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Home Forums Marketing For Auto Repair Shops Many little things can make a big difference

  • Many little things can make a big difference

    Posted by rhopp on February 7, 2012 at 4:08 am

    Something I did tonight, upon seeing an e-mail appointment request from our website system.

    The prospect was new to the area “Looking for my new garage”.

    I created a canned response for new clients to go with our canned response for existing clients. (We use Gmail’s with Cars for Keeps in the name, ie: c4krob@gmail.com). Most e-mail systems offer canned responses or signatures of some sort.

    If you want to see our website appointment form, I’ll make you work for it by not linking directly here, though not too hard.

    Here is this new one:


    Hello _____,

    I have a slot set for your service at 10am. If you need a different or more specific time, please advise.

    We look forward to the opportunity of earning your business. To assist in our effort to serve you promptly and accurately, would you take a moment to provide some basic (or extensive as you wish) information about your vehicle and needs?

    1. Year, Make and Model:

    2. Preference in oil grade: __ Manufacturer specified oil

    grade/weight. __ Other specific weight. __ Synthetic. __ High


    3. Driving habits: __ Short Sprint (5-15k per year), __ Highway (15-

    25k per year), __ Road Warrior (more than 25k per year).

    4. Do you: __ Prefer to wait. __ Need a lift. __ Need alternate

    vehicle. __ Can leave vehicle most times.

    5. Best way to contact you while your vehicle is here.

    Any other comments?

    Goals for ownership of this vehicle?


    His response (within a few minutes)

    Thanks for the quick reply.

    10am works great.

    1. 2007 Chevy cobalt.

    2. Manufacturer specified oil.

    3. about 15k/year, mostly 55mph highway.

    4. prefer to wait if under an hour. need ride home (in GH) if more

    than an hour.

    5. best contact, cell, 231.xxx.xxxx.

    This vehicle is pushing 100k miles and will need appropriate 100k

    mileage service soon. we would like to have the vehicle about 4 more

    years, to at least 150k miles…



    Here’s another one.

    We upped our service request rate at the new store quite a bit by tweaking our phone systems auto attendant copy (verbage), moving the choice for that store from position 2 to position 1.

    (ie: Press 1 for Spring Lake, Press 2 for Grand Haven).

    We also added simple text to the beginning of the greeting. “The Tri-Cities ONLY Triple A Approved Garage”

    Do you have any little things that have helped?

    It helped me just to ponder some of the others we’ve put in place over the years.

    dougfentiman replied 12 years, 1 month ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Tom

    February 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm


    Can you post some links for what you are describing so we can do a “test drive”.

    It would help me reply better.


  • rhopp

    February 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Hopefully my updated original is now more clear. Only “link” would be to

    our appointment page.

    If anyone wants the text to our auto-replies, send me e-mail.

  • rhopp

    February 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Another one. Thanks to Tom & others.

    Our business hours can be read from the road. We had our vinyl guy make

    them in a straight forward font, large enough to be read from the street,

    then placed them, not at eye level on the door, but at eye level from a

    prospect seated in a car, then made sure they were visible at night.

  • dougfentiman

    March 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Speaking of tips and signs, I am always surprised at businesses that do not include their website address on their signs. And if they do have it listed, it is more of an afterthought squeezed in at the bottom in small font rather than being as prominent as the phone number.

    If you consider the sales process prospective new customers are more likely to check out your website than make that first phone call. Psychologically, initially checking you out by looking at your website is safer than speaking to you and enduring the inevitable sales pitch. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to make that first step in becoming a customer! So your website address should be readable from a passing vehicle.

    And your website address should be easy to remember (at least memorable enough to last to the next stop light so they can write it down..). If your domain name is a nasty, long beast, e.g. “www.joesfabulousautorepairandtire.com” there is no way they will remember it. In place of a long domain name you can use a second short, catchy (memorable) domain name that redirects to your main website. Using a different domain name on your sign will also allow you to track hits resulting from your sign (can also be used in other forms of marketing similar to using different phone numbers).

    Hyphenated domains are also much easier to read and remember. And using common words related to your shop or location is also good (e.g. “Joes-Auto-Repair.com”, “Brown-Street-Auto.com”, etc).

    Using camelcase text is better, but not as good as a hyphenated domain (e.g. “JoesFabulousAutoRepairAndTire.com”).

    Another tip is to not use the “www” portion of the domain. It just adds unnecessary clutter on the sign and is not needed (your web server should be set to redirect ‘non-www’ to ‘www’ URL (or vice versa) anyways if your webmaster knows what they are doing…)

  • dougfentiman

    May 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Matthew Lee wrote:

    > I don’t want to take the wind out of your sails,

    Matthew: we are all here to help each other so no need to poke me in the eye.. ;-)

    but the only caution

    > I typically advise about hyphenated domain names is that if you have

    > to give somebody the address in a conversation or over the phone, it

    > becomes cumbersome. You have to include all the ‘dashes’ and that can

    > be confusing to some. (People ask if that’s the forward slash or stuff

    > like that – also depends on the user) But if you’re using it on a

    > sign, you’re right, it is probably easier to remember.


    > For long names, although not too common, another good idea is to break

    > the names or words up using different colors. It makes those long

    > names almost instantly identifiable.

    I should have made it clearer that the hyphenated domain name would be second domain name that is only used on signs or vehicles and redirects to the main domain name. Research shows that from a distance black on white text (high contrast) with domain name words separated by dashes are far easier to read, and remember, than any other form.. even color.

    > One last matter is the issue of Mobile Websites. With the overwhelming

    > use of smart phones (I saw a stat that claims there are about 3-4x as

    > many web-enabled smart phones as desk top computers in the world) you

    > really need to rethink your web presence. Yes, you need a regular

    > website. But in most cases, they are not easy to read on an iPhone

    > screen. Above that, your mobile site doesn’t need as much info. You

    > can create a site with just the facts, ma’am… just the facts. Then

    > include a link to the regular site (and vica versa) so that you’re

    > not making mobile users load huge pages (that they won’t wait for

    > anyway).

    Everyone is ramping up the spin on mobile but like any business decision you really need to look at the numbers and see if it will benefit your particular case. Before spending on a mobile site check your website usage stats and see just how many of your users are using a mobile device. From what I am seeing the percentage of mobile visitors is quite low (<10% average) and a quality built website works fine for the person just looking for your phone number. The only clients I have that justified a dedicated mobile site were located near university/colleges or high tech business parks and had mobile use pushing +40% of website visitors. Any business decision should be based on numbers not the latest fad… also, by the time you truely need mobile functionality, separate mobile sites will be obsolete due to standard websites being able to automatically adapt to the device they are being viewed with. That is available now and should be common in 1-2 years.

    By all means if your usage numbers support it a dedicated mobile site will see your page views and time on site numbers go way up for mobile users. Also, your website should detect the device the users is landing on your website with and automatically redirect them to the mobile site. Making mobile users download your full size homepage and hunt for a link to your mobile website is a show stopper.

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