Multi-Shop Operators (MSO)

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Twelve ways MSOs can build name-recognition, win new customers, and encourage referrals
Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 06:00
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Post social media trivia contests

ABRA also regularly posts trivia questions about the company, putting everyone who submits the correct answer through any of ABRA’s social media channels into a drawing for a $50 Visa gift card. The answers to the questions can generally be found quickly at the company’s website or Facebook page. About a week after it announced its acquisition of 23 Kadel’s Auto Body shops in the Pacific Northwest, for example, the ABRA trivia question asked what three states those shops were in.

Put some humor in your ads

People love to share humorous videos on Facebook. Incorporating some humor in your ads can get them seen even when you’re not paying to place them on TV or other media outlets. Fix Auto Canada last year launched an ad campaign to “redefine the F-word.” The ads (www.youtube.com/FixAutoCanada) showed unexpected minor collisions (in one, a shopping cart slams into a car), and just as the vehicle owner appears ready to blurt out a profanity starting with the letter F, the announcer cuts in to say, “Fix Auto: The first word that should come to mind after an accident.”

Offer website specials

Gerber Collision and Glass lists several special offers for potential customers on its website, including $100 off on customer-pay jobs of $500 or more. For customer-pay jobs of $250 or more, the customer can instead choose to receive a one-year membership in an emergency roadside assistance program along with an auto safety kit that includes a flashlight, first aid kit, etc.

Let Uber do the shuttling

Most MSOs offer free rides to work or home for customers who have dropped off their vehicle at the shop. Chilton Autobody has done this, too, but now no longer uses its own employees to do the shuttling. With its 10 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, also the hometown of Uber, Chilton now offers customers without rental car coverage a free $25 Uber ride to or from a Chilton shop.

Team up with a sports franchise

Soccer is huge in Portland, Ore., so the local Fix Auto USA franchises in the area have been a sponsoring partner of the Portland Timbers major league sponsor team since 2011. Like many MSOs around the country, the Portland area Fix Auto shops also for years have worked with insurance companies and vendors to repair vehicles to be donated to families in need.

This year, the Fix Auto shops combined the two programs, surprising a military veteran and his family chosen by USO Northwest with the gift of a car during halftime at a sold-out Timbers game. More than 20,000 fans cheered as Army Captain Thad Conwell, who was deployed in Afghanistan from 2012-13, received the keys to a Subaru Forrester brought out onto the field. Conwell had no idea his family was receiving anything that night other than free VIP tickets to the game for his family.

“This was just an opportunity to give the kiddos a fun evening; for [Fix Auto] to have a great automobile and all these wonderful people to help me out, I can’t thank you enough,” Conwell said after the presentation. “This is really a wonderful evening.”

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