Top 5 Auto Repair Shop Marketing Ideas

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As you well know, the auto repair industry is incredibly competitive. If you’re not constantly staying on top of your shop marketing efforts, it is all too easy to fall by the wayside, giving your competitors the edge you don’t want them to have.

How do you build a profitable business, keep your customers coming back again and again, and stay on top? There are many ways to market your services, but if you’re not using the right techniques, you could be wasting your time. Let’s take a look at five auto repair shop marketing ideas that can help you find new customers, keep your current customers and skyrocket your business.

Leverage the Power of Social Networking

Word-of-mouth advertising is still king in the automotive repair marketing world, and what better way to leverage this than by using social networking. If you haven’t done so already, create a Facebook page and start actively promoting it. If necessary, offer a special coupon to those who “like” your profile. Start using services like Twitter to get local customers interested in your business–share funny anecdotes and repair tips and tricks, and keep it light and fun. The goal here is to build genuine support, or likability.

Get Referrals

Want to keep your current customers happy and expand your business? Start using a frequently overlooked auto repair marketing technique and develop a referral program. Offer your existing customers a free oil change if they refer a friend, or give them a discount on their next auto repair job. In this business, you need to break through misconceptions about the industry in general, and having friends refer friends is an easy and effective way to do this. Of course, we automatically ask your customers for referrals as part of our automated customer review process.

Hold Regular Events

In order to improve your automotive service marketing efforts, you need to get people to your shop and you need to prove that you’ve got their best interests at heart. Hold a clinic that focuses on the need to winterize their vehicles, demonstrate what happens when vehicles aren’t properly maintained, or host regular customer appreciation events. Become active in your community and build a reputation that local customers can trust.

Here’s a great example: Ladies Night Crash Course, hosted by Shade Tree Auto in Grimes, Iowa. When you have these events, remember there will be current customers and potential new customers there. You want to make sure your staff makes a good impression and really builds rapport with the people that attend.

Auto Repair Shop Marketing Event

This is a great example of a community event that helps Shade Tree Auto find new auto repair customers.

Combine Your Advertising Tactics

If you’re not using a combined auto repair advertising strategy, you are missing out on building your customer base. It’s possible to use traditional marketing such as newspaper and radio ads, as well as incorporate social marketing and online marketing efforts, as long as you’re tracking the results carefully. For example, some of our successful customers run a single campaign across multiple kinds of advertising–radio, social media, their website, our New Customer Finder–and they even bring things like Groupon into the mix. The benefit to this approach is that you reach different groups of people with different media, and you make it easy for potential customers to respond because they have not just one, but many options and can choose to respond in whatever way is easiest for them. The data in your smrt™ report can help you decide which media will best reach high-value customers.

Get the Right Kind of Attention

Guerrilla marketing techniques are very effective for small auto repair shops and can help you get the attention you need. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your efforts. There are lots of ways that you can get the right kind of attention in your community. Keep it fun and intriguing, and you’ll keep your customers coming back just to see what you’ll do next. Here are some guerrilla auto repair marketing ideas to get you started.

Even though you may be the owner of a traditional brick-and-mortar retail shop, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to “traditional” auto repair marketing techniques. Put technology and creativity to work for you, and you’ll attract the kinds of customers your shop needs to succeed. The more you become active in social networking and local networking, the more potential customers you’ll reach.

Got ideas to share? Scroll all the way down and leave a response.

Want more ideas to market your shop? Get the free Shop Marketing Manual emailed to you every month.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out our free marketing tools.

You might also like:

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  3. How To Increase Car Count in 5 Minutes a Day

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28 Responses

  1. Love the referral program idea; that can generate a lot of business when done right. In line with customer appreciation idea, have you ever left a handwritten thank you note in the vehicle or sent one a day or two after service? I’ve not heard of anyone doing it, but I suspect that gesture could have a huge effect on customer loyalty and referrals.

    • Great idea Lori. For some of your best customers, that would be time well spent.

    • Hi Lori, Our repair shop sends handwritten thank you’s regularly to let our customers know that we appreciate their continued business. We enclose a $10 gift certificate as well. The gift certificates always come back to us! They come back more frequently than the gift certificates that people buy with their own money at school auctions.

  2. Hello All,

    I really like what you have going here. Lots of information on a lot of subjects that I find interesting.

  3. Guerrilla marketing techniques are very effective for small auto repair shops and can help you get the attention you need.

  4. Hello,
    I send a hand written thank you note to every customer that gets body work done at our shop. It shows that I appreciate their business in a more personal way :D

    • Great idea! That will definitely separate your shop from the pack.

