So for a hitter, he would say, think about these three things: 1) Keep your eye on the ball 2) Don’t move your head and 3) Finish your swing. But if you add in a lot of other things to think about while at the plate—not moving your feet; keeping your knees bent, etc.—it will only confuse you and keep you from doing the first three things right. Or at least that’s what my coach thought.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t hit a slider (or a curveball), but his advice stuck with me, and today, I often put his three-point plan into practice in my business and writing.
I strongly believe that many people in this industry are skilled at multi-tasking, but sometimes they “pile on,” and that’s when the problems begin. A body shop has thousands of moving parts, and a lot of things have to happen in perfect order for a repair to go right.
If you’re not dealing with a deluge of paperwork (which is increasing all the time), communicating with customers, DRPs, vendors and, of course, employees—on top of fixing a car without affecting your cycle time—it can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re most concerned about getting the cars out, marketing isn’t going to be a priority, and I understand that. But by doing it in small increments and concentrating on just three things, you’re more likely to thrive rather than just survive via your marketing.
It makes sense to do three things right, as opposed to doing a dozen things ineffectively. Very few companies can do it all, and that’s why they stumble sometimes. Remember HP’s TouchPad, New Coke, the Ford Edsel and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe? Could these be examples of major corporations that tried to do too much all at once? Maybe or maybe not—but at this point I’m rolling, so I’m going to stick to my theory of doing things threefold for maximum results.
The first thing you need to do—whether you’re a one-man shop with one bay or an MSO with 300-plus locations—is determine your path and goals with your marketing efforts. Concentrate on the audience you want to cater to—either the insurance companies or consumers. Once you can make this decision, the subsequent ones should follow more easily.
The average shop in the U.S. is more than 80% dependant on DRPs for their revenues, so if you determine that the three things you want to do right might fit into that category, there are a wide range of options. To retain its DRPs and interact regularly with the insurance agents that they work with, shops often produce and disseminate e-mail newsletters to keep them in the loop; set up social media platforms that are just for them; hold regular classes and other events for the agents and create special sections of their websites to accommodate and communicate with their DRPs.
If you are a shop that is more concerned about catering to the consumer, then there is an entirely different approach with many more options. Social media, e-mail marketing, broadcast advertising, community outreach, online advertising, outdoor advertising, blogging—there are literally hundreds of things you can do.
So pick three and work them for a while. After you see some real progress, maybe change the plan a little bit and alter your marketing goals? Things change quickly in the marketing game, so always be open to new marketing methods and approaches. Many successful shops beat the other guys down the street by embracing things such as online advertising and blogging before they become another flavor of the moment.
For a shop that hasn’t done any significant marketing in the past, it’s a big and exciting world out there. My first piece of advice is to take baby steps initially and don’t take on too much at first. Pick three things and put some resources behind them and commit to them for the duration.
How long should you stick with these three things before evaluating and re-shuffling them or abandoning them altogether?
Too many shops have unrealistic expectations about the results of their marketing. They will do a blog, for example, to boost their rankings on Google, but after 1–2 months, they aren’t happy with the results, so they bail. All of the work they’ve done up to that point has disappeared and now the blog sits there dormant and without any new content. They don’t realize that an out of date blog can actually hurt their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) due to inactivity.
Pare down your marketing efforts and concentrate on three things to achieve your goals and create new business. Stick with all three (one year at least) and you will see the benefits gradually and organically. Don’t try to do it all when it comes to marketing, but make the three things your priorities.
There are a lot of shops out there that do incredible work and garner top reviews from their customers and insurance partners, but unless they are marketing continually, no one will likely know. You can’t rely on the old “word of mouth” anymore, so focus and specialize with your marketing endeavors and thrive in a highly competitive market.
By working on three things and making sure you do them effectively, you will succeed and watch the numbers grow over time.