Year-End Review: What We Learned in 2023 About Auto Shop Marketing

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The end of the year presents a unique opportunity to analyze the metrics and look back at the results of your auto repair shop marketing efforts. Now’s the time to sit down with the analytics and identify what worked, what didn’t work, and what’s needed to improve in 2024.

As the premier marketing coaches exclusive to the tire and auto shop industry, we’ve learned a few lessons, too. Today, we’re exploring what auto repair shop marketing strategies and innovations are worth noting, helping you to carve out a winning marketing and advertising roadmap for the year ahead. It’s time to revolutionize how you promote your auto repair shop, attract more service customers, and improve car counts. These are the lessons learned that you can take to the bank.

2024 sticker

Lesson 1: Timing and Customer Communication Matter

There’s an awful lot of noise out there these days. Just think about how many ad messages you scroll through with just your personal use of social media. The truth is staggering. Forbes shared the numbers…

Today’s consumer sees as many as 10,000 ad messages EVERY DAY.

Back in 2007, market research company, Yankelovich, clocked average daily messaging at just 4,000.

With so many ads cluttering your customers’ news and social feeds, how can you be effective in making your brand and repair services stand out from the noise?

Predictive Automation for the Win

Since today’s consumers (and your target audience) are on autopilot, tuning out advertising messages, the key to breaking in involves timely communication. Your customers prefer to hear from their auto repair businesses when it’s the right time – in other words, when they need you. Using predictive technology along with marketing automation is mission-critical to acting at the right time, too.

For example, using software to track and predict when your customers’ tires are about to need replacement and triggering a marketing message reminder via email, direct mail and text messaging is more likely to bring them into your shop. You can also use predictive automation to remind customers of upcoming oil change, batteries, brakes, etc. It’s about knowing how to communicate, what to say when you do, and knowing when to do it.

These proven predictive automation efforts allow you to:

  1. Reach your customers at the right time.
  2. Connect with them using a channel of their preference.
  3. Offer value with your message in the form of a friendly reminder or specific offer.

We’ve always suspected that how, what, and when you communicate with your customers were the differentiating factors between successful and failing ad messages. But in 2023, we found the proof in the pudding to support our hypothesis.

Wiygul Automotive Clinic

Wiygul Automotive Clinic Marketing Case Study

With customized marketing automation strategies, this 40+ year-old family tire and auto business saw real leaps-and-bounds results in both of their priority areas: customer retention and repeat purchase rates.

Wiygul Automotive Clinic automation marketing results:

  • 50% higher open rates with predictive email reminders
  • 400% more touchpoints per customer with an increase in “unsubscribes”
  • 15% growth in repeat purchase rates three years over
  • 25% cost savings on print marketing campaigns

“Compared to other tire and auto marketing providers, working with CM is a completely different story. “Set it and forget it” is just not something that Taran and his team do. They’re constantly looking through data and learning how our customers are responding to identify ways to get us even more out of our marketing efforts. That and the results they deliver keep us very, very happy!”

  • Zack Wiygul, Owner

Photo by Leonardo Luz: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-a-strawberry-in-chocolate-14001360/ -- chocolate covered strawberry

Capitalizing on Precise Seasonal Opportunities

There’s a reason that Sherry’s Berries only advertises right before Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Both are the company’s biggest buying seasons. And this kind of sporadic ad dumping works, meaning the chocolate-dipped strawberry brand doesn’t have to be everywhere to everyone, all the time, to be successful.

The same ad messaging concept applies to auto repair shops. You don’t have to market all your auto repair services, on every channel to everyone, all the time. In fact, you’ll get better results by focusing on niche customers who have unique needs at precise times throughout the year.

Customer Communication and Auto Repair Shop Marketing Are Synonymous

Every customer interaction that your auto repair shop has presents an opportunity to make an impression. A “Your vehicle’s ready” text can be more impactful if there is more value or branding incorporated. A “Thank you for your payment” or “Thank you for scheduling your service appointment” confirmation email should also be chock-full of branded visuals, links to valuable customer car care tips, or invitations to subscribe to your newsletter.

While some auto shops are just trying to stay committed to a consistent customer communication strategy, you can be exploring ways to elevate your communication efforts.

