Top Shops Collision Repair

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Creating connections

ABRN's 2015 Top Shops are using social media to connect to multiple communities
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 09:00
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ABRN's 2015 Top Shops are using social media to connect to multiple communities

Maintaining a presence on social media is essential for gaining and retaining customers, and you can’t attend the social media party as a wallflower. Actively forming connections with coworkers, your community, and the industry at large and then showcasing those connections through social media posts functions as indirect marketing for your business and benefits everyone involved.

First we’ll take a look at how to approach your social media management in order to have an effective presence—what to post and why—and then we’ll see how some of our ABRN Top Shops are using their social media sites to engage customers and connect to various communities.  

Show off your shop with Instagram

Don’t think of Instagram as just another social media outlet. Instagram is remarkably different in that it capitalizes on creativity and is predominantly visually-driven, not information-driven. In other words, if you want to effectively use Instagram for marketing purposes, you have to do so through showing, not telling. You can promote the image of your shop and business by sharing pictures and videos that are friendly, clean, and modern.

Both content and style are important in your pictures and videos. Keep the content, or subject, of the image simple, dynamic, and uncluttered. Use Instagram’s filters and editing options to make your pictures pleasing to your viewers’ (and potential customers’) eyes. Once again, Instagram is about tapping into your creative side.

That being said, collision repair is highly visual, so more often then not, you won’t have to do too much work to make a statement with your pictures. Post dramatic before and after photos or highlight custom paint work. Be sure to ask for your customer’s permission before you post a picture of his or her vehicle on social media. Of course, you can also make posts sans cars that feature your employees, shop environment, community involvement, etc.

D&S Automotive Collision and Restyling shows off one of their finished products.

If you’re still not convinced that Instagram is right for your shop, consider these last two advantages. You can share your polished Instagram photos on Facebook and Twitter. Thus, at the very least you can use Instagram for its editing options to supplement your Facebook and Twitter pages.

Secondly, according to the Pew Research Center Demographics of Key Social Networking Platforms study, 53% of Instagram users are 18-29 years old, which is a significantly larger population of users in this age group than there is on Facebook or Twitter. Accident frequency is greater among younger drivers, so don’t miss the opportunity to engage millennials. If they become a follower, they could potentially become a customer for life!

County Line Auto Body used a filter to add dimension to this vehicle facelift.

What to post

So-so social media won’t cut it. Social media users only see about 10 percent of your content, so you have to make sure all of your posts are attention-worthy. Many marketing companies (Vizoop, 5 Stones Media, for example) advocate the 50/30/20 rule for social media posting.

50 percent: Entertaining content

People do not follow businesses, brands, and shops on social media because they want to be sold products or services. They want to be acknowledged, entertained, an educated as a human being, not as a pocketbook. Thus, you have to provide interesting and engaging posts that differentiate your shop from all the others and keep your fans coming back. While all of your social media content should engage your audience, 50 percent of your posts should be dedicated to fun, entertaining content. Share memes, videos, pictures, and blogs—industry related or otherwise—that will cultivate interactions. 

The purpose of this kind of posting is to create activity: likes, shares, favorites, and comments. If your social media sites are void of interactions, new potential followers (customers) visiting your pages will likely dismiss what your shop has to offer because others are not responding to your posts and information.

These posts need to be representative of the kind of shop you run—friendly, modern, knowledgeable, courteous, etc. Think critically about how the content you post will affect your image and your followers—a couple of spelling mistakes or a series of slanted political posts can turn people away.

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30 percent: Tips and news

More and more people are relying on Facebook and Twitter to get their daily news. According to a study by the Media Insight Project, 47 percent of millennials say that getting news is a main motivation for logging on to their Facebook account, and 88 percent of them regularly get news from the site.

This statistic does not mean that you should feel responsible for providing your fans and followers with every bit of news under the sun. Just as the goal of your shop is to provide quality and value, you need to provide quality and value for your social media audience. Important car-related posts, whether it’s industry news or automotive tips, are helpful to your followers. You can also post news and information concerning community events.

Sharing information about industry influencers and your surrounding community builds your reputation and your customers’ trust. While providing useful content, you are also showing that you are connected with the world outside of your shop, that you care about being current and in the know.

If you are wondering how you’re going to be able to accrue a slew of news articles, remember that you can follow other shops, industry associations, and news sources on your social media sites. As you’re logging in to your page every day to make posts, you can see what other groups are talking about and share those links.

20 percent: Shop services

20 percent of your social media posts should be for selling your shop’s services. However, you have to do so in a creative, not-so-obvious way—your selling posts should blend in with your entertaining and informative social media content. For example, during the autumn months you could create posts that alert your followers to the damage leaves can cause to a vehicle’s paint while advertising your paint services.

This post is both generally helpful to your followers and keeps your shop top of mind when your fans look over their cars for paint damage.

How NOT to do YouTube videos
By David Rogers | Contributing Editor

Videos are the next big trend in social media, but before you dive in and start posting videos for your shop, make sure you DON’T make these rookie mistakes:

1 – DON’T make fun of your customers.
Customers may not know as much about their car as you do, but that doesn’t give you permission to talk down to them, especially behind their backs in a public video. NEVER badmouth your customers or their cars. It embarrasses your customer and offends them.

2 – DON’T put your customers at risk.
If you’re recording videos at your shop, don’t forget to look around before you press record. Leaving identifying information in the shot, like visible license plates, car color/make/model, or personal belongings can leave your customers vulnerable. Just like you wouldn’t film an actual customer without permission, you shouldn’t include belongings or information that can be tied back to them in your video.

