- December 3, 2006 at 3:58 pm #4063
It would be great to have a list of 101 (or whatever) marketing ideas which cost less than $1,000 per year. I’ll throw out a few and you add to it.
Have some business card size stickers made that list the basic information about your shop and place one under the hood of every car you service.
Buy a sandwhich board type sign with changeable letters, list specials or other shop information on it and set it out by the street during the day.
Install flags near the front of the shop to attact attention.
5355 Plainfield Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
- December 6, 2006 at 7:52 pm #7396
We use magnetic business cards. We buy the magnets and stick our cards to them. We send them out with thank you letters to new customers in envelopes that have business card windows where your return address would normally be (Columbian CO134) so the customer can see, and feel, right away that there is something in the envelope.
We just started attaching our key chains, with the customer last name on back, when customers leave only thier spare car keys. That way the spares that they drop off are already labeled for us and them.
- December 6, 2006 at 8:03 pm #7397
More and more of my customers are pre-booking the next appointment and using email as follow up and confirmation of the next appointment. They also send Thank You messages this way with a link to a feedback site.
- December 12, 2006 at 2:58 pm #7398
Couple ideas: We have magnets shaped like a wrench that people love to take(Are on the front counter) – And hopefully all are putting it on their fridge.
We also hand out "Kevin Bucs" – Which are either $10.00 or $20.00 fake bills with my picture on & our shop info. on both sides. I had someone help me with this & has worked GREAT. We mail this to customer’s too(like when large work is needed etc) & have incorporated it on tri-fold’s – Our response have been better than any coupon ever.
- December 14, 2006 at 3:39 am #7402
I have a key chain that is about the size of a business card. It is numbered 1 to 10 with our name and a message that when all ten space’s are punched you receive a free oil change. It works well for returns, but I will tell you to be selective on who you give them to. I usually try to give them to new customer’s who spend money. I try to never give them to the price shopper’s. It works but just be careful. I also have bright orange business cards everyone always tell’s me that they can alway’s spot my car in there collection of card’s.
- December 14, 2006 at 11:25 pm #7403
We also use signs, like ones you see in front yards during voting time, front avery that you can print yourself and it comes with the ground stakes and we place them out front in the grass by the stop sign.
Brightly colored banners with specials/promotions, features of shop, or benefits of service to hang outside. Use different colors and rotate them out often so when people see new colors they will check out the current banner.
- December 15, 2006 at 1:25 am #7404
That brings to mind the sandwich boards we use. We have 8 or 10 different placards that attach to either of our two sandwich boards.
One say’s (actually two, one for each side) "We service Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus" with a tag line or two.
Another has a REAL cheap oil change, to drag ’em all in. Yeah, I know, it attracts a lot of bottom feeders, but it’s like fishin with dynamite, you pick the ones you want to keep.
Another has "FREE BRAKES". Which is a "bait & deliver" method.
Another two have Honda/Toyota respectivly at the top, then text referring to us as Honda/Toyota service Central, we ARE the Experts etc.
Another: Oil change, inspection & rotate special that brings in a few.
- December 15, 2006 at 1:26 am #7405
Another cheap marketing tool is flags. We have a semi-circular showroom with a planter all around that. In the planter I have seven tubes for flags. Of course, our US Flag (always highest). Then a Michigan Flag, a Coast Guard Flag (Grand Haven is Coast Guard City USA!) then brand name flags like Acura, Honda etc that I buy on Ebay.
- January 2, 2007 at 3:06 pm #7409
I think the best marketing ever is a computer based shop management system(I use R.O. Writer) to send customers a letter telling them what service their vehicle is due for. It’s super easy with R.O. Writer. We have great response from our mailings.
- January 3, 2007 at 12:05 am #7410
Got to ask Rob, What is a Bait and Deliver method when it comes to free brakes on the sign board out front? I guess I am missing something.
- January 3, 2007 at 2:02 am #7411
What is a Bait and Deliver method?
Bait & Deliver is the anti Bait & Switch. When a prospect "bites" they get to eat the bait, no barbs on the hook & they can swim away if they choose. They get to meet us, get to see our facility and their car while being inspected to educate them if they desire.
If they go away with just cheap friction & labor, they go away informed and as though they were one of our best customers. (This has brought us tangible goodwill, including letters to the editor).
