10 Steps to Grow Auto Repair Shop Sales in 2011

Lots of people make resolutions for the New Year, only to watch them melt away faster than a Popsicle on a 100-degree day. So forget the Popsicle resolutions – let’s focus on making resolutions that drive revenue and profits. Here are 10 steps we should all stick to:

#1: Avoid the HIPPO

Make data-driven business decisions. Too many companies make decisions based upon the HIPPO – Highest Influencing Person’s Personal Opinion. The HIPPO term is used by analytics guru Avinash Kaushik to describe the decision-making processes. It’s used by most businesses (large and small) in the U.S today. Your business has available to it free, easy-to-use tools that will tell you about customer intentions, behaviors, marketing effectiveness and more. Use these tools to guide decision-making. The information provided by actual data will result in more profit with less waste than opinions expressed by others, no matter how qualified the opinion may be. Number 3 made decisions about his car based on race and test data, not the opinion of a crew chief or engineer. That’s why he won more than most.

#2: Cut traditional media

Have you noticed that even traditional media (TV, magazines, newspapers) promote themselves online? They’re not wasting valuable promotional dollars on advertising channels that are losing audience. The costs are astronomical, the returns are poor and online offers you higher returns on investment. Think about it. An ad on Google may only cost you $100 for an entire month whereas a newspaper advertisement may cost you $1,000 for an entire month. It’s time to stop spending dollars on direct mail, radio advertisements and newspaper ads. It’s time to start investing your marketing dollars in paid-search advertising, social media and email because you get more for your money.

#3: Talk less about you and more about customer needs and wants

Many auto repair shops give their customers a history lesson on how long they’ve been in businesses. How many people like listening to history lessons when they’re spending money? Not many. Talk less about your business and start addressing the needs of your customers. Once you start helping your customers, they will start to appreciate and respect your business. Give your customers what they want. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for 50 years or five years. What matters is that you start helping your customers. That’s what grows sales.

#4: Stay focused on marketing

It’s easy for small business owners to lose focus on marketing their auto repair shop. With so many operational responsibilities, it’s easy to put marketing on the backburner. However if you want to stay in business, you’re going to need customers. And without marketing, you won’t have many customers. So, it’s important to stay focused on marketing. Don’t let minor operational issues make you lose sight of the big picture – more customers mean more business. Take time out of every day to spend time working on marketing your business. It will pay off by the end of 2011.

#5: Pay attention to ROI

One of the worst things you can do is pump your entire marketing budget into name recognition campaigns. These marketing campaigns don’t provide any value. Here’s what you need to keep in mind: Every marketing dollar you spend needs to bring in a return on investment. Making money is more important than people remembering your company’s name. Keep track of where you’re spending your marketing dollars. If you’re not getting a return on investment, stop spending money there. Here’s a tip you should remember: You’re going to get a better ROI using online channels than traditional channels such as direct mail, radio newspapers.

#6: Analyze everything about customers

There are no more excuses on why you shouldn’t know a lot about your customers in 2011. In today’s online era, small businesses have more free tools than ever before to help analyze customers. Use online survey websites to find out about your customers’ needs and wants. Use Google’s free website analytical tools to see who’s coming to your website. There are plenty of CRM and auto repair shop software that will help grow your business. Take some time to research all of these tools. It will pay off big in the long run.

#7: Sharpen your axe

What are you doing right now to improve your marketing skills? Growing your business is a lot like football. It’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. If you focus too much of your time on operations, you’re not going to grow sales. This is a problem for many small businesses. To avoid this, here are some questions you need to ask yourself: Are you taking classes that will teach you how to sell more? Are you a member of any business or trade associations that provide educational resources? Remember, if you don’t take the time to study, you won’t have the know-how to grow your business.

#8: Interact with existing customers

So many auto repair shops lose sight of what’s important – their existing customers. Your existing customer base is a gold mine of sales opportunities. Unfortunately, many small business owners spend too much time trying to get new customers with flashy advertisements that are too expensive and just don’t work. You need to appreciate the customers you have. If you could get each of your existing customers to regularly frequent your business, just think how much sales would increase. Make a commitment to your existing customer base in 2011.

#9: Increase your pricing

Don’t get scared when we say this...Increase your pricing across the board by two percent in 2011. We all know the recession has been tough, but a two percent increase is not as risky as you may think. If your business operations and customer service are great, customers will have no problem paying for an oil change that costs $20.40 as opposed to one that costs $20. We’re not talking $5 here. It’s worth the small risk. Increase your pricing by two percent and start watching your profits grow in 2011.

#10: Have a plan

You would be amazed how many large and small businesses do not have a marketing plan. Not having a marketing plan is a lot like going on a long road trip without a map. You may get to your destination, but you’ve wasted a lot of time and money to get there. The same applies in marketing. Create a marketing plan that will drive your business in 2011. Write down all those great thoughts you have on paper and discuss them with your business partners. Create a plan of actions. Having a detailed marketing plan will get you where you need to be in 2011.

We have proven mathematically that our entire team makes a better living by using the systems incorporated into FastTrak.
John Gustafson
Gustafson Brothers, Inc
Huntington Beach, CA