Building a pipeline of work via social media platforms like Facebook isn’t complicated and can be a very cost-effective way of finding new customers and getting their vehicles into your workshop.
In recent years it has become much easier to use social media for small business. The advances made by platforms like Facebook and Instagram which allow businesses to place ads and take bookings mean even those of us without specialist marketing knowledge can build our businesses.
This is important, as just 32 per cent of workshop owners told Capricorn’s State of the Nation Report 2020 they felt confident they can nail the marketing tasks required to bring in new business.
Many businesses (75 per cent) rely on word of mouth. As a point of comparison, 51 per cent are using Facebook. If that’s you, the question is: are you getting the basics right?
Decide what you want from social media before you advertise
There are two main ways to use social media to market a workshop:
- Build an online following where you can communicate directly with your customers
- Run ads aiming to increase sales to a targeted set of potential customers in your area.
While Option 1 can be very successful, it is a long-term strategy and requires significant investment and marketing skills. Independent Texan mechanic Scotty Kilmer is an example of someone who has built his brand and his business over many years by producing how-to videos for DIY mechanics. He is now the most watched mechanic on YouTube. The trust he has built with his audience has helped him build his customer base.
For most workshop owners, Option 2 will be the better route to take. It provides a much quicker and more measurable return on investment. By setting a manageable budget for advertising and targeting the right people with the right types of ads, you can increase your bookings in a cost-effective way.
On top of ads, you should also take advantage of social media messenger tools. If you’re not ready to try this, you can get your feet wet with ads alone and add it later.
At a minimum, you need to get the basics right, ensuring your shop looks great on any of the major platforms you decide to use — including Facebook, Instagram and Google My Business. LinkedIn is another powerful platform if you have a business-to-business strategy.
Make sure you keep the following up to date on all platforms:
- Business name
- Phone number(s)
- Opening hours (including holiday or event variations)
- A description of the services you offer
- Photo of the front of your building and other parts of your workshop
- Photos of you and your staff.
Setting up a social media sales pipeline
Potential customers want to get things done in as few steps as possible. If you’ve got a presence on channels like Facebook and Instagram, you should also make yourself available for bookings and enquiries using the Messenger functionality.
Run goal-oriented ads to motivate social media users in your area to consider booking with you for their next service or repair work. Prompt interaction by posing useful questions that would be worth considering:
- “When was the last time you checked your brakes? Book now to see if they’re safe.” (Customer goal: know my brakes will work when I need them)
- “Does your steering pull to one side while driving? Get it realigned today and get more life from your tyres.” (Customer goal: save costs on tyres)
- “Have you had your logbook service done? Keep your warranty valid with us, guaranteed.” (Customer goal: maintain warranty while saving money on servicing).
If someone sees your ad asking them when was the last time they had their car serviced, and you enable the button encouraging them to “book now” through Facebook, you make it very easy for them to complete their goal — and you can capture their booking while they are thinking about it.
The risk of this approach is that if you offer a chat service and aren’t responsive on it, you could lose customers right at the point when they are trying to book with you. Let’s look a bit deeper at that.
Messenger tips for busy workshops
If you are going to use Messenger to interact with potential (and repeat) customers, consider the following:
- Decide what you want from social media messaging services. Do you want to take bookings? Answer enquiries? Give free maintenance advice? Whatever it is, think about the specific purpose of the channel for your business and double down on it, keeping focus on the outcome.
- Consider buying a dedicated device for social media enquiries, like a budget-friendly smartphone or tablet and have it with a staff member at all times during the workday so they can respond swiftly. Set up the device so staff can easily take bookings and answer enquiries.
- Take advantage of the sophisticated automatic reply features in Facebook Messenger. You can access this via your business page and set up instant responses to set expectations, like “Thanks for your message, a team member will respond in the next 15 minutes.” You can also set up out of office responses for after-hours, directing people to your website to book their service. YouTube has many good tutorials on how to set it up, like this video.
Using social media channels effectively can provide a real boost to your business. But the key to success is to have a good social strategy and to execute it well. If you’re offering instant bookings from Facebook ads, make sure the links and the system work. If you’re offering a service on Messenger, make sure you can reply in a timely way.
Everything is about making business more efficient — and that’s for both you and the customer!
You can read the full State of the Nation Report here.