Small business owners face big challenges, especially in the first few years. According to The Wall Street Journal, three out of every four new businesses fail, and auto body shops are no exception. If you want to keep your doors open, you must market both yourself and your business aggressively from day one. If you have the budget to do so, consider hiring a marketing expert to get the word out, but if you're forced to go it alone, give these tried and true tactics a go:
Build Your Online Presence
Every 21st-Century business needs a website, and it should be optimized for mobile users. Mobile users are those who do much of their shopping and Internet surfing from mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets, and they encompass a large portion of the population. Build a website to showcase your new business and make it user-friendly and convenient for potential customers to navigate. Offer small coupon deals to get people through the doors -- offers such as discounted paint touch-ups or glass repair -- and then wow them with your abilities and your stellar customer service. Advertise your website on local classified pages that feature cars for sale.
Participate in Car Shows
Set up at local car shows to make your presence known to local car enthusiasts. This is the clientele you need to woo in order to remain in business. Offer a chance to win a nice giveaway, such a free paint job, if visitors leave their street and email addresses. You can use these later to send out small samples that might include your business card made into a refrigerator magnet or a free car-themed item such as a small ice scraper or car freshener. People love getting freebies, and as long as the ones you're giving out contain your contact information -- or even better, a QR code that points to the landing page of your website -- customers will find you. Use the email addresses to send targeted promotions to people you know are already interested in cars.
Get to Know Your Auto-Conscious Neighbors
Enough can never be said about networking. Going door-to-door in your neighborhood and getting to know the other car-related business owners can net you big rewards. You own an auto body shop, and the guy across the street owns a detailing service? Make friends right away. Maybe you can help each other out by referring customers. Other local businesses to target include car washes, auto-supply stores, and tire dealerships. Offer to display the brochures of these local businesses at your cash register and ask them to do the same for you. When you begin seeing those regular customer stream through the doors, talk up your fellow shop owners and tell your customers to mention your name when they visit.
Choose Your Signage Wisely
Lastly, invest in quality signage that's eye-catching without being obnoxious, and have your signs professionally made and installed. Nothing is more off-putting than hand-lettered signage that's spelled wrong and looks amateurish. Your entrance is your first impression, make sure it's as professional as you are. Choose signage that screams auto body shop. Additionally, ensure your interior signage is easy to understand and accurate. Pay attention to expiration dates, and if a customer catches you out, remember -- he is always right.
Starting up a new business is always challenging, but if you do it well, it will reap many rewards. You'll acquire loyal customers, friends in the community, and profit in your pocket. Every town needs an auto body shop as seen at a site like http://www.centralaveautobody.com. Make sure yours is the go-to choice for car owners in and around your neighborhood, and then make sure you find cost-efficient ways to spread the word. As you become more established, take out radio and television ads to let people know that you're waiting just down the block to give them the best auto body repair in the area.