Get a fresh outlook on the world of automotive marketing
Column by VENESSA DI VITO
In my 18 years of automotive business coaching, I’ve had the privilege to travel across North America in my various corporate roles. I’ve set foot in well over 500 collision repair facilities in every province and (almost) every state; enough facilities that I am confident that I have a strong understanding of what our industry is doing well and where there are definite needs for improvement. With this understanding, I’ve seen that collision repair facilities rarely focus on marketing within their local communities. I often ask why?
What I have seen during my travels is that collision repair facilities rely on other companies, like insurance companies or dealerships, to provide them with business. The only opportunity and fear I see with this type of business approach is that collision repair facilities are often in a very vulnerable state where the future of their business is in the hands of others—a scary thought. I still remember the first moment I realized that I wanted to make a difference. I was sitting at a very reputable, independent, highperformance collision repair shop when they received the news that almost 30 percent of their total sales were going to be lost. The dealership that they regularly conducted business with for so many years sold to an alternative dealership that had their own collision centre. Overnight, everything had changed. Since that day, similar stories have crossed up across the sector up more than once.
In this moment I realized a collision repair facility which depends solely on others to provide them with work can never truly be secured in their business model. As a result, I would like to offer a suggestion to solve such a problem: for collision repair facilities to focus on a stronger relationship with the customer directly in order to have a more secure and predictable future.
So, how does one go about implementing this strategy? For starters, building awareness within a collision repair centre’s local community will be one of the biggest areas of opportunity for most shops, which we will dive into later in this article.
Before exploring the solution further, let me clarify my message: strategic partners are important. In fact, they are critical to the success of a collision repair facilities business. That’s why it is equally important for a collision repair facility to focus on having a strong relationship with these partners as well.
What exactly do I mean by strategic partners? A strategic partner is an arrangement between two companies to work together with the shared mission of growth and mutual success. Strategic partners include businesses such as insurance companies, car dealerships, banners/networks, relationships with other businesses, OEM certifications, fleet companies, rental car companies, brokers, and agents.
Who is my target customer?
To even begin to market to the right audience with the right message, it is imperative that a shop understands who their target customer is.
Here are three suggestions:
1) Recently got into a car accident
2) Looking to repair damage to vehicle
3) Looking for additional services for their vehicle
For many years, traditional marketing was the only option—and an expensive one at that. Now, with digital marketing as an alternative, you have more opportunities and affordable solutions to build strong relationships with customers directly.
Automotive Marketing has never been popular
As I continued to gain experience throughout my years of automotive coaching, I began to see a clear trend: most collision repair facilities did not have a marketing budget. If a facility spent money on marketing at all, it was often less than two percent of their total sales. How can a business survive, or thrive, if they have never dedicated the time and money to market their own brand? When speaking to various shop owners, there was a consensus on why such a trend was occurring. It is not that such shops do not want to market their business, but that most shops do not understand how to market their business. Many also believe that it is something they simply cannot afford to do.
Different Ways of Marketing
With the focus on your target customer, collision repairers can market and advertise in a variety of ways, and these typically fall into two main categories. Traditional marketing and digital marketing.
Here are some examples between the differences of the two:
As you can see in the above chart, traditional and digital services are very different in nature, yet both provide value to a business looking to grow within their local markets.
Where do I start?
Businesses often ask us, “which strategy is better to start my marketing with?” We always reply, “it depends!” Choosing a strategy depends on what goal you are trying to achieve is, what is your timeline is, and what your budget is. Traditional marketing can be very expensive, and it is often difficult to prove a return on investment (ROI). It can be more impactful depending on how you go about using it.
On the other hand, digital marketing is a much more costeffective solution and can provide measurable growth but utilizing such a method requires time to get going before you will see powerful results.
So, which marketing method should a facility start with? We recommend using a mix of the two.
What I have seen during my travels is that collision repair facilities rely on other companies, like insurance companies or dealerships, to provide them with business.
How much money should I spend?
If you are just starting to market your business and are not sure how much to spend on marketing, we recommend dedicating at least three to five percent (or more) of your total sales each month.
The marketing funnel is the foundation of any great marketing strategy. It is something numerous marketing agencies keep handy to help understand a customer’s purchase mindset and how they should start executing their strategy.
Starting from the top at building awareness in your local community and moving down the through the funnel, we have provided some recommendations on how and where a shop can get started today with their marketing strategy.
For many years, traditional marketing was the only option and an expensive one at that. Now, with digital marketing as an alternative, you have more opportunities and affordable solutions to build strong relationships with customers directly.
As a result, such business can really focus on the opportunity they have to flourish and #ownthemarket within their local communities.
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If you would like more details on this article, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.