep your paperwork in order so you can review it on weekends?

If you’re a technician and you’re serious about opening up a business in this industry in today’s world… the very first hire needs to be someone who is going to keep the business moving, according to your vision.  You can not focus on being great at repair and running a front office. You can try to do both for a while, but you will eventually burn yourself out. The amount of mental energy it takes for you to switch from one role to the next, is exhausting beyond measure.
Your team and your vision to build this team… is your greatest long term asset. Please note, this is not the definitive guide on how to open an auto repair business. This is merely a guide to get you to start thinking about the things you will need to worry about to run a successful business in nearly every industry… but especially the auto repair industry.Follow along with this 4 part series, where we pass on lessons about our experiences running a business in 2018. This is focused on the auto repair industry, but there is plenty here that can be applied forward to help other businesses get off the ground and noticed locally.  Even though the businesses may differ significantly, the challenges of getting noticed and operating efficiently are similar.

Part 1 – Challenges Of The Auto Repair Business In 2018 Part 1
Part 2 – Auto Repair Business Marketing Challenges In 2018 Part 2
Part 4 – Software For Your Auto Service Facility In 2018 Part 4
7 Basic Steps Of The Auto Repair ProcessSee you soon in part 4, auto repair software…