Curb appeal is an essential element of marketing. When a customer drives up and glances at the exterior of L&M Auto Repair, I want them to see our warmth and authenticity. This is the impression before their first impression, so it’s important that they feel invited.
My husband, Caleb, and I run a six-bay shop in Wichita, KS. The population here is just under 400,000 people and nearly half are families. This is our typical customer to whom we market. More often than not, it’s the woman who is bringing the family car in for service, with children in tow, and we want to make her feel comfortable.
Knowing she is our target market, I like to think of myself as the customer: “If I needed to have my vehicle repaired, what would my expectations be?” As a mom, I want an environment that is clean and safe for my children, as well as one that provides quality and service that I can trust. So, this is exactly how I create my promotional campaigns.
Honesty is Always Our Best Policy
In the marketing and management classes we’ve taken, we are taught to implement “buttons.” This is a term used to signify a trigger that will help attract your ideal customer. For us, the “button” is trust. And while some shops may prefer an image of a handshake to convey their message of trust, we use our family. Honesty is the foundation of trust and, let’s face it, there is no one more honest than a child.
We have two girls, Olivia (age 5) and Madelyn (age 7). Recently, we had a family photo shoot and we thought that it would be fun to take pictures of the girls in a mechanic’s jumpsuit. We use these images on our website and we feature them in marketing campaigns. I had a new customer come into our shop, holding one of our postcards, and he said, “I want her to fix my car.” This technique works extremely well in our area because it helps them feel connected to us.
There’s also something to be said about a shop that stands by its word. I market L&M as honest and trustworthy and we often use slogans like, “We’ve got you covered,” and “Quality repairs you can count on.” But we also practice what we promise. We offer a warranty, we use quality parts and we are running a 50-year-old business. We take pride in the longevity of the shop. It’s a sign of stability, which is also important to our customers.
Designed With Our Customers in Mind
Within the last year, we remodeled our shop’s physical appearance, as well as its brand. When we first bought the shop, you had to walk through three big bays and pass lifts with elevated cars to check out. One day, we had a woman come through nervously with her children, holding them tightly as she paid. That’s when Caleb decided to change the entire layout of our shop’s interior.
Shortly after that, he pointed to the “barn red” paint on the exterior and asked, “Do you think I need to paint this?” I quickly replied, “If I wasn’t married to you and I were a single mom, I may question this appearance.” Again, positioning my thoughts as our target audience helped. We receive so many compliments now that I’m almost embarrassed to think about how our shop looked before we remodeled it.
Another big change we made is that we went from eight parking spots to 29. We also added two beautiful signs, we incorporated a lot of bright colors and I hung colorful pictures, that I painted, on the waiting room walls.
The Three C’s: Comfort, Convenience and Coffee
A woman’s world can’t stop while her car is being serviced. Our waiting area is quiet and comfortable and it has all of the essentials that any modern mom (or non-mom) may need. We have a coffee machine, a variety of snacks, a television, Wi-Fi and lots of kid-friendly books.
L&M has four loaner cars available as well, so if she needs to pick the kids up from school or make a quick trip to the grocery store, we have a minivan, an SUV and two sedans ready to go when needed. We once had a family of seven drive through our town and they needed immediate service. So, they borrowed our minivan, checked in at the local hotel and we had them out and back on the road by 9 a.m. the following day.
Whether I am marketing to women or to anyone else, honesty is first and foremost. I would never sell someone a service that they don’t need and I would never deliver quality that isn’t good enough for my own family. Sure, our girls are cute. But that’s not why we use them in our marketing campaigns. We want our shop to be known for its integrity and family is the purest form.
Article courtesy Shop Owner.