People love their cars, and if your business does a good job of keeping their favorite toys running — or helping them find a new one — they’ll love you as well. For many auto repair shops, auto parts stores, and car dealerships, the challenge is staying top-of-mind with customers between visits. Fortunately, a little creative effort is all you need to make sure you’re the first business people think of when an auto-related need arises — without busting your budget. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
1. Create a Referral Program
Prospective customers rely on trust for their auto-related products or services And what better way to build trust than with a referral from a satisfied customer?
Every time you complete a transaction, give the customer a referral card to pass on to a friend, colleague, or relative. Be sure to offer incentives both for the referral and the customer. For example, a repair shop might offer a free oil change to referrals and a 20 percent discount on the next service for referring customers.
2. Sponsor or Host Events
Live events offer a terrific opportunity to get your name out there in the spirit of fun and community engagement. Look for local events where you can have a presence and causes where you can get involved.
- Offer other local businesses a matching donation challenge at the annual United Way campaign with a Chili Cook-Off
- Get involved with area high schools and national organizations offering campaigns like Stop Texts Stop Wrecks.org
- Set up an “ask the expert” booth at a neighborhood fall festival. Invite attendees to visit with their toughest car-related questions, and be sure to give them a promo item to remember you by, such as a flashlight key chain
- Host your own events — like classic car shows or DIY maintenance clinics — at your dealership, shop or garage.
For any live event, remember that promotion is key, so get the word out early and often to ensure a good turnout. Then show your appreciation to attendees with a giveaway, such as an auto safety tool or an auto sun shade featuring your name and logo.
3. Build a Following on Social Media
Building a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks is another low-cost solution for small auto-related businesses. Remember, on social media, the key is engagement, not promotion. Think about ways to inform, educate, entertain, and inspire your audience; here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Post a simple “car care tip of the day”
- Share brief videos where you demonstrate topics like simple maintenance tricks & preparing for winter driving
- Post a photo of proud new car owners. What young adult doesn’t love a chance to get their picture on Facebook!
- Tap into pop culture with car-related trivia quizzes (“Match the car to the movie”) or open questions (“What’s your favorite roadtrip song?”)
4. Re-Engage Customers
Studies have shown that it costs businesses five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. Take a look at your customer list and identify the ones you haven’t seen in a while, then look for ways to re-engage them. For example, you can send them a mailer with the message “Come back — we miss you!” in which you offer for a free oil change and a simple giveaway such as a sticky note pad.
5. Publish How-To Content on Your Website
When people know that you “know your stuff,” they’ll be more likely to trust you with their auto-related needs. Instead of just telling them you’re the expert, why not show them? Post articles on your website where you write about useful information that any car owner can use, such as
- How to Clean Headlights the Right Way
- 10 Biggest Car Maintenance Mistakes … and What to Do Instead
- 5 Things Every Emergency Car Kit Needs
Car-related needs don’t arise every day, so it’s important to build relationships that will keep your brand at the top of current and prospective customers’ minds. By taking advantage of the low-cost and no-cost opportunities available to you, you can build a loyal, enthusiastic community that keeps business coming in … and revenues going up.