What Do I Need To Do When I Move My Auto Repair Shop To A New Location?
Author: Brian Walker
Moving an auto repair shop to a new location can be a fun and exciting time. It’s also a tremendous amount of work and can bring a lot of stress if the move isn’t planned out well.
This article is going to talk about what you need to do in your marketing when you move your auto repair shop to a new location.
I’m going to break this down into the steps you need to take before the move, during the move, and after the move. Many of these steps will overlap from one stage to another.
Before The Move
When you’re going to be moving your auto repair shop to a new location, the excitement should expand beyond what you and your team are experiencing. You should share that excitement with your clients. You may be thinking, “why would my clients get excited about me moving my business to a new location?”
When you move a business, there are many different reasons behind the move. Sometimes you need more space. Possibly you want more visibility. Maybe you’ve found an area that’s booming with growth and you want to be in the middle of that growth. Often you’re moving because you’ve been renting and now it’s time to own your own building.
Those may be the primary reasons you’re moving, and maybe your clients wouldn’t get excited about that. But, I bet if you look hard enough, you can find some things that are going to impact the clients positively that they can be excited about.
- Will you be getting new equipment that will allow you to do a better job of fixing cars?
- Will you have a nicer, more comfortable waiting area?
- Is the new location more convenient to get to?
- Will you be offering new services at the new location?
- Will your new, bigger shop allow you to see people more quickly when they have a need?
You see where I’m going with this. Find the things in this move that your clients can get excited about and promote THOSE things. Build excitement around the move. Show your clients how the move benefits them and press in on those benefits.
Create and Execute a Marketing Campaign
We’ve already talked about building excitement, but how and where do you do that? This is where a marketing campaign comes into play.
If you’re working with a marketing company that specializes in auto repair shops, this should make it easy for you. Talk to your contact at the agency, let them know what you’re doing, and they should be able to just take it and run with it.
If you’re doing all of your marketing yourself, you’ll need to plan everything out and put it into play yourself.
Building Your Marketing Campaign
First thing’s first: Get together with your team and brainstorm the benefits your clients are going to see from this move. Create a list of the problems you’ll be able to solve for them. How will you make their lives easier or better?
Next, plan out the various ways you’re going to promote your campaign. What I mean is, what are the marketing mediums or channels you’re going to use?
- Social media? If so, which platform(s)?
- Email marketing?
- Facebook ads?
- Press releases?
- Direct mail?
- Print collateral?
A good way to decide what mediums you’re going to use is to look at what you’re already doing in your auto repair shop’s marketing. If you’re already doing radio, get the radio station to create some new spots that mention the upcoming move. If you have a standing magazine ad, have your ad modified to include information about the coming new location. If you’re doing Facebook ads, adjust the budget to promote an ad about the upcoming move. You get the point. Make adjustments to the marketing you’re already doing.
Create Your Talking Points
Examine the benefits that you brainstormed and pull some micro-messages from those benefits. For example, if one of the benefits is that you’re moving to a location that’s more convenient for the majority of your clients, a micro-message might be “Getting Your Car Repaired Is About To Get Easier”.
The messages can be used in social graphics, billboards, ads, print collateral, and just about anywhere that a person’s attention can be had with a quick glance.
Create a Timeline
You need to be super organized about how, what, where, and when each piece of your marketing will be used. Get out your calendar. It can be a paper calendar, your Google Calendar, or whatever you want. On this calendar you’re going to decide when each part of your messaging will be released, and which medium will be used.
- October 4th – Convenience – Radio
- October 16th – Alignments – Email
- October 27th – Loaner Cars – Facebook/Instagram – Organic
- November 6th – Loaner Cars – Facebook – Paid
In the examples above, the messages are that you have a more convenient location, you’ll now have the ability to do 4 wheel computer alignments, and you’ll soon be offering loaner cars. The mediums being used will be radio, email marketing, organic (unpaid) social media, and paid ads on Facebook. The dates are self-explanatory.
Create this timeline, check it daily, and stick to it as much as humanly possible.
Examine Your Marketing Budget
At a time like this where you’ve invested in a new location, and very likely have made a large equipment purchase, it may be tempting to cut back on your marketing spend. This is NOT the time to do that. At the very least, spend your usual amount on marketing. Better yet, double down.
There’s not much more depressing than going from the high and excitement of moving to a new location to sitting in that new shop with no cars to work on. Set yourself up for success by investing heavily in your marketing.
Update All Of Your Print Collateral
When you move to your new location, you’re going to have a new address. You could possibly have a new phone number, and maybe even new branding (we’ll talk about that more below).
It just looks unprofessional to be in your new location after building all of that excitement – but your old business cards, brochures, checklists, invoices, thank-you cards, or other collateral that don’t properly reflect the new location.
I don’t care if you’d just purchased 5000 mirror hangers before you knew you were going to move. Throw them in the trash and order new ones with the correct information.
Order these well ahead of time so that you can give them to your clients and tell them that the new location is coming soon. If you don’t have all of the new info yet, such as the future phone number or branding, just order small quantities to get you through until you have all of the info.
Update Your Brand
Your brand is your logo, colors, and any other associated visuals like fonts and icons. If you’re in the position to be moving to a new location, your business and its brand have likely been around for a long time, and the brand may be dated or was never really great, to begin with.
