The best customers for any business are repeat customers followed closely by referrals from your regular customers. These prospects convert much more often than average and are already expecting a good value and quality service, letting you get on with it with the minimum of interruption.They are also often willing to pay slightly more as your service is already perceived to be of a higher value than an unknown business. If you are at the stage where you can run your business on the back of regular and referral business you are in a very good position. For tips and advice on running a successful referral program and customer loyalty scheme read A Guide to Bodyshop Referral and Loyalty Schemes.
If you are not in this enviable postion yet or business has slowed down, where do you then turn to get new customers? You know you need to acquire new leads and prospects but what are the options and how do you decide the best route to take?
Traditional Print Advertisements
Traditional advertising still works well for the local car body shop and smart repairer. The classified ad sections of your local newspaper and well placed in content ads can provide a good ROI (Return on Investment) although anecdotal evidence suggests that the returns generated today are not what they were 10 or even 5 years ago. See our Guide to Writing a Car Bodyshop Print Ad for help and advice.
Costs for the major directories are high for a small business. Prices of many hundreds or thousands of pounds for single entries are common. The benefit to your own business is difficult to judge without trying it for yourself. Many car body shops report a very good ROI from directories such as Thomson Local and the good old Yellow Pages but others report negligible results for what is a substantial outlay each year.
Leaflet campaigns generally have a very low return rate of around 2 to 3% meaning you can expect 2 or 3 enquiries per 100 leaflets delivered and we all know those enquiries will not necessarily convert to paying customers. This makes it not worth the time of most small businesses to deliver using their own or employees time to hand deliver. Leaflet distribution companies can deliver the required volume for you to generate enquiries but this comes at a cost and it’s own problems. For cheap leafleting at a cost of around £20 per thousand for newspaper inserts or £30 for shared leaflet delivery the issue is that your leaflet is one of many and the return rate often drops below 1%. You can even see your leaflets being delivered at the same time as your competitors.
Solus distribution where your leaflet is the only one delivered can cost between £50 and £80 per thousand with minimum orders often around 5 to 10 thousand. The return goes back up to 2 or 3% on this method. It is often worth a test campaign of 5000 leaflets to judge the returns you get and use that data to make a decision on your ongoing marketing efforts. Check out our guides containing information and tips on How to Conduct a Succesful Leaflet Campaign and Leaflet Design for Car Bodyshops.
Television and Radio
Television advertising for car body repair businesses gives a historically poor ROI which is why you don’t see many TV ads for this industry. ChipsAway ran a successful national television campaign in 2009/2010 and reported a 34% increase in enquiries although there is no data on the conversion rates or the actual ROI. The budget for this was around £150,000 which is beyond the reach of many car bodyshops.
Radio on the other hand can be highly effective for local businesses like car bodyshops and mobile repairers. Local campaigns can cost from £1000 up to whatever your budget is and the ads can be targetted directly to your local targetted prospects. A successful radio advertising campaign must be properly planned to make the most out of your investment. To be notified of our upcoming feature on A Step by Step Guide to Radio for Car Bodyshops sign up to our free newsletter or check back next month.
By far the most important entry on this list. If you are serious about wanting to gain new business then your website is your number one priority. Your website is your brochure to the world and should reflect everything great about your business that you want to convey to your target audience. It must look and navigate like a professional site and it should contain a clear Call to Action – like a well placed phone number or a link to your quote system. If you don’t have a website – you NEED one. If you do have one then you should go and look at it and see if it is fulfilling the requirements you have. We have a lot to say on internet marketing and your web presence, so much that we have a whole series of articles that every serious business owner should read. Start at Your Car Bodyshop website.