Making Marketing Moves for Specialized Repair Services
May 14, 2020—How many exclusive hybrid repair shops do you know of? Probably, not many.
It’s difficult to specialize in hybrid vehicle repairs because the service is highly reliant on the market that the shop is in. The market needs to have a lot of hybrid cars driving through the area. Some areas lack a concentration of these vehicles because the cars need to have access to charging stations. The cars might not be near highways because some hybrids get low gas mileage. The car needs to stay in an area where it's connected.
When a shop specializes, it narrows down the pool of customers. To be successful in specializing in these electric vehicle repairs, a repair shop needs to excel in marketing more than ever before.
Carolyn Coquillette, owner of Luscious Garage, a hybrid vehicle repair shop in San Francisco, Calif., has successfully branded her shop over the years. She first opened the repair shop in 2007. Like an earlier Ratchet+Wrench story said, branding your shop for hybrid owners is an art form that requires time and dedication.
Coquillette was not at all sure when she started if hybrid vehicles were going to be a “flash in the pan or if they’d break,” she says. Luckily for her, there was a demand.
Now that hybrids are much more common, repairers like Coquillette are seeing growth for connected cars. According to an Allied Market research report, the connected car market is projected to reach around $225 billion by 2027.
Coquillette, an innovator in one challenging market—the hybrid vehicle—shares her advice on how to market a repair shop that offers specialized service for vehicles like the connected car.
First, she says that a repairer needs to recognize he or she cannot know everything there is to know about repairing a certain vehicle. Early on, it’s important to set boundaries of when to stop attempting to fix an issue and bring in outside help.
To determine which type of vehicles you can repair, do your research. Graphs from the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center help provide information like which hybrid vehicles are sold the most. Based on CarMax sales data, one in every three hybrids and electric vehicles sold in 2018 went to a customer in California. Other top selling states were Oregon, Washington and Arizona.
Or, get to know the vehicle inside and out by buying the car for yourself.
Second, determine if your market has enough action for you to start offering the specific vehicle repairs. Research which vehicles are being driven in the area and look at the types of cars you might encounter.
Study your region's demographics and compare it to your own customer base.Websites (like City-Data.com) can provide information regarding demographics.
Third, get your name out to other businesses in the area. Market yourself to other dealerships and body shops in the area. If you can help those businesses perform a repair they can’t, you need to approach the conversation as a problem-solver. Say, “Hey you have this problem and we want to help you with it.”
Coquillette has advertised her shop on NPR, which provides a ton of publicity, and hosted nonprofit benefits at her shop. Shop owners could also leave business cards in the car's window as a form of passive yet effective marketing. Make sure the business cards are labeled with a phone number and address.