Ensuring Your Auto Repair Target Market is Based in the Real World

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In this guide from Conceptual Minds’ expert auto repair marketers at, you’ll learn how to use your shop’s natural appeal to find like-minded auto repair target markets. 

Conceptual Minds | November 10, 2022

Find Your Auto Repair Shop’s Target Market in 5 Steps

Running a business means making friends with uncertainty; what will tomorrow bring, where is the industry going, have I tapped my local market, or are there additional auto repair target markets I’ve yet to capture? 

Your future customers are the biggest mystery of all. You don’t need a crystal ball to know they’re out there—right this second—but you won’t know who they are, what they’re like, or what they have in common—until you meet them. 

If only you could find them, you know you have what it takes to turn a fair share into loyal customers

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer; not even palm readers can divine this kind of intel. But, provided you take a systematic approach to find new auto repair target markets, you can gather enough info to shine a spotlight on the driver’s living in the nooks and crannies of your service area. 

As seasoned auto repair experts, we regularly perform extensive customer research to find customer groups our clients didn’t know existed. We’d love nothing more than to share a bit of our process with auto repair owners. Follow along with our step-by-step guide to learn what you gain from targeting, how to leverage your shop’s appeal to find complementary audiences.

Why Single Out an Auto Repair's Target Market to Begin With?

Photo by Vitolda Klein

Many assume it’s best to leave your target market undefined. The thinking goes, keeping your options open helps you stay compatible with a much bigger audience. 

And we get it–why take the time to laser focus on a smaller group when there’s a far bigger one waiting to be served?

Ultimately, it’s the same reason why you can’t catch a shark with fish bait. Your messaging must speak directly to them. Doing that means using a prospect lure that reflects their values, needs, and preferences. Since you can’t entice one group without turning off others, auto repair shops succeed when they draw multiple narrow slices of their market using messaging customized to appeal to similarly-minded people.

And there are many more benefits where that came from. On top of the added attractive power, considering your auto repair shop’s target market nets you even more benefits. Those include:

  • Cost efficiency: Every ad campaign or promotion has a cost associated with it; keep that cost low—on a per-acquisition basis—and you can bet on profitable promotions. Maybe you want to try and target families, or you would like to attract those who drive specific types of cars. Targeting and promotions should appeal to that group. 
  • Getting more high-value customers: Targeting isn’t just about saving money by nixing the uninterested groups; you’re also trying to find the customers who keep your business afloat. Since most companies rely on a relatively small portion of their customer base for most of their revenue, the most interested customers are worth the work involved. 
  • Finding underserved markets: Filling in gaps in the marketplace is a great way to ensure the long-term success of your auto repair business. Since the process of targeting is like a master’s course in customer behavior, you might uncover underserved audiences—a real opportunity to expand or add a new location. You might find that there’s not a lot of shops that are serving a specific vehicle type (Saab for example), so it might make sense to target and market to that group of vehicle owners.
  • Re-evaluate your service offerings: Getting a firmer grip on your current customers’ wants, and needs can lead you to discover alternate services, products, or benefits that will bring more traffic to your store. For example: if your shop is located in a metropolitan area, you should focus on users who are seeking a very convenient shop that makes it very easy to do business with them. Offer a shuttle bus, uber service, or maybe upgrade your waiting area to help remote workers conduct business—and do so in comfort and quiet. 
  • Reveal weaknesses in pricing strategy: Researching your local market’s economic background may reveal factors preventing prospects from accessing your services, or you may find you have room to raise rates. 

1. Defining Your Auto Repair Shop’s Target Market: Begin With Your Shop’s Appeal

Photo by cottonbro

How do you begin finding new auto repair shop target markets that are thrilled about what makes your shop different? 

By looking at your shop’s current services, the features of those services, and, more importantly, the benefits that make them interested in your business.

Let’s be clear on what exactly we mean by features and benefits. Features are marketable aspects of your services and products– repair guarantees, a free vacuum service with every oil, and shuttle service are all great examples. Benefits are the things that customers find valuable. .  These benefits can be tangible—like money saved or a free rotation with an oil change— or intangible—like less time spent in a waiting room or peace of mind from greater safety.

Between the two, benefits motivate people far more than features. Keep that in mind as we move from dreaming up potential new audiences to vetting their fit for your services (after which, we’ll gather some light intelligence to find which shared characteristics your messaging should focus on).

