With UK motorists receiving service through a network of more than 42,000 independent workshops, franchised repairers, autocentres, fast fits, collision centres, tyre stores and speciality garages, making sure your business stands out from the competition is vital. And your marketing efforts play a key role in this.
What may appear to some as ‘smoke and mirrors’ or simply a case of ‘being in the right place at the right time’ can provide a significant return on investment for those who get it right. Knowing just how to do this, however, is often a key challenge faced by independent workshop owners. And often it is left to you, the business owner, to market your business, win more trade and ‘make a name’ for yourself – on top of everything else!
So, to help you get started, take a look at our quick guide to give your marketing a boost…
1. Know who you’re targeting
Whilst it may seem obvious, it’s often surprising how many small businesses haven’t identified or documented who their ideal customer is. As the old saying goes: “You can’t please them all” – and this is certainly true when it comes to marketing your garage business.
Have you asked yourself who your target customer is recently? If not, these two simple questions will help you uncover your ideal customer base:
Answering these questions will help you build a profile of your ideal target audience and leave you in a much better position to start focusing your marketing efforts in the right places.
2. What’s your message?
Put yourself in your (ideal) customers’ shoes.
Why should they choose your garage over a competitor? What is it that makes you stand out? Do you do something differently? Or better?..
Knowing what differentiates your business from the 41,999 alternative options – in your customers’ eyes – is the key to building your message.
3. How to reach your target customers…
Once you’ve identified who you’re targeting, and with what message, selecting the best channels to reach your target customer base is the next step. But, with a multitude of different channels and techniques to choose from – and not to mention the seemingly endless stream of new marketing ‘fads’ – deciding where to target your marketing efforts (and budget) can seem an overwhelming task.
Whilst much of this will ultimately depend on who your ideal customer is, there are some common places you can start…
Bring your website up to scratch
29% of small businesses do not have a website
The company website is one of the central pillars of marketing for any independent business – so making sure yours is up to scratch is a must. Simply having a website will put you ahead of over a quarter of your competition; however, to really make your website ‘work’ for you will require a bit more attention.
Make sure your customers can easily contact you – 65% of consumers want to see contact information directly on your site’s homepage. Make your telephone number clearly visible across your site (and especially on your homepage) so your potential customers can easily contact you without having to do too much digging.
Optimise your search capabilities – The higher you appear in Google’s search listing, the more visitors you’ll have to your website. But, with over 200 factors taken into account when it comes to Google’s search rankings, knowing just how to get to the top spot can be a challenge for even the most experienced of marketers. Luckily, however, following some simple rules will make sure you've got the basics covered:
Register your garage with Google My Business – Setting up a Google My Business account will make sure you appear in Google’s local garage listings when a potential customer searches for your services.
Include keywords across your website – Choose keywords which are directly relevant to the products or services your potential customers are looking for and make sure they are prominent across your website. (e.g. car service, local mechanic, etc…)
Optimise your website pages – This is where it gets a bit more technical. After selecting the right keywords, focus on optimising the internal elements of your site, such as page-titles, meta-descriptions, headers and tags (if you’re not sure, your website provider should be able to help). In 2016, mobile web usage took over desktop usage, so your website should also work just as well on mobile as it does on a desktop.
Utilise third party listings – People search for garages on a lot of different websites, so it’s important to be visible on as many of them as possible. For example, there are a number of third party listings customers can use to find a garage in their local area. Some, such as Yell.com or Yelp.com, are free; others, like trustmygarage.com or bookmygarage.com, will charge a small fee.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good review…
73% of consumers are more likely to choose a business that has online reviews compared to a business that has none
Trust is a key factor in consumers’ decision making. In fact, according to a recent ExxonMobil survey, 75% of British motorists say that finding a “mechanic I can trust” is the most significant factor when choosing a garage. And, with 74% of consumers saying that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, customer testimonials can be key when it comes to driving new business into your workshop. Ask your loyal customers to leave a positive review on your social media platforms. Or, even better, ask for a testimonial that you can share on your website.
When done right, social media is an incredible medium for reaching new customers, engaging an existing client base and providing alternative ways of delivering customer support. Generally speaking, as your engagement with the public on social media increases (providing it is done in the right way), so too will your business’ profile.
71% of consumers who have had a good social media experience are more likely to recommend a company to others
So, just where do you start?..
Your company profile – Creating your own company page on Facebook and Twitter and encouraging customers to follow you provides a great opportunity to share your latest offers and updates – as well as allowing customers to publicly post reviews.
Join community groups – Many towns have dedicated community pages or groups on Facebook, which can be used to promote your business page. Keep an eye out for anyone asking for recommendations for local garage services.
Allocate some budget – For those able to allocate even a small budget, most social media platforms also offer precise ad targeting options, enabling businesses to generate thousands of views and hundreds of website visits, all on a CPC (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) basis – so you’ll only pay when someone engages with your ad.
Engage in a conversation – One of the great things about social media is that it enables businesses to engage in a two-way conversation with their customers. Answer questions; ask for feedback; offer solutions; and, most importantly, respond to any complaints you might receive!
Develop your brand
Developing a brand image is just as important for the independent garage owner as it is for large corporations. A strong brand will help to develop (and maintain) a competitive advantage, distinguish your products and services, give your business a unique identity and create customer loyalty.
Your unique brand should be a true representation of who you are as a garage business – and how you wish to be perceived. But branding is more than just a logo or company colours; it encompassed everything from your voicemail message and social media presence, to the products you use or how you present yourself when delivering a service. So take all of these into account when thinking about crafting your brand.
25% of consumers thinks a “recognisable name” is critical when choosing a workshop – and using premium brands is a reason to return
Looking to give your marketing a boost? Speak to our expert team about how you can harness the brand power of the world’s leading engine oil to maximise your marketing impact and enhance your brand image.Contact us on: or call 0333 222 4034