The only downside I’ve seen is those that drive by going "Must be a catch or must be bait & switch".
- January 3, 2007 at 12:15 pm #7412
10 inch digital picture frame on the front counter, you pop the card out of your camera and in seconds you can view the repair process start to finish that you shot pictures of and explain it to the customer things like where a timing belt is located and all the things involved in replacing it.
Usually 8 pics are enough to do a good job of explaining.
I also use it BEFORE the sale to explain what we are going to do if I have a similar file of snapshots, thumbdrive works great also. I love using mine, customers are blown away at what they see and realize that "it’s not that easy"; It solidifies your relationship with them in my opinion.
All for less than $250 delivered.
- January 4, 2007 at 11:20 pm #7413
Hal Lewis wrote:
> 10 inch digital picture frame on the front counter, you pop the card out of your camera and in seconds you can view the repair process start to finish that you shot pictures of and explain it to the customer things like where a timing belt is located and all the things involved in replacing it.
> Usually 8 pics are enough to do a good job of explaining.
> I also use it BEFORE the sale to explain what we are going to do if I have a similar file of snapshots, thumbdrive works great also. I love using mine, customers are blown away at what they see and realize that "it’s not that easy"; It solidifies your relationship with them in my opinion.
> All for less than $250 delivered.
This is a very cool idea! Who takes the pics…tech or service advisor or someone else?
5355 Plainfield Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
- January 5, 2007 at 12:09 pm #7414
Usually I do but everyone has access to the digital camera devoted to this project. Just pop out the card and insert it into the digital frame.
- January 5, 2007 at 7:41 pm #7415
I’ll give it six months or a year, so the price will come down 90%. Til then the LCD’s on the counter work fine & even then we don’t really get much WOW value out of it.
It seems like most of our clients don’t want to know much more than that we solved their problem.
Kinda like my doctor asking if I wanted to see video of my knee surgery. No thanks.
Some people would be fascinated, but I’d wager most wouldn’t be beyond the cool technology thingy.
- April 18, 2007 at 5:29 pm #7452
I saw an idea online that I thought was good.
If you have a shop vehicle, or other vehicle with your business inforamation on it, add some magnetic business cards. That way if people see your vehicle parked somewhere they can grab a card if they are interested. Better than writting down your information on a piece of paper they will probably use.
We also added some magnetic business cards to our door so if we are not open someone can still grab a card.
There is a website that also makes a card holder, like the plastic ones on your desk, with a little lid that attaches to your vehicle.
- May 2, 2007 at 4:02 pm #7460
2,000 black business sized envelopes 4 1/8 x 9 1/2 Embossed in Silver or Gold with printed return address for $227.86 including shipping. Just received them today and they are really cool. http://www.actionenvelope.com
Also just ordered 1,000 plastic business cards. They are same size as a credit card in full color. Have logo, my photo, address tag line, phone number etc. Cost for complete card including art setup, cards, printing and shipping came to $681.00. Simply classy. www.duracard.com Hopefully will entice people to hang on to it rather than pitch it when they clean out their pockets at night.
Hope this helps add to the list.
- May 6, 2007 at 10:38 pm #7461
The best marketing idea for any small business is the "Pre-paid" gift card. Loyalty cards are another useful idea. Around Christmas we all see the big companies advertizing their gift cards. That is because gift cards bring in immpediate cash and only about 1/2 of them are ever redeemed by the receiver. Loyalty cards and prepaid gift cards are made available to customes, frequent customers and new customers..
For example, buying an oil change in advance or for a specific day of the week, means you have the cash in hand before you give the service. They could also be sold which allows for "appointment" business. Discounts can begiven and a loyalty can be given when a certain price of business has been reached.
You should always market the availability of the cards on your counters and on your doors. If you have a web site, offering them there or being used to buy a service there will offer discounts. you the owner can run the numbers on this idea, and I’d can send you the matrix to do it.
The customer always keeps the card in their wallet/purse ( with your design on it) and they know they get better rates coming to you or calling you if they have a problem.
Seriously this is a great method, lower cost thay yellow page ads, newspaper ads and trackable. You see where you are getting your business. When you issue them you can get valuable information, ie email address. Tools like AWeber can help you stay in front of the customer on email.
The cards run through certain credit card machines which keeps track of your costs. Gift and Loyalty card!!! great marketing idea, that’s why the big businesses use them.
