Auto Care on the Air
Frank Leutz looks straight into a video camera, engaging his audience.
“We should introduce the topic, man,” Leutz says to his co-host, Steve Grosz. “We’re gonna cover some road-trip snippity-snappity songs.”
Grosz, an FM radio veteran, takes the baton, speaking in an up-tempo fashion, adding “What song—when you get out on the open road, and you’re going to L.A., or going to Vegas, or you’re going to Texas, or New Mexico, or Flagstaff—what song do you like to turn up and jam? … We’ll give you a prize if you call in with yours.”
Welcome to Wrench Nation in its radio form, which, as of this writing, is broadcast every Wednesday afternoon by 88.7-FM The Pulse of Mesa, Ariz.
Leutz is a natural in front of an audience, whether addressing show topics, such as “Road Trip Songs from Memorial Day Weekend,” or meatier auto-related issues, such as “Buying a Used Car: Tips and Tricks” (episode 18 of his show). But, while making such YouTube material is often an exciting process for Leutz―the president of Desert Car Care Chandler in Chandler, Ariz.―it’s also a big business-builder.
The shop owner says that once his business started using video messages as part of its email campaigns, open rates eventually increased from 12 percent to nearly 30 percent, according to MailChimp marketing stats. Two years ago, Desert Car Care experienced 30 percent year-over-year growth, and Leutz says his business is currently “tracking year-over-year (growth) of 15 percent.”
And, he’s quite confident that utilizing YouTube can work for other shop owners, too.
“If you can understand how YouTube can fit into your business,” he explains, “it really is about understanding the digital DNA in our current economy, and speaking to that marketplace.”
YouTube’s Increasing Appeal
Leutz is a man who’s clearly aware of media’s changing landscape, and numbers such as this: According to Nielsen’s most recent Total Audience Report, Americans ages 18-24 watched roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes less of TV per week in 2016’s second quarter than they did a year earlier, numbers that hint at TV advertising’s diminishing value these days.
Stats like that make YouTube’s versatility all the more intriguing to business owners like Leutz.
“Realizing conventional marketing (and) media may not have the legs it once did, we knew we had to meet our clients,” Leutz notes, “as they researched not only reviews and overall reputation, but engaged in video as a source of decision making.”
That’s why Leutz is slowly but surely starting to populate Wrench Nation’s YouTube page with videos that shed light on his passion for the auto industry (see ratchetandwrench.com/wrenchnation). Or, viewers can watch extended clips of his radio show (example: Episode No. 23―Check Engine Light Help). Meanwhile, Desert Car Care’s own YouTube page also features the occasional auto tip segment Leutz has done on local TV in the Phoenix area. Leutz began using YouTube especially heavily in early 2016.
“Wrench Nation is all about the culture of people, the storytelling of the good, the bad,” Leutz notes.
Leutz, the president of Chandler’s 2015 Small Business of the Year, realizes that not all shops can afford to spend nearly $10,000 on DSLR camera equipment, as his did. That said, the owner insists shrewd social-media use—and using YouTube in particular, largely due to its visual nature—can pay dividends.
“As upper management—the business owners—we’re so tapped into ROI,” he says, “with just about every function we have in our organization. The hard concept to swallow with social media is not so much the ROI, but it’s the COI—and that’s the cost of ignoring.
“At this point in time, there is a huge shift in how people will do business with your company,” Leutz adds. “ … How we can connect with our consumer very much includes video presentation. As our new, potential clients are researching a potential company to do business with, it makes it that much more appealing and digitally attractive when the staff is speaking directly to them, in a natural way.”
“Within the YouTube community, you truly have to just be yourself.”
- Frank Leutz, owner, Desert Car Car
Creativity is Key
When it comes to the use of social media outlets like YouTube for marketing, value lies in being unique.
“You have to understand,” Leutz explains, “that social media isn’t just an auto-pilot [posting] of specials that you’re running, or perhaps articles that you copy and paste. People want to hear stories from the garage.”
Desert Car Care has received a positive response from its upbeat tales of shop life. Recently, for example, Leutz’s business offered free oil changes to area teachers; media outlets covered it en masse.
“I think for a local garage,” Leutz says, “showing up to any events and recording those events—it doesn’t have to be live—but recording those ‘feel-good events’ … anything about your business and the personality of your business, is crucial.”
In an era of often harsh Yelp reviews, positive web content is of undeniable value.
“Years ago, people would check in with the BBB (Better Business Bureau),” Leutz says. “Now, more so than ever, there’s sort of this, ‘We want to see the identity, we want to see the spirit of that business.’ So a local garage can simply tell the story of their people.”
“Within the YouTube community, you truly have to just be yourself. You truly just have to be transparent,” says Leutz, who also suggests using video tags and keywords centered around auto parts, in order to make the video prominent on Internet search engines.
Turning YouTube Posts into Revenue
Leutz, the president of the Phoenix chapter of the Automotive Service Association, is a firm believer in the “Three-legged Stool of Marketing.” That includes “medium” (the outlet used); “market” (the consumer demographic being targeted); and “message” (the company’s sales pitch). Leutz stresses that if those areas are studied thoroughly by shops, then they can better attract quality leads in an ever-evolving, media-driven culture.
“People want to tell their story,” Leutz says, “and if you can identify that within your business, in a modern-day garage, you can involve people and convert them to consumers.”
A key reason behind Leutz’s growing YouTube presence over the past year is actually micro-marketing. While he may speak to the occasional radio-show caller from Indonesia, for example, Leutz knows it makes business sense to stay focused primarily on potential leads close to home.
“Right now, we’re consistently doing the radio show in this local trade area,” he notes, “and if I can carve out this micro market, we can then prove ourselves in other markets.”
Another lesson to be learned from the business’s YouTube channels: Pay close attention to the comments section.
“We made it a point to engage comments,” Leutz says of Desert Car Care and its employees. “Where I can really transition over into some return on investment is how I repurpose that on my bi-monthly emails—as I sit down with my team, a lot of [our] open rate is attributed to the content from the video.
“You pretty much can close anyone that has an issue or has some sort of possible fear from dealing with other garages,” Leutz notes. “So that video is extremely important in building the transparency.”
Let the Stories Flow
Leutz has clearly enjoyed his foray into the world of YouTube. He has yet to ascend to Keyboard Cat-level stardom, but that’s just fine.
The accomplished, longtime shop owner is confident Desert Car Care will continue to benefit from its YouTube exposure.
And, he’s confident that other shop owners can reap similar rewards if they utilize YouTube wisely.
“Pick the few people in your organization that are the storytellers,” Leutz suggests, “and let them tell the story about your business. That’s so important for the marketability of your business these days.”