  • Communicate valuable information about your customers’ vehicles, including maintenance reminders, car care tips, and additional resources.
  • Communicate special offers and community support efforts your auto shop has throughout the year.
  • Communicate loyalty and referral programs with incentives and benefits for those who continue to use your repair shop for auto maintenance.
  • Communicate in a timely manner to ask for online reviews and testimonials.

Related: Auto Repair Shop Email List Management: Segmenting, Cleansing & IP Reputations

Lesson 2: Community Connections Build Trust

As humans, we inherently crave connections and seek out opportunities to build relationships with others. As a business, you can capitalize on this human behavior and use it to your marketing advantage. Be the relatable, local, human brand your local community wants to connect with – meet them where they need you to be.

Here’s what they want from a tire and auto shop to feel comfortable building a lasting relationship with you:

  • Honest advice and transparent solutions
  • Reliable service and helpful assistance
  • The Goldilocks amount of attention (not too much, not too little)
  • Fair treatment as a local neighbor, not a number or a sales metric
  • The same familiarity with everyone in your shop (reception, service advisor, mechanic)

Photo by RDNE Stock project: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-a-crew-neck-shirt-6647117/ -- volunteer

Focusing on Engaging Locally

Your auto repair shop business is entirely reliant on your ability to attract LOCAL customers. These are your neighbors who you might run into at the grocery store or at the post office. They should know you (and your brand) as a fellow community member and neighbor. Otherwise, they’ll choose the repair shop competitor they trust more.

You’ve known the value of being a community supporter and contributor. But as we look to auto shop marketing methods for 2024, those efforts that reinforce your shop as a trusted LOCAL partner are paramount. These techniques aren’t about selling your repair services either.

Harvard Business Review suggests a brand that connects emotionally to its customers can have a 306% higher lifetime value than those without an emotional connection. Moreover, 70% of customers agree that they feel a stronger connection to a company when it has a “community.”

Here are community-centric campaigns that elevate your brand visibility in your market and build trust among your local target audience of potential customers.

  • Participating in local food drives, blood drives, or seasonal fundraising efforts
  • Participating in local parades, job fairs, and festivals
  • Participating with other businesses as sponsors for area causes

Social Media Communities

Since you can’t be physically everywhere with customers in your community, find them on social media.   can reinforce your local position of authority. Be present first. Then, commit to developing a social media strategy that builds on that presence.

  • Join the online groups for your town and county. See what residents are talking about and contribute to those conversations in a meaningful way.
  • Promote your people by showcasing employee anniversaries, milestones, training accomplishments, and birthdays.
  • Share and post content about charitable contributions and fundraising efforts in the community.
  • Create a content calendar and automate your posts about car care tips, reminders, and auto repair industry news. However, we do recommend that you focus on what gets engagement from your community and double down on those types of posts.

Building a community on social media is less about promoting your offers and services. Instead, focus on engaging in other ways, without asking for a sale, and forming those emotional connections.

Photo by Daniel Andraski: https://www.pexels.com/photo/pouring-oil-to-engine-13065690/ -- pouring oil

Sustainable, Ethical Business Practices Win Customers

Another way to connect authentically with your auto repair audience is with ethical and sustainable business practices. Business DIT shared ethics statistics for 2023, only reinforcing to companies that consumers care about ethics, brand values, and sustainability.

  • Research suggests that 84% of consumers consider a business’ ethics and values before they make a purchase.
  • 63% of customers want more ethical business practices.

A Nielsen study also found that 48% of consumers are willing to actually change their buying habits to “save” the planet. And 75% of millennials are twice as likely to change their ways than Baby Boomers.

So, how can your tire and auto shop embrace and promote more ethical and sustainable practices? Start talking about what you’re doing with your marketing messages.

  • Technology and automation: Today’s software solutions make for more transparent customer billing and service. Digital receipts and car care services also reduce the need for paper.
  • Recycling materials: Your auto repair shop is likely already recycling parts and materials. These steps are worth promoting in support of your brand message of sustainability.
  • Green car care: Promote tips and educate your customers on how to embrace green car care practices, including proper tire pressure, regular wheel alignment, and preventive maintenance.