- May 14, 2007 at 9:36 pm #7470
We were just picked for best of the Best by our local paper. If your paper does such a thing you should try it. The only thing we did was pull a ballet out of the paper and fill it out with our picks. There was probably 100 different types of business to pick from such as carwash’s, florist, ect and of course auto repair. We picked the business we liked and left the ballet on the counter. When customers asked about it we would asked them to pick us. They would have to get there own ballet from the paper we did not supply them.
What is nice about this alot of free adds from paper come with being chosen. Of course they want to to pay for some also but it is not mandated.
If your paper does such a thing check it out. Also the business section lets you put in free announcment’s such as new training you just write the script.
- May 22, 2007 at 4:14 pm #7472
This won’t cost less than $1,000.00 per year for many but……We have been giving away a rose to every customer through the door and they are raving about it. Seems to be a bit of a "pick me upper". The ladies love it and the guys take one home to wife, daughter, mother girlfriend etc. I have a bunch delivered. They bring them in water with the preservative in it and they also provide the little plastic thingy with water in it to transport it and keep it alive for a while until home in a vase. All this for the whopping total of $1.00 a piece. Like I said, might be more than $1,000.00, but so far it is worth the $1.00 each because of the response. Way better than the time we took to clean the font two windows, windshield and dashboard and vacuum the carpet. Rarely got feedback on that.
- May 23, 2007 at 4:35 pm #7473
That’s a good idea… I heard about another shop near us that does Ladies Day once a week. They are a repair shop and a gas station, so any lady that comes in on that day, for gas or service, gets a free rose. I don’t know how well it works for the repair side of the business, but I was told that many women wait to get gas until Ladies Day, so they must really enjoy getting that rose!
PS. I like the idea of low cost marketing ideas, but I am very interested in ideas like this too. They may cost more than 1,000 a year, but per customer I would still consider it low cost. Thanks for adding to the list.
- July 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm #13397
GREAT post, I enjoyed reading everyone’s responses to this marketing question. Many great ideas of smaller trinket items that can be given away but used or kept as a promotional piece (e.g. magnet, biz card..rose!)
- July 17, 2013 at 11:29 am #13410
I have had some success with a brand specific letter to current customers for timing belt replacement. I print a report based on say Honda owners, with about 100,000 miles. The letter covers timing belt basics, why to consider “the complete job”, and includes a 2 offers, 1 for just the belt, and 1 for the whole thing. I recently did Honda owners and had about 8% booked appointment rate. 2 were just based on time. ( 1 car only had about 35,000 miles on it, but was 13 years old. He understood the time requirement and scheduled accordingly)
This letter is printed on company letterhead. I hand write the customers name and sign every one. I still have several car makers to do, but will probably continue this based on its current success. We have gotten a few calls saying that they no longer own the car, or had it done already. We make a note in their file.
This is a great thread!
- August 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm #13480
Has anyone had success with Angie’s list?
- September 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm #13513
In 25 years, I have tried many things and spent a lot of money. The things that seem to be effective currently are:1.Google AdWords(expensive)2.Reward Points(can be as cheap or expensive as you want, but only cost you if more work is purchased),3. A credit for referrals(again as cheap or expensive as you want but you get a new customer, and the customer with the credit will have to come back to your shop to use the credit).4. A tag drawing(once a month we send out a newsletter with 5 tag numbers drawn from our database. The first customer to call with one of the tags gets a gift certificate to use at our shop. This keeps customers reading our newsletters and gives them some urgency to read it.)5. General Customer Relationship Management. A follow up thank you call, a service reminder email and letter, a call if we have not seen the customer in a given period of time.I consider 2-5 low cost as you can decide what to offer, and most of it costs you very little if a customer does not return for work.Scott
- May 18, 2016 at 10:56 am #14536
Site Administrator / Forum ModeratorKeymaster
First, we wanted to bring attention to this thread from the past because it contains some great information and many of you are likely to have more great information to add.Second, here are some other Marketing related discussions that you may find helpful – click on the title of the discussion to view it:
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Next, we want to let you know that we have searched the net and put together a Marketing and Advertising Directory page that lists over 30 companies who offer marketing and advertising specifically for auto repair shops. Click here to view.Finally, here are links to ten articles we have written to help you with marketing – click on the title of the article to view it:
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