Auto Repair Shop Sign Guide

Wiygul Sign Outside

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In our expert guide to auto repair retail sign creation, we’ll explain the unique advantages of signs, the ideal use for various sign types, and we’ll walk you through the creation of visuals and language.

Conceptualminds | September 7, 2022

Auto Repair Shop Sign Guide

Wiygul Outdoor Signage

It’s hard to say which of our five senses is “strongest,” yet few of us can imagine living in a world without vision.

Where are you? Are you in the right place? Going the right way? How would you know if you got there?

When in doubt, we look around, instinctively. We look for prompts, signs, from our environment that tell us what to expect.

  • I’m in an auto repair waiting room so my job is to hang out quietly until it’s over.
  • I’m at my desk at work so I should at least have my email app opened.
  • I’m halfway through an online checkout process, do I need to take out my wallet or does this browser have my card data saved?

In a way, signs are a vital crutch for our most pressing questions and concerns. 

It’s this dependent and interactive relationship that makes retail signage so powerful at drawing traffic and growing customers.

 

Auto Repair Shop Signage

Sign Photo

In the era of wildly sophisticated marketing breakthroughs, signs remain an absolutely vital marketing tool.

Why?

Because they’re still necessary, and they still work.

We trust signs to give us vital information about where we are and what our options are—whether we’re on the road, on the hunt for a restaurant bathroom, or looking for the right grocery store aisle.

Auto repair signs help by:

  • Attracting foot traffic: The simple fact is, without multiple clear, prominent, and memorable auto repair signs, you can be sure that potential customers are passing you by unaware. In fact, research from the Sign Research Foundation discovered that as many as 61% of US consumers failed to find a business because its sign was too small or unclear. Effective auto shop signage makes your presence unmistakable.
  • Increasing sales: A well placed mechanic shop sign can make a tremendous dent in yearly customer count. As noted in Ratchet & Wrench Magazine, auto repair shop owner Bill Gurney’s 39-inch by 90-inch digital LED auto repair sign brought in a 64 percent yearly boost in new customers (Paying for itself within months).
  • Pursuing people on the fence: Signs can deliver succinct and compelling sales messages that force readers to consider the benefits of changing their auto repair service provider. Adding an offer lowers their barrier to entry significantly.

In addition to these big picture changes, auto repair shop signs can aslo:

  • Spread and reinforce branding
  • Guide customers to certain services or products
  • Encourage impulse sales
  • Inform with relevant information
  • Promote sales and promotions

Signs tell us directly about the world around us, and that relationship gives them their power of persuasion.

Auto Repair Shop Sign Types

Signs play different roles depending on the location,

Some signs are made to be read up close. others from afar. Some inform, others persuade or entertain, and most direct readers from one location to another. 

Effective automotive repair shop signage means making use of a variety of sign types to ensure the greatest draw and the smoothest customer experience.

Exterior Auto Repair Signs Get Visitors Through Your Doors

Wiygul Automotive Outdoor Sign

Outdoor signage gets people inside your door—arguably the biggest hurdle in marketing.

Your average local customer—say within a 5-7 mile radius of your business—drives past your shop fifty to sixty times each month. Exterior signs are how you spread awareness of your brand, and draw this vital, captive audience and into your shop.

They’re the first impression future customers will form of your business, telling them in text and visuals who you are, what you do, and what makes you different from your competition. Signs may be branded with your logo, and can promote specials, educate, or entertain.

We’re going for maximum exposure; external signs belong  in areas highly visible to walkers and drivers.

Auto Repair Shop Sign Types

Signs play different roles depending on the location,

Some signs are made to be read up close. others from afar. Some inform, others persuade or entertain, and most direct readers from one location to another. 

Effective automotive repair shop signage means making use of a variety of sign types to ensure the greatest draw and the smoothest customer experience.

Exterior Auto Repair Signs Get Visitors Through Your Doors

Wiygul Automotive Outdoor Sign

Outdoor signage gets people inside your door—arguably the biggest hurdle in marketing.

Your average local customer—say within a 5–7-mile radius of your business—drives past your shop fifty to sixty times each month. Exterior signs are how you spread awareness of your brand, and draw this vital, captive audience and into your shop.

They’re the first impression future customers will form of your business, telling them in text and visuals who you are, what you do, and what makes you different from your competition. 

Signs may be branded with your logo, and can promote specials, educate, or entertain.

We’re going for maximum exposure; external signs belong in areas highly visible to walkers and drivers.

Interior Auto Repair Signs Direct, Inform & Sell

Indoor Shop Signage

Whereas external signs are best at drawing foot traffic, interior auto repair signs get visitors to purchase; both through persuasive and directional signs designed to guide customers through your shop and towards special promotions.

Since interior auto shop signs are read up close—in an environment where they’re far less distracted—you can use more sophisticated images and messages; ideal for reinforcing brand imagery, informing customers and highlighting sales. 

Persuasive Auto Repair Signs for Making the Hard Sell

Storefront Signage

All signs are designed to bring viewers closer to the sale, but only persuasive signs take the task of directly advertising the end sale.

