Our contributors explain how they use marketing as a tool to both generate and maintain business.
Managing Director, Autosupplies (Chesterfield)
Over the past few years, marketing and promoting Autosupplies is something we’ve dedicated more time to, and for us it’s really starting to pay off. We’ve also been shortlisted for and won several industry awards, which has helped raise our profile and generate a lot of new business.
Promoting your garage or factor business isn’t rocket science or a fine art, but it’s something business owners tend to struggle with as it demands their time, whether it’s managing their Twitter account or mailing out their latest promotions to their customer base. A useful avenue to go down is harnessing the power of the trade press by sending a press release with details about any promotions you’re running.
We’re using the professional services of a marketing and communications agency, which is helping to position us as a trusted name, not just with the public but also in the trade. While this requires a little investment, the returns can without doubt outweigh the costs.
Talking to our customers is really important to us, so it’s definitely worthwhile making that commitment – whether via social media or a monthly e-newsletter. We’ve also not been afraid of a bit of self-promotion. The customer has always been the priority for us; something that we’ve always stuck to as we’ve grown the business, and if you’re doing something right and doing it well, this is your unique sales proposition. It may sound like a cliché, but our message is simply that we love what we do, which comes across when we meet with or call our customers, which then extends to our marketing communications. Our website says: ‘You will find our enthusiasm is hard to match elsewhere’ and we resolutely stand by that.
Owners shouldn’t hide their light under a bushel and be afraid of a bit of self- promotion if their business is doing well or customers are giving positive feedback.
People want to know where and how they will receive good, old-fashioned customer service. It’s something that gets overlooked by too many businesses nowadays and custom is often taken for granted. It’s the lifeblood of any business.
Proprietor, Scotlands Ash Garage
I’d say one thing a garage business needs to do in terms of marketing is first and foremost, get the basics right. Our website has been updated so it doesn’t look prehistoric, it’s easy for visitors to navigate around and it demonstrates clearly what our offering is. Some garages don’t even have a website, so I’d strongly recommend they have some form of an online presence, even if it’s just a Facebook page.
Scotlands Ash Garage is a family-run business, and what makes us stand out is that we’re honest and add value through our expertise. Transparency with our customers is key; they know exactly what they’re paying for and what the problem is, but above all, we go that extra step with advice.
Demonstrating your expertise as a garage business or an individual is a hugely effective marketing tool. For instance, a customer may have booked in their vehicle for an MOT or service, but can you upsell with a TerraClean, DPF clean or air-con re-gas?
Modern life is placing more demands on people, so what we’ve done is respond to that and become as flexible as we can be to accommodate today’s customers. We’re open from 6.30am for MOTs and we offer a guaranteed courtesy car with every service; we reckon we own the largest courtesy car fleet in Oxfordshire.
This is something we’re particularly proud of, and as a result, our business is growing, with new customers coming in all the time. It shows that providing an extra service like this can make all the difference – it’s all about boosting the customer experience.
Some garage businesses might want to consider being less rigid with their opening times. It’s a business opportunity waiting to be seized as there will always be the need for services outside the normal working hours. Also, let people know you’re extending your hours – either via social media, an advert in the local paper or via e-newsletter to your customer database.
Every garage should have a human touch; it can be harnessed to great effect through some simple marketing.