Nine Essential Tips You Don’t Want to Miss!
Marketing is one of the most essential business practices any shop owner can use to their advantage. Below you’ll find the top 9 most common Marketing mistakes, from a DRIVE Marketing expert and fellow shop owners. Follow the advice below, and you’ll start to see your profits grow.
1. Not leaving enough in your budget for Marketing
Marketing is an investment! As a shop owner, you have to put enough in to see a bountiful return. Marissa Ruiz, DRIVE’s Digital Marketing Manager, says that “your Marketing is an investment for a return.” It’s not a loss, but instead, a step toward increasing profit. Calculate your gross sales and from there determine what percentage is the correct amount to invest into your Marketing funds.
Kelsey Lancaster, co-owner of Performance Automotive Repair, says she’s investing more into Marketing every year! When asked what her biggest mistake in Marketing was, she replied: “Not spending enough! And still to this day, I don’t feel I spend enough on our Marketing efforts.” By divvying up enough of your profits and investing them into your Marketing strategy, you can start seeing returns in no time!
2. Not exploring every advertising avenue
You might be doing the same advertising you have since your shop opened, and that can be great! But only using one avenue might not be making the cut anymore. Are you only sending out mailers? Or giving coupons around the holidays? Revamping your advertising and expanding to different markets can get new customers in your doors. Get in touch with a Marketing professional and start placing advertisements in new places. Make sure your Marketing is covering both physical and online spaces, so your shop’s name can get in front of as many people as possible!
3. Cutting Marketing when it gets slow
When your shop hits a slow point, your first instinct might be to slash your Marketing budget. This is actually the time to invest more in it! Marketing your shop MORE is what’s going to get cars in your bays. As Marissa puts it, “If you need more vehicles, or to combat seasonal slows, the answer is to advertise for more vehicles.”
Look at what has worked in the past and determine which method has worked the best for you. Whether it be mailers, Google ads, or phone calls from your staff. There’s something that has drawn a crowd to you before and can do it again!
Kelsey said it best, “Shop doing well, lots of cars, KPIs are good? Keep Marketing! Shop slow, not enough cars, not a lot of money in the bank account? Keep Marketing!” The Marketing techniques that have worked best for her are the ones that show their customers how much they appreciate them. Each year around Christmas they send their clientele $25 off coupons, enticing previous customers to come back for any and all car maintenance. They also use USPS’s Every Door Direct Mail services. The mailers cost $0.41 each and bring in 15 to 20 new customers, netting them $5k-$10k in additional work. Their Marketing practices shows their community that they care, and they reap the benefits!
4. Lack of consistency
Does your Marketing have an overall theme? Are your materials expressing the same idea? Do they have the same color palette? All of these things are an important part of branding. The way you market your business is the first impression most customers will get of your shop. So, if you want to be seen as a homey, small-town shop or a sleek, professional business you’ll need to tailor your Marketing to appear the way you wish. Carefully choosing the layout, colors, and verbiage on your Marketing materials will help you come across as the business you want to be! Once your advertisements are consistent, customers will have a clear idea of who will be working on their cars when they come in. You can start building trust with clientele before they even walk through your doors.
5. Not looking at the overall picture
Looking at your KPIs week to week, even month to month can damage your view of your Marketing practices. Marketing is about looking at yearly trends, then deciding how to reach smaller goals from there. Marissa tells us, “I have clients who call in concerned they received fewer calls than the previous month, then jump to deciding their Marketing must not be working and it needs to be cut.” So, don’t make any decisions immediately. Take time to look over annual data and come up with a solid game plan.
6. Not being involved with your community
When you are consistently interacting with other local businesses in your community, your shop can become well-known all over town. By showing up to or sponsoring neighborhood events people will start to recognize your business. When they’re in a pinch they’ll know they can go to the involved, community-oriented local auto shop over a big corporation. Having your name appear again and again in your community will make you stand out against other shops. Your shop can become a household name amongst your town’s residents if you’re involved enough. Word of mouth is your friend!
Brandan and Kelsey have an annual “Customer Appreciation Day”! Around the shop’s anniversary in May, they will invite their regular customers to a barbeque they host. While gathered they smoke brisket, ribs, and pulled pork for everyone. There are usually 150 to 200 customers in attendance at this annual event. Kelsey says, “It’s a ton of fun, we and our customers look forward to it each year!”
7. Your Marketing is hard to find
If you’re focusing your Marketing efforts in the wrong places, it can seem like Marketing is not worth the time or money. Mark Bagg, owner of New Canaan Foreign Car, says his biggest mistake came from placing advertisements on the cash registers of grocery store checkouts. He wasn’t getting the business he wanted and had no way of tracking its success. Now, he says he always “tracks ROI and attaches surveys to advertisements.” He’s focused on getting the most customers and information he can!
Making sure your Marketing is technical and engaging is an important step! If no one can find your ads, what purpose does updating and personalizing them serve? Marissa’s advice is to “seek professional assistance to ensure your Marketing is optimized, from your website to your social media- it’s essential.” When possible customers don’t have to scour the internet to find your shop, they’re much more likely to use your services!
8. You don’t have a Unique Selling Proposition
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the one thing that makes your business better than the competition. Don’t worry, it can be easy to figure out what your USP is! Take a look at shops that are similar to yours in your local area. Then create a list of similarities and differences between your business and the ones you choose to look at. How long have you both been open? Are you both family owned? Once you find the differences between you and the other businesses in your area, you can find what makes you stand out. Now, you can focus your Marketing toward your USP. Your shop can become known for your AAA accreditation or the fact you run a “green” store. Customers will come to know your shop for what is special about it and you’ll start to stick out in their minds!
9. Not tracking your Marketing moves
When you don’t know which Marketing avenues are bringing in the most revenue, you might start funneling money into channels that aren’t profitable. That’s why it’s important to track each advertising effort you explore! Marissa’s advice: “Track the source of your leads! Ask you customers where they heard of you or how. From there, you have additional data to use to help you determine what’s profitable.” Just knowing where your customer heard about your business is valuable information. Once you know which avenue is your most profitable one, you can start allocating more of your Marketing budget in that area. Mark says after he took all of DRIVE’s Marketing classes, he “started tracking the phone calls coming into the shop to figure out why people were calling in.” By figuring out why people were calling, he was able to tailor his Marketing materials to consumer’s specific needs and maximize his profits!
Fixing these common mistakes is the first step toward making your Marketing as profitable as possible. Get with your Marketing manager and come up with a game plan to incorporate these tips! You’ll start to see your profits grow in no time.
By Chase Clough