Persuasive signs follow a specific format: headline, explanation and call to action (More on promotional sign writing below).

Usually, advertise a product or promotion, and help increase interaction with products that may be overlooked (high margin), display that product type on the sign to highlight it –  increasing the perceived value, as well as sales.

Branded Auto Shop Signage

People are already in the store, so why show them your logo one more time? 

Because advertising isn’t just about xx, it’s about reminding and reinforcing messages and branding. Simply branded signs and posters help visitors connect your brand to their in-store experience and help them remember. 

Place them in a variety of locations.

Point of Purchase (P.O.P.) Automotive Repair Shop Signs

Retail customer service

Point of purchase signs sit near the cash register and help encourage customers towards added services and products. 

One study for promotional point of purchase signs found that 1 in 6 purchases are made when there’s a P.O.P. display, and 16% of unplanned purchases are due to the displays, also.

Informational/Directional Auto Shop Signs

Directional Sign Outside

You can’t assume that potential customers know how to get anywhere or do anything, finding the nearest cross street, locating your store on the street, finding the cash register, or remembering special offers.

Directional signage is easy to understand. It tells customers where they should go. 

Clients must clearly and easily understand informal signage so they can comprehend it in seconds. Use large, bold fonts and high-contrast colors.

Add a hint of branding to each—other with a consistent design approach or color scheme—so that visitors recognize their common purpose while reinforcing your brand visuals.

Strategically place them outside to lead foot traffic through any physical or visual obstacles. Inside, help guide visitors to the front counter, through to the waiting room, and back out the front door.

Should Your Auto Repair Shop Signs Spin?

Sign spinner promotion

Sign spinners don’t need to be competition winners to make an impact.

When it comes to holding our attention, we’re wired to favor people over objects, making person-fueled auto shop sign advertising surprisingly effective.

A fascinating bit of research on the impact of roadway sign spinners found that sign responses increase by more than 150 percent when the sign when held aloft without moving.

Interestingly, dancing sign holders get six percent more responses. A clear advantage, but the good news is you don’t need a pro dancer to get the lift you’re looking for.

How to Build Your Very Own Auto Repair Shop Signs

Sure, you may not be a professional marketer, designer, or writer.

Still, you know your auto repair shop—and the broader industry—much better than the average generic marketing consultancy.

Whether you go it alone or work with a third party, familiarizing yourself with the foundations of auto repair sign writing and design gives you a head start.

Automotive Repair Shop Sign Writing

Wiygul Sign in Driveway

The human attention span is famously limited, but you’re lucky to get a fraction of that (And that attention will be divided).

Most look at signs for five seconds or less, which means  your auto repair shop’s sign writing must send your message as directly, clearly, and powerfully as possible.

Waste no time nor attention by using the first person–you, your, yours. Speak directly to them directly and create an immediate connection–one that opens the door to persuasion.

Let’s demonstrate how that might change a typical auto repair sign message like this.

‘Get an oil change today’

Not awful, but not exactly great either. The wording is plain and common, not enough to pique curiosity.

While your first goal is to draw their attention, your language must also prepare the viewer to stop what they’re doing and reflect on your message. Remember, an oil change might have been the last thing on their mind, so we need to walk them through the risks and benefits.

As is, this message could only tempt a consumer if they are:

  • Aware of their vehicle’s last oil change
  • Aware of the consequences of not changing one’s oil
  • Generally proactive about changing oil
  • Not cost sensitive

Let’s see how much different it looks if we rewrite it to speak directly to the customer. 

“When was your last oil change?
                 Get one today”

Now, there’s no mistaking that we’re talking directly to the reader. Since we’re prompting an answer, we’re getting them to recall how long it’s been (Planting a seed of doubt that it might be overdue).

As you can see, this more involved interaction does much of the mental effort for the viewer.  They don’t have to suddenly get inspired to recall their last oil change, and we plant a seed of doubt with the implied consequences.

Of course, implied consequences might not be enough. Car owners already ignore essential maintenance best practices- even with their mechanic’s recommendation–so we can’t assume they’ll respond with the urgency it merits. 

So, let’s paint a clearer picture with a little customer education.

“Unchanged Oil + Time = Sludge

How long has it been?”

Now, this has much more drawing power.

We paint a vivid picture by showing what’s happening inside their engine, and we imply it amounts to an unmet responsibility.

Of course, there’s one significant barrier to entry left: cost sensitivity. Consumers might be financially constrained or may need an added incentive to jump on board. A compelling offer ensures much more activity.

[Of course, you’ll also have to weigh the cost of attracting customers with the value they provide over their lifetime. Otherwise, you might spend more than you make back]

Let’s add in a common first-time customer promotion and see how the whole thing looks.

“Unchanged oil steadily turns to sludge.
When was your last oil change?”
50% off for new customers!

This message takes the reader through a clear, compact journey that gives them as few reasons to say “no” as possible.

Now we’ve arrived at the ideal persuasive sign structure.

