When a vehicle owner decides to search for an auto repair service provider they will generally go through a series of information sources to find alternatives. The first source considered is the current provider along with other repair shops they know or have heard of. Marketing comes into play here as a consumer will include shops they’ve been exposed to through advertising. People they know can be the most influential source although they’ll probably investigate a little further depending on the level of trust they have in the person who suggested the shop. And finally today – most consumers use the Internet and review sites to find shops they will consider. For the auto repair shop it’s important to be included in as many of these sources of information as possible:
- Existing or Known Service Providers – When a vehicle owner considers possible providers for maintenance on their car – their first inclination will be toward their current provider. Beyond that they will usually consider shops they’ve heard of or been exposed to via advertising. For the current provider – keeping the customer is dependent on quality of service, effective vehicle inspections and customer relationship management. For the shop hoping to gain business name recognition and reputation are most important.
- Friends and Associates – Consumers are influenced to varying degrees by people they know. When vehicle maintenance or repair is needed – once their existing provider has been considered along with other shops they know or have heard of – they turn to others for advice. A referral can be the most powerful factor in earning new business. The value of a customer who becomes an advocate cannot be understated.
- Advertisements – Marketing statistics tell us that a consumer must be exposed to a product a minimum of 8 times before considering a purchase. So whether the vehicle owner is an existing customer or a prospect – exposure to the shop and its services is the key to winning or retaining business.
- Internet Search – The majority of people when searching for a product or service will use the Internet. And a good portion of them will not look at the paid advertisements on the top or sidebar but will look at the search results in the body of the page. Furthermore they won’t usually look past the first page. This magnifies the importance of search engine optimization and maintaining relevance. It’s important that when a person does a search on ‘Auto Repair’ or ‘Tires’ for example that the shop is displayed as high on the list as possible.
- Review Sites – Most consumers will look for reviews on a business before using their services. Yelp, Google, Angie’s list and other sites provide opportunities for customers to look at what other people say about their experience with an auto repair shop before having their vehicle serviced there. From the shop perspective it’s important to manage reviews diligently. If a customer is unhappy with their service the shop may have the opportunity to turn the situation around and overcome the potential impact of a negative review. Also encouraging customers to post reviews can have the impact of boosting positioning on review sites.