2. Sort Your Auto Shop’s Target Market into Definable Segments

Photo by cottonbro

Targeting is always a careful balance of audience size and quality. You must cast your net wide enough to contain like-minded potential supporters while narrow enough to move them to doing business with you by appealing to their personal characteristics.

The process of sorting larger groups into smaller target groups is called segmentation.  

How small, exactly? 

It depends on:

  • The characteristics you use to divide them (Marital status, income range, model ownership rates)
  • The volume of data you have on them (Whether you know enough about them)
  • Whether each group is large enough to justify targeting in the first place

Each group will need to be addressed with different messaging, promotions, and marketing channels. It will also help you customize your advertising to reach and exceed your customers’ expectations.

After ruling out people who can’t access or afford your services, compare motivating characteristics to identify those most likely to buy.

3. Use Geographic Data to Find Your Auto Repair Shop’s Target Market

Photo by Engin Akyurt

Our next step involves finding the attributes the members of this mysterious auto repair target market share. You need to know whether they can afford or access your repair shop before you reach out.

Start by looking at the total population of your coverage area. Let’s say I’m running an auto repair shop near Conceptual Minds HQ in Arlington, VA. And for the sake of our example, let’s assume my coverage area does not extend beyond Arlington’s borders. 

By locating our local government’s commercial demographic info, I find that the total population is 200,000, in 116,248 households.

But residents aren’t the only people who spend time in Arlington. As a mid-sized city on the outskirts of Washington, DC, it’s a hub of business activity, drawing many commuters from the city limits of DC and the broader area. 

Looking at another page, I learned that Arlington’s resident civilian labor force is bigger than the town’s population; 155,891 in 2020.

Of course, some Arlington residents commute within the city for work, and we don’t want to double-count them. According to the city, 26 percent of residents travel within Arlington for their jobs. So, we remove 26% from 155,891 and have 115,359 workers. In total, we have 155,891 residents.

Now that we have our total, it’s time to carve out our audiences.

4. Making Use of Demographic Data to Further Narrow Your Auto Repair Shop’s Target Market

Photo by cottonbro

Knowing the total number of households and Arlington commuters only gets us so far. Without knowing much about the area, it’s difficult to say how many of these households are worth targeting.

So, again, we go to the city of Arlington’s site for more information about our service area to look for car ownership data. 

After a bit of research, I find out the following:

  • Each Arlington household contains 1.3 vehicles on average
  • 51% of households have more than one vehicle
  • 28% of households have two vehicles
  • 8% have three or more

Doing a little math, we find that Arlington residents own 202,658 cars. Most drive to work, but a smaller portion commute to Arlington do so by passenger rail. We won’t be seeing them in our waiting room; let’s assume one-third commute via public transportation, 76,905 cars.

Subtracted from our previous total, we now have 279,563 in our area. 

But our qualifying isn’t done yet. We don’t know what kind of cars this population has, how old they are, or if how many can afford our services. 

We find the median household income is $119,755—significantly higher than the national average ($70,784 in 2021). 

5. Using Beliefs & Behavior to Find Marketable Commonalities Between Customers

Photo by cottonbro

Targeting auto repair audiences isn’t just about identifying suitable groups of prospects; you’re also shooting to find the most reliable ways to get them interested. 

The best way to do that is to know your local audience intimately. Not only their repair needs, but their personality, lifestyle, shared hobbies, values, and shopping behavior. Consumers frequently choose products and services based on shared values. How well your shop reflects their nature, go see and experience.

Whether they see your shop as the right option for them might depend on whether your offering meets their needs and expectations. But how do you learn what your prospects think and value?

Ask them yourself.

You can conduct customer surveys to learn more about their lives and interests and what makes them stay loyal. 

Ask them:

  • What is the most common thing you do in this community?
  • Where do you spend most of your time? What are your hobbies?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?
  • What compelled you to seek out our services? 
  • Do you make preventative visits, or seek out repair services as needed?

Insights you’ll find here can give you compelling angles for marketing campaigns. For instance, we once discovered that a client’s customer base had more in common than we first realized—a surprising amount were avid golfers. 

We next ran ads at and around the area’s major golf institutions—to great success.

Never Stop Finding Your Auto Repair Shop’s Target Market

Much like learning and maturing, you should be upgrading your targeting efforts for the natural lifespan of your business. You may know a lot about your customers already—certainly more once you take a systematic approach—but there’s always more to learn about people and what motivates them. 

All of the above takes time and effort. Of course, you can take the time to do so yourself or if you prefer to speed up the time, the master marketers at Conceptual Minds can help! Give us a call.

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