When you want to feature a customer’s car, you have two options. One, get their permission. Two, remove any trace that can link them back to their car – this includes the small things, like pendants hanging from the rear view mirror. Better yet, do both!

3 – DON’T forget who’s watching.
Don’t post a video for the sake of posting a video. The videos you create and share must serve a purpose – for you and for the people watching the video. Like any marketing, your YouTube videos should have a goal and an effective message.

The same rules that guide your behavior behind the counter should guide your video content. Educate, never sell. Speak in a language they can understand. Provide value with useful content.

Before you get out the camera and start rolling, make sure you create videos that will work for your business – and avoid these mistakes!

Putting it into practice

Balancing this three-pronged approach to social media may seem overwhelming, especially since a certain level of forethought and creativity is needed. You don’t need to follow the 50/30/20 ratio to an exact science; just keep the rule in mind as you are evaluating and planning your social media posts. Keep a notebook or make a note in your smartphone dedicated to post ideas. Remember that variety is the spice of life—have a mix of videos, images, text, memes, and links across the three categories.

But most importantly, you can’t take a break from social media! The process of gaining and retaining followers is a continuous cycle—you need a constant flow of valuable and engaging posts (ideally three to five posts daily) to have an effective social media presence.

The faces behind the name

One of our Top Shops, Braxton Automotive in Atlanta, Georgia, comments, “We don’t use our social media for business necessarily, but to build relationships and let our followers know that we’re people too.”

As the 50/30/20 rule reveals, 80 percent of posts should be helpful and entertaining. If 80 percent of your posts were ads, your social media sites would come off as spam—you might as well be a robot. This rule expresses the notion that customers want to know that there is more to a shop than just its services. They want to know the people behind the repairs.

However, with social media there is no such thing as a separation between the shop and its operators. Social media is incredibly valuable in that it creates transparency between two—they become one in the same. You can market the quality of your services by showcasing your employees, personality, that you’re involved in the community and industry, committed to training, etc.

Here are some examples of how our Top Shops are connecting with their customers, community, and the industry on social media and bolstering their business at the same time. 

Customer service

ACME Body Shop & Collision in South Portland, Maine made a post on their Facebook page, including pictures, about rescuing a customer’s ring that was stuck in the center console of her vehicle. This light-hearted post showed a unique side of ACME’s customer service. Simple gestures and posts like these let your followers see that helping customers is the top priority. Of course, always ask for your customers’ permission if you can use their picture, name, and/or information in a post.

ACME Body Shop & Collision made a Facebook post about rescuing a customer's ring from the center console.

Community

Your shop occupies a physical space in your community—show how you fit in! G&C Auto Body, which as ten locations in California, writes, “This year we created a Facebook page that highlights events that are happening in our company, comprising mostly of charity events we host or participate in. With so many employees we are able to pool our collective resources to be a serious presence in our community support efforts.”

G&C won the Corporate Champion first place award for the funds they raised for the Sonoma County Human Race. The Facebook post G&C made about the accomplishment engaged multiple interactions with followers via likes, comments, and shares. G&C also shared their support for Breast Cancer Awareness by creating a “Road to the Cure” fundraising page benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and sponsoring a “Strike out Cancer” bowling event in their community. Using their Facebook page, G&C shared information and created contests for the events to raise awareness for the cause.

G&C Auto Body posted this photo to their Facebook page after winning the Corporate Champion award for the funds they raised for the Sonoma County Human Race.

While you’re a part of a town community, you also have a community within your shop. Share posts about employees’ work anniversaries and accomplishments or record a short video introducing your crew. County Line Auto Body in Howell, NJ shared a picture on Facebook of two employees completing online training for new software. Posts like these are a great way to show that your employees and shop are dedicated to training and quality repairs.

Everyone knows that a well-oiled machine performs best. When followers get a behind-the-scenes view of employees working together—whether it’s to repair a vehicle or to celebrate a coworker’s achievement—it builds their trust and confidence in your services.

County Line Auto Body's Facebook page featured a post about employees taking an online training course.

Industry at large

Social media is a vital part of marketing, but it’s also a great way to connect with the broader industry and to foster solidarity. Warrensburg Collision in Warrensburg, Missouri created a video series called “Warrensburg Collision Lean” on their YouTube channel. These brief, helpful videos are usually two-second improvements geared towards fellow shops to better organize their shop and office. Some of the videos cover topics such as organizing PPS cups, organizing with magnets and tool shadows, and desk improvement for the office. The desk improvement video features a fellow repair shop, Bob Sight Collision. Sharing helpful information and tips with other repair shops benefits the industry as a whole.

Click here to watch “Warrensburg Collision Lean – Ryan’s Toolbox Kaizen 2-second lean (Lots of 2-second improvements)”

Staying connected

D&S Automotive Collision and Restyling sums up social media marketing the best. They explain, “Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow us to show customers the exceptional body work and aftermarket accessory projects we complete. Social media also allows us to communicate professionally, and frequently, with customers and community connections.”

Cars allow us the freedom to connect to others, but social media gives us the opportunity to interact with thousands of people across a town, state, country, and globe within a single post. Embrace the magnificence of social media and reach out to your colleagues, staff, customers, community, fellow shops, and the industry at large. As these Top Shops have shown, sharing your experiences and knowledge online can only help your business grow.

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