A typical auto repair often has a tough time coming up with marketing ideas. Most auto repair shops are too busy running their business and servicing customers and coming up with complete customization repairs that they forget to think about marketing. Marketing is one of those things that you don’t realize you need until your well begins to run dry.

The best time to think about marketing is when you don’t need it. Here are our best ways for auto repair shops to start some marketing in ways they haven’t thought much about before.

1. Encourage customer reviews

Customers don’t typically make it a point to go and give you a review online. In extreme cases (extremely good and extremely bad) customers will go out of their way to give you a review, it’s the run of the mill happy customers you want to try to have them review you.

Good reviews also mean new leads – those who leave reviews (especially really positive ones) are like a referrer for your business.

The top mainstream review sites you should sign up for:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • YellowPages
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Here are some tips to help separate you from other auto repair shops:

  • Ask in a professional way
  • Remind them of your your other social media platforms and review site pages
  • Encourage a review on your Google Business Page, as it will show up when people search for your company on Google  and create a great first impression for prospects.

2. Local community involvement

Getting involved in the local community is a great way to get your name and face out there. Not everyone is looking for your services today, but by being involved, you can be in their context once they are looking. Here are some ideas:

  • Meetup: A great way to find local communities for auto repair shops. All of the meetups happen offline and locally, so get involved.
  • Contribute help to local associations and citizen groups
  • Offer help to local schools and PTAs and show support for your growing community

3. Auto repair shop online community involvement

Online communities can help drive business to your website.

  • Helps potential customers get to know you and your services
  • Find a site to showcase your expertise, where people are looking for it. Car blogs, forums, etc.
  • LinkedIn
  • Question and answer forums, like Quora and Yahoo Answers
  • Look for community forums and discussions, especially on Reddit (look for subreddits on auto repair shops)

4. Share your business card with other local business and partners

Many local businesses with waiting areas allow other local businesses to place business cards (of course, you should also return the favor). For example, if you do mechanical work, look to place your business cards at a nearby body shop or tire shop.

Other alternative cards include gyms, salons, daycares, as they all typically have a business cards share. Have your employees be on the lookout for these types of establishments. Like-minded businesses with a similar market can exchange cards and help each other grow.

5. Give-aways and contests

Giveaways are a great auto repair marketing tactic because they don’t need a lot of capital and have a high return on investment. For example, you could do a raffle for a free tune-up or certain amount of store credit. Some other potential rewards include inexpensive car parts, like wiper blades or a free tank of gas. Here’s our comprehensive guide on offering giveaways.

6. Customer referral program

Customer referral programs leverage your existing customers to get new customers. Since most auto shops focus on providing good customer service and have a steady flow of returning customers, it’s easy to establish some sort of relationship. With the right reward and promotion a referral program could bring you a ton of new customers. Here are some resources to help you get started:

7. Social media

By now, every business knows social media presence is important to meet your customers where they are. While it does take work, the pay off is worth it as the platform allows you to tap into a huge market.

Plus, if you’re on social media, it’s even easier for customers to share your business page with others. For instance, Facebook offers a recommendation feature. Say, someone is looking for an auto shop, they simply ask their friends who they recommend. If you’re on Facebook and someone recommends or tags you, your business information is automatically added to the reply. This allows for excellent, not to mention free, advertisement.

8. Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to keep in touch with your existing customers. Here are some of our best tips:

  • Think before you email: Is the content right for my audience? Is it compelling? Will they care? Once you start sending irrelevant content, you could lose your audience.
  • Be contextual: Send content that’s relevant to your customers. Is it close to the holidays? Highlight your products that would make great gifts. Nearing summer? Highlight a feature that tests tires and gets them ready for potential summer road trips.
  • Don’t send for the sake of sending: If you don’t have anything important to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • Maximize your email: Consider including some other marketing ideas, like promoting your contests or customer referral program, in the footer of your email.

9. Customer service

Last but not least, customer service is one of the key factors to getting more business. Whether your business depends on recurring customers or generating new leads, one of the best things you can do is provide consistent customer service to everyone.

Make sure everyone on your team – your front office staff, your billing people, etc. always put the customer’s experience and needs first.