A friend of mine who owns a body shop always swore marketing and advertising were a waste of time and money, but now he’s singing the blues.
When things are going well and the cars are coming through the doors, many shop owners never even think about marketing and advertising---until now. If you’re currently doing half your normal volume and walking around in a haze, I could say “I told you so,” but that’s not how I roll.
With most shops reporting a 50% drop in business since mid-March, shops that never thought marketing was essential are sitting around scared and unprepared.
This is why I’ve always said marketing is not a “start and stop” thing. It should always be idling in the background and tailored based on car counts and the time of the year, but to do zero marketing is a mistake that is even more evident now.
We all know by now the COVID-19 global pandemic is going to change our lives forever, and the way body shops operate as well. It is already causing body shops to reevaluate their thinking about current and future advertising and marketing campaigns to accommodate social distancing and work-from-home protocols initiated to combat COVID-19.
How does the future look for body shops post-pandemic? Who will survive, thrive or meet their demise in a new world of market adjustments, stronger competition and an ever-increasing demand for marketing that will address and comfort consumers during these uncertain times?
Some shops have already redirected their marketing efforts, while others have just eliminated them altogether. They didn’t do it because they’re anti-marketing---they did it to survive as their car counts dropped and they were forced to furlough people.
“If it comes down to making my payroll versus maintaining our social media or email marketing, it’s a pretty easy decision,” one shop manager told me recently.
Shops that could afford to keep the marketing machine rolling along began tailoring their advertising to accommodate these indeterminate several months. With fewer people in their vehicles, some shops decided to nix things like radio advertising---both satellite and terrestrial---outdoor advertising---billboards, bus boards and other signage---and some mobile apps that target drivers in their cars.
Shops are now heavily pushing things like pickup/drop-off services, free car washes for customers and photo estimates, as well as safety protocols for customers and their employees.
One thing that has changed dramatically during stay-in-place orders is companies have realized letting their employees work at home is not a bad thing. In fact, many businesses have found out people working virtually are even more productive.
Some large high-tech companies such as Oracle, Facebook and Apple have asked their employees to work virtually with no immediate plans to change the plan. So, how do body shops get their marketing messages to those people who are in their homes 90% of the day?