How Do You Make Marketing Decisions—With Your Gut or Data?
Many automotive repair shops make marketing decisions based on gut feelings rather than understanding and utilizing their existing customer data. In some situations, that might work—we all get lucky sometimes. The ability to access and understand your existing customer data, however, is an important factor that shouldn’t be ignored.
Paying attention to customer data could be the key to making your business more successful. It may not always be the most exciting thing to do, but bringing in more business, increasing your ARO and having higher profits is something any business owner can appreciate. Once you know what you are looking for, collecting and analyzing data will undoubtedly help you find new customers, retain existing ones and win back lost ones, all while saving money.
Data Can Help You Answer Business Questions
Customer data can work for you and increase profitability at your shop, but first you have to ask the right questions. Consider these:
“Who are the people most likely to come to my shop?”
“How do I reach these people?”
“How do I get the best value out of my marketing spend?”
“Why are sales slowing down?”
“What would make customers come in on a regular basis?”
All of these questions can be answered with data. Smart data analysis gives you answers unique to your shop and local market. This data can be found in places such as your website analytics, customer database, work order systems and even on your social media pages. This might sound overwhelming at first, but luckily there are companies out there—like Mudlick Marketing—that offer comprehensive data analysis to turn all these data points into meaningful insights. Mudlick Marketing can ensure you use the correct tools and focus on the right sources to get the answers to all of your questions.
Combining Different Sources of Data for a Better Customer View
One huge mistake many shops make is centering their marketing around who they believe their target customer is (whether that is where they live or other demographic or psychographic info), and not actually examining who is already coming into their shops and what constitutes their most loyal walk-ins. Taking the commonalities between your current customers and using that information to bring in new customers could make a big difference in how successful your marketing campaigns are.
Important customer data questions to ask are:
How did your current customers initially hear about your shop?
Which services are most popular?
What are the demographics of your most loyal customers?
How often does a customer visit your shop?
What kind of cars normally come into your shop?
Using the information that you already have means you can look toward the future with an open and educated eye. When you know what your customers look like, what drew them in and what they are interested in, you can make that a cornerstone of your marketing. This will bring in new customers while keeping your current customers happy.
Rely on Data to Find Opportunities for the Future
Looking at the past can sometimes distract you from looking at the present. If you notice a new form of traffic coming from somewhere that results in a high level of sales, that most likely means that there is a new market that you should start focusing on (even if you haven’t seen that customer base in the past).
Comparing past and present data will offer direction on what to do in the future. When you have analyzed your customer data, you might find that there is a specific marketing campaign that has provided you with more new customers now than it has in the past. Without looking at the data and comparing it to previous data, you can’t drill down into what changes have led to a sudden increase in car count.
If you focus too much on the present, you will end up making the same mistakes you’ve made in the past. If you focus too much on the past, you will miss new opportunities. You need to equally consider past and present data to understand future trends. There are many different levers that can be adjusted within your marketing machine, and it is important to truly understand which actions drive certain changes for your business and move the needle up or down.
Start Making Better Decisions Using the Power of Data
As you can see, there are many perks to delving into your data. Including data analysis in the decisions you make about your auto repair shop can turn it into a habit that you can leverage. We understand sorting through data can seem like a daunting task and is something many do not enjoy spending their time doing. When you become aware of your data and how it affects your business, however, you will almost always achieve better results versus going with your gut. Proper use of data can provide you with a basic mathematical formula to show you exactly which marketing channels to use for your shop, and exactly how much you need to spend on marketing to drive in the number of new customers you desire.
Anyone who does direct marketing has all sorts of data waiting for them. It’s just a matter of being aware of it, taking responsibility for it (or engaging a company to help you interpret it), and using it in the right way. You can then use the data you find to answer the questions you never could before. This will help you uncover new opportunities, increase car count, improve customer satisfaction and make decisions without second-guessing yourself.
Commit to making data a priority for your shop and you will see improvements almost instantly. It is not as hard as it may seem, and there are experts out there who are happy to guide and assist you along the way.
Tim Ross is Co-Founder and CEO at Mudlick Marketing. He has over a decade of auto repair marketing experience, helping over 5,000 shops increase their car count over the years. For more information, visit www.mudlickmarketing.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.