Lesson 3: Being Agile and Flexible Is Smart Business

Nothing is static in marketing. And as marketing coaches, we’re on the front lines of the ever-changing messaging landscape. Customer behavior, competitors, innovation, and local economic conditions all impact how consumers make purchasing decisions. The marketing channels or ad campaigns that worked yesterday won’t necessarily be effective today. It reminds auto shop owners that effective marketing can never be a “set it and forget it” plan.

The best way for your tire and auto shop to operate with agility involves establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and testing various marketing strategies. Remove the emotional and convenience aspects from the equation, relying only on the data and testing to guide your decisions.

Google search results and local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are great places to start. According to Moz research, being visible to Google searchers is critical to your auto shop marketing success. Google processes roughly 99,000 search engine inquiries every SECOND.

  • 7% of consumers search for things using Google five to ten times each day.
  • 14% of consumers search for things using Google one to three times each day.
  • 77% of consumers search for things using Google three or more times each day.

When you do discover a winning SEO plan, ad campaign, email marketing message, or social media initiative that produces results, double down on repeating them. But if those efforts begin to fall short, change things up and try something new.

The caveat here is patience. Being agile and flexible with your marketing doesn’t mean trying all kinds of new things and chasing shiny objects. Give each campaign the appropriate investment and timeline to produce results before pulling the plug and jumping ship. Keep an open mind about new ways of reaching your customers. Be methodical and data-driven about selecting marketing channels and messaging.

Avoid the Cookie-Cutter Approach

Being agile and flexible also means thinking outside the box and getting creative. Customer experiences matter. But in the auto repair industry, it’s mission-critical to find HIGH-VALUE ways to stand out, which means adopting approaches that are customized for your business. Today’s device-connected customers are inundated with content. And everyone’s adopted a “scrolling” behavior that only stops when there’s something:

  • Valuable
  • Engaging
  • Unique

As a tire and auto shop owner, attracting more car care customers means finding a way to get in front of your target audience and convince them to stop scrolling. Additionally, because the online marketing space is incredibly noisy, you have to adopt a unique approach that focuses on differentiating experiences. Here are some suggestions we find to be successful with our auto shop marketing clients:

  • Don’t just offer a coupon. Build value with an attention-grabbing experience around your offer.
  • Don’t just promote your shop and logo online. Create stories and engaging personality around your brand to humanize your shop and make it more attractive.
  • Don’t just perform a customer’s requested service and be done. Engage further with follow-up surveys, emails, and appreciation messaging.
  • Don’t just sell your services. Be a trusted community pillar by being visible as a “neighborhood” small business, contributing to local activities.
  • Don’t just compete with competitors on price. Differentiate your offers with added value components and incredible customer service.

Photo by Adrienn: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-eating-bruschetta-1537635/ -- upscale dining women

Big Ideas and Special Promotions Drive Results

As we head into 2024, the tire and auto shops that leverage BIG IDEAS and innovative special promotions are going to come out on top. We helped clients experience real results with unique, targeted promotions this year.

For one client promotion, we helped them partner with one of the top restaurants in the country, The Inn At Little Washington. This Valentine’s Day campaign attracted more than 1,450 in 2023 for a chance to win a $750 gift card to the iconic and three-star Michelin restaurant. As a result of this promotional partnership, our auto shop client attracted thousands of high net worth prospects, representing their target audience. The client was also able to convert a meaningful amount of these prospects into paid customers within 6-months with creative and timely email marketing strategies.

Let’s Learn from 2023 & Build a Better 2024 Together

If you spent 2023 trying to navigate the complex marketing aspects of your business alone, it’s another lesson learned. If marketing is not your forte, and you don’t have time to learn it, rely on someone trustworthy who is looking out for your auto shop’s best interest. If you can’t find that individual in your network, reach out to highly trusted marketing coaches at Conceptual Minds.

Let’s connect and discuss what your auto repair shop needs to grow and scale next year. Together, we can grow your profits and car counts with all the best and most modern marketing techniques in 2024.

Learn About Conceptual Minds

As veterans of the automotive industry, the Conceptual Minds team are experts at growing car counts through effective and personable marketing. If you are unsure of your current marketing strategy and would like some guidance, contact us today at 877.524.7696.

Need help preparing your 2024 marketing plan?

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