What is your greatest hurdle when starting an auto repair business on a shoe string? Beyond your tools, beyond your space, beyond the constant need to check and double check your books your biggest hurdle will be getting the word out.
How do I know this? Because I work with shops who have been in business for decades and they still have a problem keeping the car count up!
In this day and age word of mouth (WoM) is the most powerful tool you have. However, WoM has changed. We’re now seeing reports from shop owners, in the same place servicing the same customers for over 35 years who are seeing drop offs in their numbers.
Is this how you want to launch your new venture?
Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – #1 Mistake You Must Avoid
Before I give you some information on what you should look into in order to be successful starting an auto repair business on a shoe string, there is one thing you must NOT do.
GET OUT OF THE PHONEBOOK!!!!
The phonebook is the #1 way you will dump scads of cash down the drain and never see any return. Frequently when we interview new clients we ask them what they do to get their names out there. We hear: direct mail, coupons, internet… but very infrequently will anyone mention the phonebook.
So we ask directly. And they say “Yes, of course we’re in the phonebook!”
The phonebook has become something most shop owners ‘just do’. I have to admit, that’s some amazing persuasive force those phonebook folks have on the auto repair industry! But like so many other rituals, it has simply become a costly and completely useless tradition.
You can live without it. Like they say with drugs: Just say no.
Here are some hard, cold facts about phonebook advertising:
#1: Phonebooks provide nothing in the way of relevant information. They are a list. Furthermore, they are a list which makes every company look pretty much the same. The fact is you need to stand out in a crowd if you’re going to have a prayer of surviving in this massively competitive market.
#2: Your customers are not going to find you in the phonebook. Almost every man, woman and child in America is using the internet to find information. Be there. But be there correctly. (More on this later)
#3: Phonebook readership has declined by an insane amount in the past 5 years. Sure they mail one out to every home in the country, but does anyone read it? No. People use phonebooks as kindling or as something to prop up chairs.
Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – Your Biggest Solution
Since you’re starting an auto repair business on a shoe string, you have a massive advantage over your competition. You have not yet fallen prey to the mindless, cookie-cutter advertising traditions your competition has been butchering for decades.
In fact, you may not even need to use traditional advertising to start.
Here’s a question to consider: why does word of mouth work in the first place?
We’ve started asking shop owners that question and what we’ve gotten back is pretty good. Most shop owners give variations of this: “WoM works because we did a good job. People tell their friends when they have car problems and that’s what keeps food on our plates.”
What’s wrong with this statement? Nothing. It’s 100% true. But it’s not the complete picture.
Here’s another question: how can you create WoM before you have any customers to sing your praises?
The answer is tied into the reason WoM works in the first place. WoM works because you have established trust with your customer.
Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – The #1 Golden Rule
People buy more goods and services from those who they know and trust. And the #1 way to build trust is to become an information service provider to those people.
Become that information provider to your local market, and you may never have to spend a dime on conventional advertising.
Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – Problems = Potential
Did you know that in most markets auto repair shops are frequented by a massive percentage of women drivers? Did you also know most of these women drivers feel they are being completely taken advantage of? They fear taking the car into the shop.
What if you were to address this concern directly?
What do you think would happen if you were to offer free lessons where people who feel scammed could come to your shop and learn how to avoid the problems in the first place?
Who do you think would enjoy this? Women. Your customers. Everyone.
Spreading the word would cost about as much as a sheet of paper. You would create a press release, send it to the local media and then get the information into the hands of the PTA or some other group.
Offer your information completely free and never, never pitch or sell your services. Have the people who come ask questions, give demonstrations and show examples of what they need to watch out for.
Do this 1x per month and you will find yourself so busy you’ll have to double your staff.
What do you think the result would be for your business if you were to be seen as the #1 facility in your town where people can go and not be taken advantage of?
Total Cost: $0. Total Effectiveness: Infinite
Welcome to starting an auto repair business on a shoe string.