  5. Hi, maybe it’s old fashioned but helped our mechanic shop few months ago. We printed nice flyers that I have given to my best customers, friends and family. I have offered free car wash and free detailed car check. 15% of flyers came back, and out of those 15%, atleast 50% did some work on their vehicle (not for free) after we did the check. We did not push them to do it, just made them some kind of planner of their future costs on the vehicle…I say again, maybe it’s old fashioned, but it worked for us

    • Hi, just wondering if you have any suggestions in marketing to fleet accounts :)

      • yeah, give a % to a person who’s in charge of it lol
        No idea really, I see no other way but to personally visit companies and make a nice offer. I am a great fan of direct marketing

      • I work at a car repair shop and I handled how to get more fleet accounts. Pretty much what I did was to go to the yellow pages or phone book and make a list of a bunch of companies who I could do fleet work for. Plumbing, contractors, excavating, concrete, construction, hvac. Anything like that. Once I had a list of all the companies I either called or I looked up online what the owners name was. Once I had all the owners names I sent out a personalized letter letting them know what I do and how I can better their company by making their fleet reliable and I hand signed all of them and said I would follow up within a few days. Enclosed in the letter I also enclosed few informal fliers. I sent out close to 80 letters and got a great response back. The reason why I sent the letter to the owner of the company is because if you just send it to the company most likely the secretary or whoever will throw it away. But if the letter can go directly to the owners desk you have a way better chance of getting a response. Hope this helps!

        • Heather- that sounds very time consuming! But that personal touch, especially if you followed-up on the letters with a phone call, probably goes a long way toward landing you more fleet accounts.

    • This is a fantastic idea and nowadays who doesn’t want a free car wash? I was thinking on including free car washes with a specific type of service done. For example, get free car wash when you get an oil change.

      • tnx
        that’s a good one

  6. I am loving all the ideas listed in the blog and comments. I have been looking for ways to market and promote our family owned operated automotive repair business. I love the referral program and the flyers idea about free car wash and free detailed car check. Another idea I thought about was creating a coupon for first time customers which states getting $10 off all service work. Maybe even holding a continental breakfast and prize drawing.

  7. Reading about the creative ways to engage your audience is inspiring–thank you for sharing this. There is an auto repair business near us that posts regularly to their Facebook page with a photo of a car driving by their business! If you are the car, and you respond, you win a prize. Great, fun way to keep people coming back and checking in. Esp like the referral program idea & handwritten note approach, very personalized in a not-so-personal age…I am trying to promote a very specialized type of automotive equipment and while using general PRs as a way to get the word out, I’m having trouble finding social networking for automotive people to target more a more qualified potential customer base. Any ideas? Would love to hear your thoughts.

  8. how about offer a free airbag system check with an oil change and a 21 point inspection. the airbag check will get the people in not knowing if the airbag light goes out its good, from there its up to your techs to up-sell. people are very concerned about safety these days.

    • Definitely love the free safety inspection idea! That gives customers a great service AND gives you an opportunity to sell…

      That’s an auto repair marketing match made in heaven! :)

  9. I have managed shops in the past. I have run in my garage side shops, But I am not venturing into my own shop without even having a current customer line. Some techniques that I am planning to use mostly came from corporate training from places like Midas and Aamco. One of the best that I have used in the past is the beginning of every week calling customers from the last 2 weeks of business to personally thank them and to make sure all was well. In my experience I can say 20-35% Returned within a week of two of the phone calls due to that phone call reminding them of something else they wanted done to their vehicle. And a good number of the call list would eventually become return customers. Also at one shop I worked at which was the absolute worst, we provided a free car was every time someone came in for any kind of service. That pleased even the most unhappy of customers. I like the thank you note idea and the referral program.

  10. I love the idea of in-person seminars, but not sure how likely my husband would be able to get customers to visit his shop for a tutorial after work or on weekends. We’ve done pretty well recording YouTube videos with tutorials. We’ve had two people visit our shop afterwatching one of my hubby’s tutorial videos and getting stuck or feeling overwhelmed. YouTube is a great resource in addition to Facebook. A website is super important too – I’m surprise this article didn’t harp on it more. If you don’t have a website for your shop, go over to, or any of the others to get a great looking site for cheap. A Facebook and YouTube page are great, but you look pretty silly in this day and age without a website. Great article! Thank you for posting!

    • Hi Lindsay- absolutely agreed. YouTube can be a powerful tool if you create videos that are truly helpful to your customers.

      And yes, a website is really a must have for every business nowadays. In some cases a free website is good enough. Sometimes though they can be less than professional, difficult to update and not include things like a version optimized for mobile devices. There are a ton of website providers out there though that make it easy and make your business look really professional. You can check out our auto repair websites here if you’re interested:

  11. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information… I will visit your blog regularly!

    • Thanks, Sharon! We are happy you enjoyed it.

  12. Great tips!

    • Thanks Bill. Let us know how it goes when you implement some of them!

  13. Thanks for sharing Susan. The referral program idea is best for us.

    • Thanks, Evli! We are happy you enjoyed it.

  14. You are doing great. I love this.

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