Retail Sign Structure and Placement

Wordplay, Pop Culture References & Auto Shop Sign Memorability

Auto Shop Sign

Funny messages provide concrete benefits if properly tailored to your message.

Long a favorite of consumers, funny auto repair signs can add a great deal of memorability and attraction to your presence.

Though some cast doubt over whether humor actually distract from the ultimate pitch, research seems to show that, at least when it comes to outdoor signs, they only enhance a message’s memorability.

Signage that stands out

According to research, the bit about nukes helps you remember the bit about drugs.

In one Virginia Tech study, 300 drivers were shown nearly 80 messages designed to encourage good driving behavior. Each combined a safety message with a pop culture reference or clever wordplay. Reactions were captured with a “special brain mapping helmet.”

 Messages included:

  • It’s fall, y’all. Buckle up before you leaf
  • Mom needs your hug, not your text
  • Who ya gonna call? Nobody. You’re driving.
  • Luck of the Irish won’t help if you’re driving drunk.

Participants indicated that these non-traditional safety signs were effective, and specifically recalled being moved by messages that provoked negative emotions or used statistics.

Highway Sign

After viewing, participants were asked to remember the messages, describe their messages intention, and whether they might change driving behavior.

The test was a success. Participants indicated that these nontraditional safety signs were effective and recalled being moved by messages that provoked negative emotions or used statistics. 

The younger the driver, the greater the impact.

But before you try to replicate these results, note that these messages integrated humor into existing safety messages.

Placing entertaining non sequiturs around your shop probably won’t hurt your brand, but you’re missing a valuable opportunity to connect your brand to your products and move sales.

Humorous Promotional Sign

Humor has to be directly tied into your promotional message to land.

[Side bar:

What would it look like if we applied the same formula to our earlier sign text? This is where we left off.

                 “Unchanged oil steadily turns into sludge.

When was your last oil change?”

Now let’s throw in a popular cultural reference and see how that changes things.

Time heals all wounds

Except engine oil

Which just becomes sludge]

Vibrant Colors & High Contrast Draw Eyes & Capture Attention

Color Contrast for Signage

One of the best ways to assure your signs visibility and attraction is to apply a high contrast color scheme.

Text becomes easier to read as the contrast grows between the foreground and background (Text and graphics), increasing its drawing power and overall memorability.

If you don’t have an eye for design, it’s actually pretty simple to find contrasting colors. Color researchers Arthur and Passini created this metric to measure contrast between two colors.

Color Table

It’s on a scale of 1-100, with 1 being virtually invisible and 100 being the brightest white on the deepest imaginable black.

Any combination that clears 70 is considered legible.

As you learn about the most commonly used sign colors, consider which contrasting colors best fit your brand.

Black

Conveys: Formality, power, elegance and mystery.

Contrast with: White and yellow.

Black and White Color Combination

The strikingly high contrast of white accents on black background make it the easiest to read color combination.

Description: As a color black is beyond unique. It’s one of the few background colors that play exceptionally well with other primary colors like yellow, blue, and red.

White

Conveys: Innocence, purity, goodness, perfection.

Contrast with: Black, red, blue.

Color contrast poster

Description: White is by far the most compatible color, making it an ideal as a background.

Note that white’s bright power can overpower other elements, rendering them less legible. White is ideal for signs that emphasize graphics over providing direction.

Red

Outdated For Help Sign

Conveys: Passion, power, desire, love and energy.

Contrast with: Black, white, yellow.

Description: There’s a reason why red is the color for stop signs and railroad crossings. Red is a powerful color that often signals danger. This is potentially due to the fact that you can see it from a far greater distance than all other colors on the visible spectrum.

Red’s power helps it stand out in a crowded environments of other colors

Yellow

Black and Yellow Signage

Yellow’s vibrancy makes it stand out perfectly, making black contrasting lettering easy to spot. 

Conveys: Joy, caution, intelligence, energy.

Contrast with: Black, red, blue, gray.

Description: Like red, yellow is perfect for visually-crowded spaces. Yellow is second only to red in its visibility, having the second longest wavelength of any color.

Blue with white lettering are often used on informational signs—think roadway signs. Note that lighter shades of blue require a higher contrast pairing, like black—while darker shades are best paired with white.

Silver

Contrast with: White, yellow

Signage with Silver Background

Description: Silver is a stylish background color—usually from metal signs. Almost all colors work well with silver, with white having the highest contrast. Though, if you’re using a metal background, note that the contrast might not hold at extreme angles.

Help Customers Help Themselves with Helpful Mechanic Shop Signs

As smart as we feel at our best, we all take cues from our environment to navigate the world. Whether we’re looking for safe ground to walk on, or a helping hand to point the way, signs—signs help us get to our destination.

By writing, designing, and carefully placing an array of auto repair signs, you can build a road directly from your customers heart to your front door.

Conceptual Minds are expert auto repair marketers. Outside or inside, print or digital, we know how to craft designs, messages and offers that drive car counts cost-effectively.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help!

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