This is the first article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your auto body shop and make it a success.
The auto body shop business can be tough to start and run if you don't have a well-oiled marketing strategy. In this series of articles you will find the tools you need to fine-tune a winning auto body shop business.
Importance of a branded image
Branding your auto body shop is the first step to long-term growth. Some auto body shops make the mistake of skipping this step, and might do quite well until a market-savvy competitor comes along and takes a bigger piece of the pie. Crafting a thoughtful and creative brand identity that influences your customers can be a difficult task, but the effort is well worth it. A memorable brand that evokes just the right emotion will almost always win over a nameless, brandless competitor. Brands build trust.
If your auto body shop is not branded, then you're just another mechanic. There's nothing to differentiate your company from the competition. You have no competitive edge. But if you can come up with a compelling brand that demonstrates who you are and what you can do for your customers, you can elicit emotion, spur recognition and fuel sales.
How to identify your branded image
Take the time to fully explore your options so you can craft an image that speaks directly to your customers.
Apply conceptual thinking with modern motivators to craft a branded image that can easily double or triple sales - and even more - throughout time. The following five steps will help you identify your brand:
Define your niche - What is your niche in the auto body shop industry?
Do you perform collision repair work or do you custom-build hot rod bodies? Do you cater to personal projects or commercial businesses, or do you work exclusively for the upper class or racing professionals? Your niche market and your brand are two different things: your niche is who you cater to; your brand represents the psychologically based ideals that make you appealing to that market. Ask yourself how you differ from the competition and focus on those elements to help you define your niche.
Describe your benefits - What you do is one thing; how it benefits your customers is another. Make a list of your features and benefits so you can identify why your customers should choose your auto body shop instead of another. Be creative, and ask others for help here - sometimes there are benefits to doing business with you that you have yet to recognize. Your current customers can be an excellent source of information here.
Know your customers - List your top customers and identify shared traits so you can create a "perfect customer" profile. Why do your customers buy from you? What are the key services you perform for them? Once you've identified your primary customers, consider your secondary customers. Perhaps you specialize in classic cars, but also take on collision repair jobs in between "perfect" customers. Sometimes, your "secondary" customers make up the bulk of your income. If you understand who your customers are, you can begin to establish mutually beneficial business relationships.
State your mission - Where does your company stand today, and where do you want it to be in two years? Five years? Ten years? Your mission should encompass who you are and where you're going.
Sum it all up - Your brand is an expression of all of these things. Jot them down and brainstorm potential taglines that represent your company's core identity. Pick the most memorable.
Branding through design
As an auto body shop owner, you're familiar with design. Your artwork cruises the streets every day, seen by hundreds, thousands and potentially millions. Your task is to convert the intricacies of your auto body work into a singular branded image that expresses what you do, how you do it and who you do it for.
Your company colors, logo, corporate identity package, website, ads and other collateral are all a reflection of your brand; so familiar, cohesive design must be applied to all mediums. In time, anyone should be able to see your logo and instantly know who you are and what you stand for. Once you achieve that, you've developed a remarkable auto body shop brand.