You may be tired after a long day at the shop, but the work doesn’t stop if you want to get more business. Being involved in your community is an essential part of being a business owner or shop manager; therefore you must put your “marketing” hat on after hours. Not every night, but at least once a week, you should seek local events to participate in. Where? When? Why?
Exposure to new customers and acquisition is a never-ending cycle. Consider partnering with your local Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, SBDC (Small Business Development Corp), or find groups on www.meetup.com that relate to your line of work. You can also find women’s networking organizations or join BNI (Business Network International), which is another great way to forge lasting relationships with new, prospective clients.
The reason is simple. People are more likely to do business with someone they know and trust, so this is a great way to get to know the people who are most likely to use your services. It is inevitable that everyone needs an auto shop at some time, so even if they do not need it today, tomorrow or next week, when their car does break down, you will be the first person they think of. This is also true when giving referrals. Those people you meet at networking groups are like having a mini sales team out selling your auto repair services on your behalf. Everyone knows someone, so if a friend or coworker suddenly sees their “check engine” light come on, then your acquaintance is most likely to recommend you.
It does take a lot of effort to participate in these networking events, but the payoffs outweigh the hassle. You should combine this with your social media efforts, such as Facebook Events, etc. and consider hosting an event at your shop. Some shop owners would never dream of doing this – mainly because of the condition or appearance of the shop – but this will give you a great excuse to clean.
To host a successful networking event, you should send press releases, post the event on your website, and this will give you a great excuse to send email blasts to all of your existing clients. If possible, you could invite the radio station and hold a remote radio broadcast with giveaways and door prizes. Cater the event with some snacks and drinks, people will definitely come for that reason alone.
Most importantly, the community business leaders can get to know you and then you will have a whole new type of clientele that will come to know your business. Auto service shops do not often do these types of events, so your small shop will stand out and make a great impression within your community. Before you know it, you’ll have more business than you can handle! And that’s not such a bad thing…