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.
We’ve given you a lot to think about here, but all of what we have outlined starts with a budget and your ability to track where new customers arrive from. With this data you can make educated decisions about allocating your budget appropriately as it grows.
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.