Body Shop Owner Triples Advertising Budget During Pandemic

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In addition to an aggressive radio ad campaign, Bob Juniper owns the lion’s share of every billboard location available in town.

Bob Juniper, owner of Three-C Body Shop, Inc. in Columbus, OH, has always been a strong believer in marketing and advertising.

While many shops all over the country are abandoning much of its marketing during these uncertain times, Juniper is tripling his budget from 5% to a full 15%. That’s right---he is spending an unprecedented amount of money on advertising even with an uncertain immediate future for his shop and his crew.

History often repeats itself and Juniper knows this all too well. In 2008 when the economy imploded, most shops scaled down marketing and advertising, but not Juniper. He saw the opportunity and seized it, and when everything returned back to normal approximately 18 months later, he had captured more of the market in Columbus.

When the pandemic hit in March, Juniper called his advertising vendors and told them it was go-time. The prices were right and the market was wide open, so Juniper starting negotiating a series of unprecedented long-term deals.

“No one else is advertising, especially body shops,” he said. “It feels like I’m stealing, because they are discounting everything. When all of this is over, I will still have these amazing rates. I am saving an enormous amount of money.”

The Columbus area---home of The Ohio State University---is highly competitive, with more than 130 body shops all vying for the top spot. Since he has chosen not to work with any DRPs, Juniper focuses on consumer advertising, primarily via radio ads and billboards.

In a crowded market with one body shop per every 7,000 people, Juniper takes the high road and won’t ever take the easy way to profit, he said.

“There are some shops here who advertise the fact that they will pay people's deductibles, which is bad for all of us. Every dollar we put into our marketing adds value to our business at least equal to that, so it’s one of the smart investments we can take.”

Juniper has captured more than 70% of the market when it came to outdoor advertising in Columbus.

“I own 95 billboard locations here in town, so if you drive more than five minutes in every direction, you will see us,” he said. “They aren’t all in ideal locations, but by buying in volume, the average price is low. We rotate 10 different themes and focus on educational topics like anti-steering, safety, anti-texting and we also promote our community efforts, our car certifications and our app.

"We have used literally a hundred different messages over the years and we’ve become well-known from our billboards. People come up to me all the time and mention our most recent billboard.”

In addition to being a master marketeer, Juniper is also an inventor. In 2012, he created the Pink Button accident-help app with Leo Daugherty III, the owner of Rampart Hosting, Inc. Currently, he has 1,500 people using it and it brings him four to five cars every week.

The formula Juniper uses to determine how much money he should spend on marketing and advertising during non-pandemic times is fairly simple, he said.

“I have figured out over the years how much I save by not giving the insurance companies discounts through DRPs, and I use those funds on marketing. In addition, I retain full control on each repair and run a steady three-week backlog all the time, so who needs DRPs?”

Radio advertising has also been extremely effective for Juniper and Three-C Body Shop, he said.

“Thirty years ago, we did our first radio campaign and since then, we’ve produced more than 400 radio spots. We realized that television advertising doesn’t work well anymore for us because people now tape their shows and skip the commercials.”

Juniper isn’t afraid to use his image in many of his billboard ads, and he also does all the voiceovers for his radio spots. They also have a catchy jingle that is well-known, he said.

“In fact, customers sing it to me all the time.”

Back when she was 8 years old, Juniper’s daughter, Jade, got her 15 minutes of fame as a local radio spokesperson.

“We put her on the air and she was fantastic,” he said. “Listeners like the fact that we are a family business and these commercials reinforce it. Jade picked up all of the lingo quickly and now she is 19 and she still does an ad for us whenever she can. She is now in her third year of college and looking at a major in business.”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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