Marketing in the Modern Age

April 1, 2015
Mike Giblin, Kukui’s president of operations, discusses the state of marketing in the auto care industry

Before joining marketing software solutions developer Kukui Corp., Mike Giblin spent the first 25 years of his career operating his family’s $3.2-million-a-year service station. That experience has given him firsthand knowledge of the repair industry and a keen understanding of the marketing tactics that work for repair shops. 

Giblin, now the president of U.S. operations at Kukui, discusses the state of marketing in the industry and what every shop needs to do to market successfully in 2015.

What are some of your top tips For improving a shop’s online presence?

When you look at 2015, some remarkable things are happening, such as gas prices lowering significantly. That means there’s more money in a consumer’s pocket. If they have more money and a greater opportunity to travel, they’re going to take advantage. When you’re traveling, you’re putting money in your vehicle. The opportunity to have a repair is more prominent. 

As far as a tip to owners, they need to pay attention to the force multipliers of their business. Those are critical metrics that can have a significant impact on their business. What are the things that actually make a customer shop up? 

A lot of folks don’t recognize that when someone goes to a website, they make a buying decision about you in five seconds. They need to believe that you’re trustworthy and capable. It’s imperative on your site to provide three things: 1) A relevant solution to your problem. The prospect needs to understand that the business is close. 2) A trustworthy component. A great trustworthy components would be reviews. A client has come in, spent money and written a review. Google looks at that as very relevant. 3) A consumer wants to see if a shop is providing a good value. The perception of value is critical. 

How have you seen the industry change when it comes to marketing?

Over the years, it’s moved away from being directive. There was a period of time when, if my car broke down, I would go to the Yellow Pages and search “automobile.” It was hopefully going to give me the solution I needed so I could get my car repaired. We have come to an era where it’s a more refined approach. The rate of change has been increasing over the last 20 years. If I just put out whatever it is that I do and expect that to be sufficient forever and ever, it’s not really going to work.

Where do you see the future of marketing in the industry going?

Marketing as a whole has become fractured. There are more platforms out there than ever. It requires you to be involved in more venues. There’s no longer a silver bullet, that one thing that is going to work all the time. 

You need a website that’s optimized and it needs to be effective so that no matter what type of device you’re using—whether it’s a smart phone, tablet or PC—the branding and the messaging remains the same. 

It’s really important to be focused. For example, here in Silicon Valley, Google is super strong and has a huge presence. We’ve found that as we’re advertising with Google AdWords, there are places in the country where our success with Google hasn’t been as strong as it is in other areas. Yahoo and Bing might be a better option in this geographical location. 

It used to be that you’d throw out a million postcards and hope. It’s become more of a science. You’re able to become more finite and target the postcard to the customer to really scratch where they’re itching. 

Finally, as a whole, whether it’s from housing prices to whatever the case may be, we’re seeing more urban diversification. A shop in itself has to be more diversified. It’s not enough to be in just this one little pocket; we’re going to have to create tentacles in different arenas. 

What are some of the most common mistakes you see shops making when it comes to marketing? 

The misconception of the numbers is huge. We can be enamored by the numbers, instead of really looking at the hard dollars that are now in the business. They seem great, but did a customer actually come in and spend money? If they did, how much did they spend? 

We take on a lot of clients and they’re getting Google AdWords campaigns created that are a huge radius, when statistics show if you go beyond a three-mile radius, your level of capture significantly diminishes. 

Another thing is that most businesses don’t really invest enough in marketing. You look at your gross dollars and you have to analyze, what are you trying to accomplish? Some people think, I’m only going to use word of mouth because we’re honest and have integrity. That may well be the case, but that’s not how people are making decisions anymore.

What are the challenges of Internet searches?

When we talk about current changes, there’s a lot that comes to play. Google is the controller of most of the demand out there. Google admits to changing algorithms about 500–600 times a year. That’s a big fancy term for, are you relevant in their eyes or not? There’s a change occurring at least every day. Some are minor but some are major. When you have all of that going on, your presence as it relates to all things Internet can’t be static. It’s not that type of an environment anymore. New trends are developing every day. 

The industry as a whole has migrated from mom-and-pop shops to top-level shops. What we’ve seen is that a lot of that mom-and-pop faction is coming to an end. I think over the next two to three years it will prevail that it will be next to impossible for those folks who aren’t embracing these trends to remain in business. When those trends are developing daily, we have to understand that there are a lot of changes taking place. When an operator is looking for help, they have to be proactive, not reactive. A reactive attitude is going to put them in a position where they’re trying to catch up. The problem is that once you catch up, there’s already something new that’s popped up. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Resources for Shops Like Yours

View insights, research and solutions curated specifically for shops like yours.

Restore & Protect: The Powerful Revenue and Profit Accelerator for Your Business

Restore & Protect is a major business opportunity for Valvoline installers with positive impact on profit growth as well as customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Deliver a First-Class Guest Experience

Our dedicated Valvoline Trusted Advisor Sales and Support Team provides hands-on classroom and targeted in-store coaching to help your employees become more skilled at selling...

Promote Growth on Two Fronts: Existing and New Customers

Increase Sales and Customer Traffic To Your Store(s).