Marketing has proven to be the mechanism of not only sustaining a business but also growing it. During the coronavirus pandemic, high-performing shops ramped up their marketing efforts in all of its various forms and applications. We’ve seen this principle play out over the past few months, as shops have leveraged marketing strategies to remind customers that they’re open for business and more. They’ve reached out to hundreds of customers, posted on social media platforms, increased their Google Ads budgets and implemented other strategies to keep their businesses top-of-mind in their respective markets.
Successful shops knew brand positioning was invaluable during this unique time. Plus, at the end of the day, they knew taking these extra steps was the right thing to do for their communities. Increased marketing efforts have paid off for both shops and, many times, their local community. One of those shops is Yeoman Service Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Donny Yeoman, owner of Yeoman Service Center, knew his leadership and management skills would be tested during the pandemic and wanted to stay calm to portray a sense of security to his team. He knew he had to keep his car count up and found marketing initiatives were most effective to achieve this goal.
Yeoman immediately increased his weekly ad spend by another $100 for Google Ads to ensure that calls would keep coming into his shop. He engaged his customers with one-on-one calls, checking in with them to make sure they were OK and to see if they needed anything. He also wanted to give back to the local community and support other local businesses.
So, he partnered with a local pizza shop that was on the brink of going out of business. He bought 150 pizzas and gave each pizza to a child and their parent who was now home-schooling because of the pandemic. This not only allowed the pizza shop to bring back all of its furloughed employees, but also increased business for the restaurant and got the word out about Yeoman’s shop. A true win-win for all involved.
Because of his marketing and community outreach, Yeoman hired another service advisor during the pandemic, and his April sales increased 12% compared to the previous year.
Chris Probst, co-owner of Bill’s Crestmoor Automotive, also felt the challenges the pandemic brought to her and her husband’s Denver, Colorado, shop. At first, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to keep the business open and her team intact. However, she amped up her marketing efforts and it paid off.
Her Google Ads spending had an immediate impact. She started with just $100 per week as her budgeted amount, but grew it to $400 per week. She wrote all of the business’s social media posts in order to maintain an authentic tone in the shop’s messaging. At the height of the crisis, her shop made more than 100 calls to customers per day. These “goodwill calls” to check in on customers not only brought back past customers, but also helped her team feel essential in a time of upheaval. It made them a tighter unit and grateful they could make a difference, she says.
Because of these actions, the shop grew its car count by over 30% compared to a few months prior. The business is also averaging 15 new customers per week, Probst says.
“I’m so proud of my shop and my team,” Probst beamed. “We got through the crisis and the end result is that the business is even stronger than before. The marketing we did and the level of excellent customer service showed through in everything we did. The success we have had over the past few months is unbelievable. I learned so much, and I’m even more confident now in my leadership skills than before.”
Probst also launched a nurse-appreciation program, inspired by a similar program Dave Bloom of Pine Aire Trucking in New York initiated during the pandemic. Both shops are part of the DRIVE Shops network, a nationwide business management consulting firm for automotive repair shops and tire dealers. Pine Aire engaged its customers to nominate their favorite local nurse each week. The winner was then picked out of a hat and received a $100 gift card to a local restaurant. This not only helped get the word out about Bloom’s business, but it also highlighted other local businesses and healthcare heroes.
Carolyn Gray of DRIVE has an extensive background in marketing, media strategy and branding, and has held positions as vice president of digital at Fox Broadcasting and co-president of Filmaka Studios. She brings that wealth of knowledge to Monrovia, California-based DRIVE, a business management consulting firm for the automotive aftermarket.