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AASP-MN and Shop Marketing Pros Present Discussion How to Market Shops During a Crisis

Printed in Autobody News

Shop Marketing Pros and AASP-MN on March 25 presented a free webinar, “How Do I Market My Shop in a Crisis?”

Taught by Kim Walker of Shop Marketing Pros, the webinar helped shops understand what to say, where to say it and how to say it during a crisis.

Webinar sponsor AASP-MN invited AASP-PA and IGONC to attend as well, and all three associations heavily promoted the informative session to their members. As a result, more than 100 collision and automotive repair industry professionals registered to learn about the timely topic.

Walker began by explaining she and her husband, Brian, are past shop owners and now own a marketing company.

When it comes to the current pandemic with COVID-19, many people are asking how they remain socially responsible. Preventive measures were put in place to keep people working, and to collision repairers, Walker pointed out, “You are essential. The government decided you’re essential because you’re providing an important service to the community.”

The good news is while some shops may be experiencing a reduction in car count, the average repair order is increasing, Walker said, citing a study by Tekmetric.

“Be willing to adapt,” Walker said. “See what’s happening, and accept it quickly. Recognize what’s going on in the world, and get ahead of the curve. This whole situation moved very quickly, and it’s important to be able to adapt quickly with a positive attitude. Have a conversation with your team to help them adapt as well.”

Shops marketing during the current crisis should start with the basics, including the soft skills.

“Now isn’t the time to jump into a brand-new marketing strategy or do cool new things if you don’t have your foundational marketing in place,” Walker said. “Instead, be human, show compassion. Be resourceful and thoughtful, clear and communicative. Market your shop by becoming a resource. People are going to remember the time you helped them and tell people about that.”

During a crisis, shops should focus on customer retention, instead of acquisition.

“Focus on what you have—loyal customers,” Walker said. “Don’t spend a lot of money trying to acquire new customers when you already have a database of customers who love you, trust you and want to do business with you.”

Walker suggested loyalty programs and discounts.

“Create engaging content on social media that is relevant and shows how helpful your services are,” Walker said. “Let them know you’re still open for business, and share details about what you’re doing to keep them safe. Right now, people are looking for confidence and assurances that you’re there to take care of them.”

While some shops may consider halting their marketing, Walker advises against it.

“You may need to alter your marketing plan, but people are scared, so keep educating them and being the helpful, trusted resource they need. They depend on you, so stay in touch. If you’re slow, create more content,” she said.

Walker suggested revisiting current ads and turning off any ads pushing something currently unhelpful. Be helpful or solve a problem, if possible; stop and question what makes the most sense and if a promotion suits the current environment.

“Create an integrated message across all platforms, and make sure that you only boost posts that include a call for action, such as ‘call now,’ or ‘click here to schedule.’ Make sure the money you spend is working for you,” Walker said.

When it comes to what to say, Walker said to be clear and consistent, and to not confuse.

“Take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and reassure. Know who you are and who you’re talking to,” Walker said. “People are desperate for confidence, so deliver relevant, knowledgeable information that captures their attention and reduces their stress. Reassure customers of everything your shop is doing to protect them and prevent the spread.”

Content generation should be based on customers and addressing their questions. Be sure to use reputable sources.

“Listen and pay attention. What are they asking, and how can you answer it in a way that gets them to come into your shop?” Walker posed. “Have employees write down customer questions, and there’s your content. You’re being the authority on the topic, showing empathy and demonstrating that you know what you’re doing.”

For information on Shop Marketing Pros and their future webinars, visit shopmarketingpros.com.