We all know about the rage that is going on with the Groupon-type services, and with many businesses, I see where it can be a really good fit. Examples would be in the fast food industry, and with companies that sell commodities like soap or shoes. Yet when it comes to the auto repair business, with just two exceptions, I feel that this type of marketing is a bad fit. Here’s why….
The most successful shop owners and dealerships know that they have to specifically target their customers, because they are aware of the price that’s paid when they have the wrong customers on the other side of their service counters. I’m talking about the customers who don’t take good care of their automobiles, they don’t have the money or creditworthiness to pay for your recommended services, or they are the do-it-yourselfers. This is why the successful operators will identify who their targeted customers are (in both demographics and psychographics), and direct their auto repair marketing campaigns toward those customers. This allows them to generate higher ARO’s, happier customers, more repeat business and higher profits.
On the other hand, with a service like Groupon you can bring in a lot of traffic, but odds are that the overwhelming majority of those leads will be the wrong kind of customers. Some shop owners attempt to filter their Groupon customers by setting a higher price on their oil service specials, which is a good move, but with no other filters or qualifiers in place, it’s still likely that the majority of these customers will only have one thing in common: They’re looking for the best price.
With that said, I do see two exceptions. I can see Groupon being effective for the shop owner who just opened up a new shop and is trying to generate traffic and community buzz, or the owner who has taken over a failing shop, and is trying to accomplish the same goals.
Lastly, I know that there are exceptions to every rule, and for some of you, programs like Groupon may work. But the kind of customer you are looking for, with rare exception, won’t find their new dentist, family doctor, or lawyer through Groupon-type promotions, because they’re looking for the right people… not the lowest price. I think it’s safe to say that your targeted customers won’t find a customer-centered business like yours through discounts alone either. It’s time to identify your targeted customers, and then direct all of your auto repair marketing campaigns toward the right people.