We at Web-Est just recently posted a contest on our site requesting marketing ideas from our customers by offering a prize to the best idea. We are pleased to announce the winner!
The winner is....(drum roll please)...G&G Automotive from Texas!
The G&G Automotive team offered to us one of the keys to their success:
We purchase incident police reports weekly, since they are public data, then we offer free estimates to them by phone and buy post cards in the mail letting them know we work for them not the insurance company. The post card covers all the pros about my shop.
In a word: brilliant. After doing a little more research on that idea, we found that this is a practical and very efficient way to communicate with people in your community that are in need of your services. The incident report that local police departments produce should be public information, so all, including businesses, should be able to have access to it at a fee. Most police departments will not offer the report at an itemized rate, where you can pick and choose which incidents you would like to have information for. You will most likely have to purchase the entire report that includes a list of all the incidents in your area. These reports should be available on a weekly basis.
Upon purchasing the report, send post cards or business cards in the mail to the persons listed in the incident. By providing information about your services to a person in need of services your business provides offers an excellent opportunity to connect with potential customers your community directly. In the post card, include information about your business that will seem relevant to the customer: special pricing, works with all insurance companies, willingness to cover the deductible if over a certain amount, free transportation and estimates, etc. Make it easy to read, yet directly to the point. The pricing of getting post cards developed is not much. An internet search of printing companies that provide post card services shows that 1,000 post cards cost only $100. That many post cards should last 6 months to a year...well worth the $100.
Do some research in your area to see if the local police department offers the incident police report to the community. Of course, since the decision to offer that information will be made by local officials, not state or federal, we can't guarantee that every municipality in the U.S. will offer this information. We encourage you to contact your local police department to see if these reports are offered to the public. Find the contact information to your local department by visiting usacops.com.
We were overwhelmed by the responses people provided in the contest, but the practicality and efficiency of the idea provided by our winner seems the most creative, yet accessible method for shops to attempt. Give it a try and let us know if it works out for you.
Below you will find honorable mentions from the contest:
-We accept referrals from new car dealers who have no bodyshop. In return, we buy the parts for the repair from the refering dealer, handle their warranty and used car repairs, along with sending back to the referring dealer any mechanical repair we do not perform here. We currently provide this service for 6 dealerships and the referrals provided by satisfied customers as a result of those referrals is incalculable.
-internet ads, flyers
-do seminars at the body shop for customers
And of course, a Web-Est staff favorite:
We give away a new Mercedes with every oil change. We hope to make up the difference on volume. So far its not working , but accounting says to give it 6 months. You know they are always right.
We don't encourage you try that strategy, but good luck with that.
Thanks for participating. Congrats again to G&G.
Web-Est provides a logic-based collision repair estimating program for $99 per month.