If you want to excel in the mechanic business and become the owner of a 5 star mechanic shop, you need to start developing the skills and mindset of a 5 star mechanic. While you usually won’t be able to acquire these abilities overnight, you can take steps now to learn how to be a great mechanic and business owner before you even sign the paperwork to buy or lease your shop. When you’re opening a mechanic shop, you’ll have plenty on your plate.
Market Your Business
When it comes to marketing your mechanic shop, you can either rely on specialized auto repair marketing software or hire a team of marketing professionals to handle this side of business development. To increase your chances of becoming a 5 star mechanic, you’ll need to have marketing efforts that reflect your caliber of work. One of the best ways you can market your business is through email.
While this is a pretty old and traditional form of marketing at this point, it’s reliable and remains one of the most popular avenues for marketing for all kinds of businesses. If you’ve ever gotten an email from a business and decided to patronize them as a result, you’ll understand the power of email marketing. It’s a great way to communicate with customers directly on a platform that they use regularly. Still, an email marketing campaign is only as effective as the strategy behind it.
Before you start randomly spamming your customers with emails, you should take some time to make a marketing plan for your email campaign. The first part of this plan is determining who’s your target audience. At first, you may think this is anyone who could use an auto repair service. While that’s not entirely inaccurate, the truth of the matter is that your target audience should be narrowed down as much as possible so you have the most effective marketing strategy you can. If your services operate in a certain region, you can consider residents of that geographic area as your target audience. If you tend to only provide auto services for specific types of cars like luxury cars or recreational vehicles, you can narrow your target audience down to owners of those vehicles.
You can also think about the demographic information and lifestyle of those who buy your services. Additionally, you can think about the behaviors and patterns of this target audience. If they tend to be older folks who are suspicious of technology, an email marketing campaign might not even be effective when you compare it to billboards, mailers, or non-technical methods of marketing.
Once you have your target audience nailed down, you can use best practices to make a marketing plan that’s sure to work. If you can divide your audience into categories that define their qualities or unique identifiers, you’ll have a better time providing effective marketing materials to them. For example, you may have tags that indicate whether a customer owns a minivan or mostly comes to you for cosmetic auto work. This way, you’ll avoid overloading customers with emails in general and make sure the right emails reach the right customers at the perfect time.
If you can send email content to your customers that gives them value for free, they’ll appreciate it even more than sales and promotional emails. To create a personal connection with customers, make sure your emails address them by name and offer a personable tone. Additionally, give your customers useful nuggets of car care wisdom in addition to alerts to sales and promotions. This balance will make them less likely to funnel your emails to the spam or junk folder with “sales-y” emails.
Find a Location
One of the most exciting parts of opening up a 5 star mechanic auto shop is finding the perfect place for you to conduct your business. From finding the right town or city to set up a shop to making your way through the process of renting or buying a physical shop, location matters more than you may think. If it’s hard for your future customers to find your shop, they may choose an easily accessible shop over your auto repair business.
On the other hand, if your mechanic shop is located in an area that’s easy to access but already saturated with auto shops, you may have a hard time breaking into the business. As you’re looking for a location, you may want to enlist a commercial realtor and real estate attorney to help you find the ideal shop. This can also help you complete essential paperwork.
If finding a location is stressing you out, you may not need to sweat it as much as you would think. As Small Biz Trends explains, “You already know that location is one of the most important decisions for any small business. But for some automotive businesses, it’s actually not as big of an issue as it would be otherwise. If you get most of your business from insurance carriers, then customers have to find your specific business in order to take advantage of the services provided by their insurance company. So you might be able to save some money by not targeting the most premium business locations. However, some auto shops still choose to make their location a major selling point for other customers.”
When you figure out what your target audience would be, you’ll have an easier time deciding just how important your shop’s location may be for your future business. It might not matter on a sales and success level, but you may do your best work when you feel comfortable in the location that suits you. When you have to commute to your shop, you should also think about how far you’re willing to drive both ways in all kinds of weather. Even if you score a great deal on a shop that’s an hour away, it might not be worth it if you’re spending more time and money on getting to and from the shop.
Offer Windshield Replacement
Any 5 star mechanic worth their salt will be able to offer a replacement windshield and installation to customers who have lost or damaged their windshield. Since the windshield protects the car, keeps passengers safe, and ensures that it is safe to drive, you’d be remiss to miss out on this routine service. Some car owners may want to replace their windshields for aesthetic purposes.
