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Auto body shop marketing: 10 strategies for your auto repair business

February 19, 2020
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
February 19, 2020 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

This article was updated on February 2, 2022

If you own and operate an auto repair shop, you likely have so many tasks on your plate that local marketing often takes the back seat. While this mindset is understandable, you do your auto shop and yourself a disservice by not investing the time necessary to keep bringing in new customers and incentivizing current customers to return to the garage.

As states have eased COVID restrictions, you may be reopening your business for the first time in months. Now is the perfect time to start investing in your auto repair shop marketing initiatives.

The good news is there are many low-cost ways to increase brand awareness and bring in more customers to your auto repair company. With a little bit of planning to create the right auto repair marketing strategy, you can ensure you're continually driving customers to the shop simply and inexpensively.

Wondering how to take the first step in making auto repair business ads that work? Keep on reading.

10 auto repair marketing ideas to grow local business

As you might imagine, there are a variety of marketing ideas and strategies available at your fingertips.While online digital marketing is often very effective, traditional approaches certainly have their place as well. Developing a marketing plan before jumping in helps ensure your target market is accounted for and helps you identify how your auto body shop can best benefit from your marketing budget. Here are 10 ideas to consider for your marketing plan


1. List your business on Nextdoor

If you're looking to use auto repair advertising ads that work, start by promoting your auto service shop on Nextdoor. As the neighborhood hub, Nextdoor is one of the most effective ways to advertise your business for free online. Claim your free Business Page to begin connecting with locals. Nextdoor neighbors have verified residents that live in proximity to each other and your business location. This creates a unique community built on trust and authenticity and allows you direct access to your target market.

On Nextdoor, existing customers can recommend your garage, and you, in turn, can promote your local auto repair service or others that you partner with. You can also inform your customers about any reopening schedule changes or show them how you are adapting your normal business to make everyone feel safe and healthy while visiting your shop. As a verified business, you have the opportunity to share promotions and deals, network with other local auto repair services, and get direct messages from your local customers.


2. Create a website

Being a business owner in the digital age, if you don't have a website (or if you do and it's difficult to navigate), then you're missing out on a huge opportunity to reach customers. Establishing a digital presence lets you connect with locals in your neighborhood even before they step foot into your garage. Making a good digital impression is key here.

To do this, your website should be:

  • Easy to navigate - The website doesn't need to have a bunch of bells and whistles. Everything should be focused on selling your garage and staff and moving customers down the sales funnel.
  • Informational - Be sure to include all of the important details and relevant information that customers look for, including:
    • Shop info
    • Pictures
    • Services
    • About us
    • Blog page
    • Promotions
    • Social media links (Facebook, Instagram, etc)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) - To be relevant, you'll want your small business to show up at the top of search results for any potential customer. Creating a Google My Business account allows your business to be found more easily through search engines and listed on google maps, greatly improving your local SEO. Try to include keywords, photo meta descriptions, and all the data that Google's search engine algorithm depends on to match search queries with desired results.

3. Employ email marketing campaigns

If your customers provide you with their email, you have an opportunity to reach them with a very pointed marketing campaign. While you want to avoid over-communicating with email after email, you want to make an effort to send relevant and useful information such as a service reminder or a temporary deal or promotion. According to Outbound Engine :

Email newsletters are the best way to stay in front of your customers. Rather than sending email newsletters that do nothing but promote your business or ask customers to promote your business, send emails that entertain or inform your audience. Content marketing through email is a great way to keep your existing loyal customers engaged without selling to them. 90% of consumers find custom content useful, and 78% believe that businesses that deliver custom content want to build a good relationship with them.

4. Start a blog

A well-done blog not only helps your website's SEO and search rankings but allows you to connect with local customers and establish your authority as an expert within the auto repair industry. Creating a blog is one of the best ways to advertise your small business. Ideally, you want to post about once or twice a week and then mix up the content by creating keyword-rich related articles that are informative and helpful to both car enthusiasts and laymen alike. Types of content might include:

By providing direct value and driving visitors to your website, you create a readership that keeps coming back for more. Expert content builds trust, especially when it comes time for readers to trust you with their car(s). This also gives you additional auto repair shop marketing opportunities wherein you can talk about specials or remind them about services they need to stay on top of. Plus, if you have any items for sale at your store, a blog creates the perfect arena to market and sell those products online.

