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Auto Repair Business Marketing Challenges In 2018 Part 2

Twenty years ago, the local Yellow Pages drummed up business… the landscape has evolved to a plethora of “Yellow Pages”.

In part 1 of this article, we discussed the basics that every auto repair facility needs to thrive.  Among the list, we left marketing, advertising, and software for this article.  We felt they warranted a much more informative approach.  We thought we were going to be able to curtail this to a 2 part series, but I think we will need to break this down further to provide our readers with something they can actually use.  We start part 2 with marketing, as this is usually a job within itself that medium sized firms must hire or outsource someone for.  A smaller auto repair business might not be able to afford a marketing person and needs a plan in place to be noticed.The most effective definition of marketing is simply, “Marketing is the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product or service over your competitors. “.1 The only way to teach consumers why they should choose your product is by having a good website, an active social media presence, a good process for your customers (ie; good auto repair software like CAR), and an advertising channel that brings it all home. Advertising is covered in part 3.Having a good web team is a lot like finding a good mechanic, hard to come by and the best usually comes from referrals. But all of them are relative to price, much like the rest of the world. However, you don’t need a crazy expensive website to draw people in. Your website needs the basics. A legible, clean and clear main page that should highlight what your auto business is about. Things like your phone number(s), address, services, and customer testimonials (if you have any) are a great start. Refer to this template for starters. Don’t be daunted by all the things there, cut out all the noise.When you first start you need the basics! The basics all revolve around these questions:
Where am I located?
What is my phone number?
Do you want people to be able to email you from your website? (PS, it’s highly recommended that they can contact you. It’s a trust thing even though you won’t get many requests from there at first.)
What kind of vehicles do I want customers to know I work on or specialize in?
What services do I perform on those vehicles?
What are my hours of operation?
What social media profiles do I want to let people know I actively participate in? ( Personally, we only recommend starting with Facebook, Google Business and Yext.)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.
Website Options (Cost $ to $$$$):
You can create your own website yourself at Wix. While it’s a little harder to get yourself noticed through those platforms, it provides a medium that nearly anyone can use to create some simple websites to answer all of those questions at a very low price in comparison to a web developer. If you have more of a budget and are short on time, you can use services like Fiverr to put you together with entrepreneurs who build websites for lots of clients everyday.  We mention Fiverr because we were pleasantly surprised with how seamless it’s process is, there are other services that can be used.
You can create your own website yourself at Wix. While it’s a little harder to get yourself noticed through those platforms, it provides a medium that nearly anyone can use to create some simple websites to answer all of those questions at a very low price in comparison to a web developer. If you have more of a budget and are short on time, you can use services like Fiverr to put you together with entrepreneurs who build websites for lots of clients everyday.  We mention Fiverr because we were pleasantly surprised with how seamless it’s process is, there are other services that can be used.
Create A Facebook Business Page (Free):
Why is Facebook important? Because it’s presently how many people communicate, thus giving you access to that pool of people. With and without ads. All instructions for this are available at their website.
Why is Facebook important? Because it’s presently how many people communicate, thus giving you access to that pool of people. With and without ads. All instructions for this are available at their website.
Create a Google Business Page (Free):
Why is a Google Business Page important? Ever use Google to look something up or Google Maps to get around? So has like 80% of the world’s population. You NEED to be here, even with just a free page. All instructions are available at their website.
 In part 3, and 4 of this article, we will discuss the Advertising and Software on that list from Part 1. CAR has a unique process that markets on your behalf by making the customer central to the entire process at your facility.  But we know that this is merely a piece of the pie in today’s landscape.  So our focus within this article is to explore the other areas you need to be focused on.  With CAR as your auto repair software, your focus isn’t required to run a successful process… we already a decent portion of the heavy lifting for you.  You just need to subscribe. 
Why is a Google Business Page important? Ever use Google to look something up or Google Maps to get around? So has like 80% of the world’s population. You NEED to be here, even with just a free page. All instructions are available at their website.
 In part 3, and 4 of this article, we will discuss the Advertising and Software on that list from Part 1. CAR has a unique process that markets on your behalf by making the customer central to the entire process at your facility.  But we know that this is merely a piece of the pie in today’s landscape.  So our focus within this article is to explore the other areas you need to be focused on.  With CAR as your auto repair software, your focus isn’t required to run a successful process… we already a decent portion of the heavy lifting for you.  You just need to subscribe. 
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 3 – Advertising For Auto Repair Businesses In 2018 Part 3
Part 4 – Software For Your Auto Service Facility In 2018 Part 4
7 Basic Steps Of The Auto Repair Process