When economic conditions are tough as they
are now, the uncertainty of the future puts customers and business owners into
savings mode. People quickly begin foregoing little luxuries and businesses
start to trim unnecessary expenditures from their budgets.
For many auto refinishers, one of the first
things to be cut is often advertising. Unfortunately, this is one of the
deadliest mistakes that you can make for your auto refinishing business.
We all know that word of mouth is typically
the lifeblood of the auto refinishing industry. If times are prosperous, you
can rely on your customer base to spread the word about your business when
their friends, family members and coworkers need refinishing work. When people
begin to cut down on perceived luxury items due to unemployment, concern about
the dropping value of investments and other issues, it’s far less likely that
your customers’ contacts will be interested in refinishing.
Still, there are people in your community
that will need refinishing work that simply can’t or won’t wait until times are
better to have their cars refinished. By advertising, you have the chance to
promote your business to a larger audience and hopefully, find some of these
individuals and draw them to your shop.
Advertising an auto refinishing shop
doesn’t have to involve expensive methods like television and radio
commercials. There are many affordable, effective ways to advertise body shops
and paint shops, including:
– Create a web page of your body shop, if
you don’t have one. Running a business without a proper internet site nowadays,
is like working without telephone line twenty years ago. It shouldn’t be too
fancy, but straight forward information with all your services clearly stated.
– Social media – It’s simply not possible
to emphasize how beneficial a social media presence can be for advertising your
business. By providing content that people look forward to reading and sharing,
such as informative articles about car care, reviews of the latest vehicles,
stories about new automotive innovations and the like, you can build a large
following of prospective customers who will remember you when refinishing work
becomes necessary. Make sure that your Facebook, Google +, Twitter or Linkedin
pages are integrated with your web site. Running a blog with interesting information
would be also a great and inexpensive inbound marketing.
– Event hosting – By having a simple event
that is well promoted, such as offering free rust damage inspections, you can
help bring new people to your shop to meet you personally. Make sure you get
the names and telephone numbers of every attendee, so you can follow-up by
sending them a thank you letter and a coupon for discounted services.
– Direct mailing – Purchase a direct
mailing list from a qualified company with experience in creating lists for
your community. Every 6 weeks, send a mailing to everyone on your prospect
list. Make sure you vary the type of mailing that you send to keep things
interesting. For example, start with an introduction postcard with a coupon for
a reduced service, and then 6 weeks later, send a flyer about the dangers of
leaving dents unpainted.
– Community involvement – If there’s an event coming up in your
community, consider becoming a sponsor and putting up a booth. Offer a raffle
or drawing for a prize or for a free service like auto detailing. At your
booth, distribute promotional items that people are likely to keep, such as a
high quality refrigerator magnet or letter opener.
– Cross promote – Team up with other automotive businesses in your
area, such as tire shops, auto mechanics, car dealers, panel beaters, auto
parts stores and automotive insurance agents. Provide your advertising partners
with promotional items to distribute to their customers who are need of refinishing
and distribute promotional items for them. When you do refer a customer, call
your advertising partner and let them know to expect the call of your customer.
Not only will this make your customer feel special, but it also ensures that
your partner knows you gave him or her a referral, increasing the chances that
you’ll receive referrals back.
– Phone directories – Taking out a quarter-page advertisement in
telephone directories is often an effective advertising method. Make sure to
keep your ad short and to the point. It’s better to offer a coupon and provide
your company’s name, phone number and a short tag line like “The leaders
in refinishing for 35 years” than to list all of your company’s selling
points in a phone directory ad.
– Newspapers and coupon circulars – Although fewer people are reading
the newspaper on a daily basis, those
who still look forward to the daily paper are often middle-aged people who have
more disposable income or are more concerned about the condition of their vehicles.
By placing ads in newspapers or running promotions in coupon circulars, you can
reach this target market that may be likely to use your services.
– Billboards and signs – Taking out a billboard along a busy section
of street can help draw in business. Also, make sure the sign outside of your
shop is large enough to be noticed from the street and attractive enough to
draw people in.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and
you don’t need to try every advertising technique listed here at once. Start with
one or two methods and track your results. Make sure you ask new customers
where they heard about you and keep a running total of how much new business
each of your advertising methods generated. This way, you
can continue doing what works and replace ineffective methods with new
Remember, advertising is a work-in-progress
and results develop gradually over time. Be persistent and don’t give up on
your efforts to promote your refinishing business. If you are diligent and smart
in your advertising efforts, they’ll pay off in the end.