Others might need a replacement after an accident or other damaging tragedy. If you can offer windshield replacements as a service, you’ll put yourself in the running to compete with other major mechanic shops and auto repair services. This will give you a head start at pursuing success in this field.
Offer Brake Checks
Without functioning brakes, a vehicle is unsafe to drive, as any 5 star mechanic would know. This is why providing services like checking the brakes to your customers will help you do as well as other mechanics in the area–or even better. You can either provide this as a free side service to keep clients happy or advertise it as a paid service that will attract new clients. If a customer comes into your shop for a routine repair and you notice their brakes seem off, you can offer a brake check to build trust with them off the bat. They’ll appreciate your attention to detail and genuine concern for their safety on the road.
Consult With Experts
When you’re new to the car repair sector, you may think that every 5 star mechanic you see got to their level of experience on their own. The truth is that great mechanics have spent time consulting with other great mechanics to reach their status as an expert. Although you might see other mechanics or better-performing auto repair shops as competition, they can provide a great source of collaboration if you network properly.
As a new auto repair shop, it can feel overwhelming to navigate marketing, repair services, financials, and more. Relying on the experts and consulting them as needed can take a load off your shoulders. It can also keep you from making simple mistakes that every mechanic makes when they’re just starting. If you can learn from experts instead of learning by doing, you’ll save yourself time, money, and headaches.
Scope Out Competition
While it’s great to consult the experts, you’ll also want to take a look at local auto body repair shops and compare them to how you’ll run your business as a 5 star mechanic. At the end of the day, these businesses are your competition. If you live in an area where there are very few auto repair shops, you might not have much competition. In areas where the market is saturated, it pays to take notes of potential rivals and allies in the field.
Although we sometimes see competition as a bad thing, it can be the best thing that happens to your business. After all, the more competition you have, the higher the stakes to do well. This will drive you to continually wow your customers and kick complacency to the curb. If your corner of the industry is about the survival of the fittest and most competitive mechanics, you can still stand out and do your best to thrive in that cutthroat environment. If you find that the competition is too stiff for your liking, you can relocate your business to somewhere that’s more laid back.
To stand out in a crowd, find the aspects of your business that make you unique. This could be fancy car detailing equipment in your shop or wraps and paint jobs that you can’t find anywhere else. It can also be a small-town, mom-and-pop feel to your shop that competes with corporate dealerships and franchises.
Whatever makes your auto repair shop unique, make sure you shout it to the masses and include it in your marketing materials. Find ways to retain customers by offering special loyalty deals, free extras, and genuine relationships so you can have a customer base that will stick with you through thick and thin. If the same customers keep coming back to your shop despite the competition, you’ll know you’ve got something that the competitors can’t provide. This means you’re on the track to success.
Offer Emergency Assistance
While every 5 star mechanic offers different services, you can stand out from the rest by including emergency roadside assistance on your list of services. If you provide emergency assistance, car owners in a pinch will appreciate you and even repeat their business when they’re not in an emergency. Handling emergency repairs can be stressful, but it can also be rewarding when you send customers on their way after a long, difficult day.
Consider Window Tints
One of the best services you can provide is window tinting. It’s a popular service with a practical application. Since it’s not something every repair shop offers, you’ll distinguish yourself if you offer it.
Hire Tire Experts
While you might be a 5 star mechanic, you can’t do everything. If you have an alignment shop, build a team of tire experts to handle that part of your business. Your customers will thank you for knowing your limits and outsourcing this task to professionals.
Have Parts on Hand
If your shop specializes in collision repair, it never hurts to have parts on hand. From spare tires to gaskets to paint in a range of colors, this will save you money and time. If you don’t have to order a new part because it’s already in stock, you’ll show that you’re prepared for anything.
From creating a marketing strategy to finding the perfect spot to open your shop, there’s no shortage of work cut out for you as a new mechanic shop owner. Some mechanics may enjoy the process of developing a business while others might see it as nothing more than the drudgery work that leads to making their dream a reality. Whether you find business ownership enjoyable or practical for this stage in your career (or a mix of both), you can follow our steps above to open your mechanic shop up to success. With these tips, you’ll become a 5 star mechanic in no time.