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What Draws Customers

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I’m still a relatively new auto care customer. As a self-proclaimed car guy, I performed my own maintenance and repairs for over a decade, until the kids arrived, time grew short and I was willing to pay for the convenience of having someone else do it. 

Taking my vehicles to shops also helps give me insight into this job. I don’t ever mention the magazine, and I run through the motions as any other customer would. The difference between myself and others, though, is that I’ve been involved in enough editorial content on running an auto care business to fill a library of books.

That still doesn’t make me an expert on running a shop (we find the experts and bring their strategies to you each month), but it does make me hyper critical of what is happening around me: How I’m greeted, what paperwork I need to fill out, communications about repairs, the quality of the job, the cost and myriad other details. 

I’ve become somewhat of an auto shop traveler, trying new facilities when I need service rather than frequenting the same shop. The exception is when I need a larger repair—I have found one shop in particular that I trust above the rest. And that’s really the driving factor for many customers, isn’t it? Trust. Either they trust you as a returning customer, they trust a friend or family member who referred them, or they trust the reviews of a (trustworthy) online source. 

That trust is gold in auto care, as people are still leery about this industry, about services and costs that vary widely depending on who you talk to, and which  they know little about. But trust, for the most part, can only be built once someone is in the door, which brings me, finally, to the point of this column. What does your shop do to get potential customers to take a chance on you? What do you do to get them to the door, so you can begin building that trusting relationship they long for?    

Using myself as an example, what would you do to earn my business—brand-new business that you know is not easy to obtain compared with retention of existing customers? Earning that new business is how any shop is going to truly grow. Referrals, though important, can’t be the sole marketing tactic in most markets.   

In this month’s main feature, “Marketing Masters,” associate editor Bryce Evans interviewed two shops that understand the importance of marketing and go about it in a variety of ways. Most important for both of them, though, is that they keep track of what works and what doesn’t-. Every market is different, but the importance of systematically marketing your business is not. 

Hopefully this feature will give you a few ideas, or at least inspire you to try some new things if marketing has been on the back burner at your operation. And if you consider yourself to be a marketing master, shoot me an email and share a little bit about what you do. You might find yourself in our next feature on the topic. 

Jake Weyer

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