5. Drive engagement through social media marketing ideas

Social media is a powerful marketing tool that not only increases new customer leads and engagement but creates transparency between you and any existing customer. Sharing photos of events, posting employee appreciation, or giving maintenance tips on social media allows customers to have insight to how you conduct business and the customer service to expect at your auto repair shop.

The various social media channels give you the chance to present customers with engaging and informative content. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, but Instagram is especially helpful on the social media advertising and service front. Be sure to post consistently and mix things up. Content worth posting might include:

  • High-quality photos and videos of the garage and services
  • Before and after photos
  • Car maintenance advice
  • Promotions, specials, coupons
  • Local car events and shows
  • Customer reviews
  • Driver safety tips

In addition, offer rewards for customer engagement or user-generated content. Encourage customers to check-in, write a recommendation on Nextdoor, post on social media, or refer your business to others in exchange for discounts, deals, or chances to win a prize.

6. Host a YouTube channel

Similar to your blog, if you create a YouTube channel, you have the chance to demonstrate your automotive knowledge to customers as a shop owner. By posting explanatory videos to both YouTube and embedding them on your website, you give potential customers free expertise. In exchange, they're far more receptive to your advertising efforts. Plus, you can indirectly promote your services by highlighting services or repairs that require an in-person inspection.

7. Host events

There are several ways you can build a sense of community and get locals to act as brand ambassadors on your behalf. If you want your garage to be part and parcel to the local neighborhood, you need to be a contributing member of that community. As an auto repair shop, you have skills and expertise that many people find valuable. Hosting events gives you a fantastic opportunity to impart your knowledge to others and establish trust. Examples of this might include:

  • Auto enthusiast clubs
  • Seminars about car maintenance
  • Information meetings
  • Hands-on walkthroughs for simple services such as changing your oil

8. Coupon advertising

Coupons are a low-cost, high-exposure auto repair shop marketing idea that engages both prospects and repeat customers. Such coupons could be listed in local papers or on Nextdoor as Local Deals. Examples include:

  • Discount oil change
  • Overall bill reduction
  • Free service with another type of service
  • A dollar amount off of a specific service

Whatever you settle on, let customers know the value they will get with your deal. . Even if it's only a few dollars off, they will be more likely to engage if they think they're saving money.

9. Partner with other local businesses

It's every bit as important for you to build relationships with other businesses-both competitors and non-competitors alike-as it is to connect with customers. Although you may be chafe at the notion, you'd be amazed by how successful a referral from another expert can be.

Say, perhaps, that your shop specializes in a type of auto repair but lacks the tools, tech, or staff to perform a certain service. You could easily create an arrangement with another shop wherein you both recommend customers to check out the other shop should the need arise.


10. Direct repair programs (DRP) and buy lists 

Realized or not, a significant part of most auto body shop marketing plans is involvement with a direct repair program. Shops are sent referrals through an agreement with insurance agencies. This of course comes with a fee which can be significant. While convenient, it is worth considering what alternative marketing approaches could be accomplished with the typical DRP funds. Following up on local accident reports lists is one to consider. For a small fee, your local community should provide you a list of incident reports. Getting ahead of the insurance agencies by contacting involved parties to help with repairs may prove fruitful in securing prospective clients.


Reopening your auto shop post COVID-19

Businesses everywhere were forced to close down in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. If the lockdown impacted your business, you may be afraid of what the future holds. However, with our current landscape improving, now is the perfect time to invest in marketing ideas and ad campaign initiatives.

There are effective ways to engage both new customers and returning customers for little to no cost. Whether it be claiming your business page to boost your online presence, or hosting car maintenance seminars to engage your local customers in person, you have the ability to reach local residents and establish yourself as a lasting member of the community. Keep these marketing tips in mind as you reopen your local auto shop.

Claim Your free business page

Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.

Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting business, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook

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