In all industries, there are sworn by marketing practices that will eventually become archaic, due to emerging technologies and other factors. Like anything else, times change and things that were working 10-15 years ago are no longer the best path to take.
If you’ve owned or managed a shop for more than a decade, you’ve likely encountered one or more employees who had issues with alcohol or drugs. Discovering the problem and then figuring out the right strategy to deal with it can be tricky.
Candy Finnigan is one of the interventionists featured on the Emmy-nominated reality show Intervention (A&E) and the author of When Enough is Enough. In this interview, we discussed the effectiveness and success rate of interventions while she provided her insights into drugs in the workplace.
Most body shop marketing types know that well-written content is an important part of any successful marketing campaign. It’s like anything else, just doing it isn’t enough and content creation and management isn’t a “check box” type of thing.
For many years, body shops, from small independents all the way to massive MSOs, were reluctant to jump into the Internet game, hesitating to design top-notch sites, creating apps and committing to blogs for the long-term.
One of the items on my marketing to-do list for 2015 (January 2015 ABN) was entitled Get a Blog and I can’t take credit for it, but there are more body shop blogs out there now than ever in the collision industry. Four years ago, there were 156 million blogs in existence and today there are more than 180 million worldwide. Shops that didn’t even have web sites now have them complete with blogs that contain weekly posts, sometimes more. Blogs are no longer a fad or even a trend—no, they’re here to stay and gaining traction more and more as they stampede into the World Wide Web.
Many body shops will use a piece of equipment, paint or other products in their shops on a trial basis before they decide to purchase them. They will use a computer management program to see if it truly works and if their staff is comfortable before integrating it into their day-to-day operations. But, why do some of these same body shops sign up and spend significant amounts of money with marketing companies before checking their references or even doing their basic due diligence?
It all started as a forum where painters, techs, estimators and anyone else working in the collision industry could vent, get advice, network and share ideas with each other on a national stage. Roughly six months ago, Marc Gabbard, owner of GSR Custom Collision Repair in Yakima, WA, was looking for a way to communicate with other technicians out there in the World Wide Web, so he decided to set up a Facebook page and named it Collision Repair Technicians United.
One of the great things about the collision industry is that so many people working at body shops have other talents and passions that they pursue when they’re not working as body techs, painters, estimators or front office personnel. I met a paint tech who is also a well-known tattoo artist, and a parts guy who is also a professional ballroom dancer. A woman who runs the front office for a shop in northern California sings opera, and the owner of a shop in the Southwest is a renowned muralist.
I often ask body shops, "What is your budget for marketing and advertising?" and they look at me like I just asked them to explain quantum physics (which I’ve learned is tougher than rocket science). You don’t need to come up with a complex algorithm to devise a budget, but once you see the numbers, you might not like them. The problem is that many body shop owners have had bad experiences with marketing or advertising and now they’re gun shy to say the least. In many cases, they made unwise decisions and now the word “marketing” turns their stomach. “Our Yellow Pages ad didn’t work,” one shop manager said. (Anyone could have told you it’s a dying medium)
There are two ways to promote your shop: 1.) Advertising and 2.) Marketing. Advertising is when you buy space or time or impressions and you pay a fee for the exposure. Marketing is an enormous category that includes product marketing, branding, re-branding and a whole list of other things that are used to hopefully bring you new business while strengthening your position in your market.
For many years, body shops have not been able to precisely quantify how much adhesive they are using on each particular repair. By basically guessing and operating in the dark when it comes to figuring out the volume used to perform plastic repair and related procedures, shops have not been getting properly reimbursed from the insurance companies, in many cases.
You’ve decided to do some advertising—in your local newspaper, radio station, TV or cable station, but are wondering what can you say in your ads without getting into trouble? If your ad is effective, consumers will hopefully see it and/or hear it, but also remember—your competitors will too! Even though you have the best of intentions, if your advertisement is deemed false and misleading, it could become your worst nightmare.
Body shops and the collision industry in general have taken on the role of imparting useful safety information to its customers. If you’ve ever read a body shop blog, you will often find short posts like Leaving Kids Alone in Cars-Know the Risks and Consequences; I Put the Wrong Fuel in My Vehicle! What Should I Do? ; Tire Safety Tips and 3 Misconceptions about Passing on the Road, for example.
But isn’t there a conflict of interest there, because body shops make money when people get into accidents, right? Bruce Miles, a blogger for the collision industry disagrees.