When you move to that new location, you’re probably going to need new signage. As we’ve already discussed, your collateral will need updates – and you’re going to need to do some updates to your website as well.
With the investment in new signage, collateral, and website updates, now is the time to update your brand, if needed.
A word of advice. Work with a professional on this. Your brand is often the first impression people have of your company. Just because you think it would be cool to have a logo that’s a ratchet transforming into a tachometer doesn’t mean it’s a good representation of your company. Hire a professional, trust them, and take their advice. Your brand is so much more important than you think.
Put Up a “Coming Soon” Sign
If you’re leasing or buying an existing building, when you’re about 3 months out from moving in, it’s time to put up a “Coming Soon” sign. If you’re building a brand new facility for your auto repair shop, put the coming soon sign up when you break ground. You don’t want to put it up much earlier than that because you don’t want to be seen as a slow mover. People like people who take action.
In a perfect world, the coming soon sign will go up and passers-by will immediately see action being taken on that new location daily. Your customers will intentionally look every time they pass by to see the progress taking place.
If you’re rebranding, use the OLD (current) branding on your coming soon sign. This will bridge the disconnect between your old and new brand, and eliminate confusion. When they see your current brand in place for months on the coming soon sign, then see your new brand go into place on your signage, they’ll put 2+2 together and it will make perfect sense.
Take Lots of Pictures
During the construction phase, take lots of pictures. Even before, take pictures signing the lease or closing on your construction loan. Take pictures breaking ground. Take pictures putting up the coming soon sign. Take pictures of the construction, renovation, and equipment going in. Take pictures when you’re shopping for furniture and picking out paint colors. Every step of the way, take pictures.
Use these pictures on your social media and in your email marketing. Put them in the blog on your website. Tell the story. Get your audience involved. Post random pictures and ask questions about it. For example, show a couple of different paint colors on the wall and ask your audience which partner they think likes which color the best. If there is a disagreement like that when building, ask your audience to be the tie-breaker.
Have fun with it!
It’s perfectly fine for these pictures to be cell-phone pictures. There’s no need to get a photographer involved at this point.
Claim Your Online Directory Listings
When it comes time to move, you’ll need to update your address with the many online directories that have your business information. Make sure that you have access to your Google My Business listing now. It can take weeks to claim it if they require using a postcard for verification. You don’t want to realize you don’t have access when it comes time to update your listings. Get access to everything now. More on this later.
Notify Chambers of Commerce and Other Organizations
You’ll want to start getting the word out among the business community that the move is going to take place. Start with local organizations like your Chamber of Commerce and let them know that you’ll be moving. They are usually the hub of the local business community and they’ll help spread the word and make you aware of any opportunities where you can announce your plans.
Once the local organizations know of your intentions, notify the trade associations you are involved with. They can often help you in getting discounts on new equipment and connect you to people who specialize in helping auto repair shops with the various needs you’ll have when moving to a new location.
Some of the organizations you may want to notify of your move include:
- Chambers of Commerce
- Your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
- Your local Economic Development Organization (EDO)
- Downtown Development Districts
- Main Street Programs
- Automotive Trade Associations (ASA, IGO, MWACA, etc)
Be sure to ask your local SBDC, Main Street, and EDO offices about grants or incentives that may be available to you when moving to your new location. For example, in our local downtown development district, they offer painting grants or facade grants to help offset the costs of upgrading the building cosmetically.
Make Your Clients Aware
Using the same timeframe as what was laid out for the coming soon sign, begin to notify your clients of the upcoming move.
Put a sign up at your service desk and tell every client about the upcoming move when they pick up their car. If a client is likely to pick up their car after hours, tell them when they drop it off or while on the phone letting them know that their car is ready.
Have mirror hangers made that alert the clients of the new move. Make sure to express the excitement for the move on the mirror hanger. Bullet point how the move is good for them. Make sure that every car leaves the shop with a mirror hanger in place.
Use your social and email channels to send updates on progress and keep people in-the-know about the new location’s progress. People these days are busy, and just because you tell them once doesn’t mean they won’t forget the next time they go to drop off their car. If you don’t own your current building, there might be a new shop in your old location. Don’t give a good service advisor the opportunity to take one of your hard-earned customers.
Go through your client list and look for the clients who may not be seeing your social media updates or emails. These will usually be your older clients. Pick up the phone and call them. Make sure every client knows that you’re moving your auto repair shop to a new location.
Send out a direct mail piece to your entire database a couple of weeks before the move. Use this as an opportunity to invite them to your Grand Re-Opening, and if you are not opposed to coupons, include a coupon on the mailer.
Lastly, make a standard note that prints out on all invoices that includes the new address and, if applicable, new phone number. Have your service advisors circle it with a red marker while they are telling the client about the move.
A couple of months before the move takes place, send out a press release. This is a great way to get some free publicity about the move. Make sure to send it to any and all local news organizations. Make a list of these local news sources and ask your friends and family to tell you any others that they may know of. Call or email each of the news sources and ask how they prefer to receive press releases. Send it exactly how they ask that it be sent.
Do the same thing with automotive trade publications. These won’t do much for alerting your clients, but they’re great for helping you to rank better in the search engines. Always include a link to your website in the press release. When online publications place the press release on their website, you’ll get a free link back to yours.
Don’t forget – these press releases are good content for your website. Be sure and post them to the “News” or “Blog” section of your website.
During The Move
The time during the move is the shortest and easiest, and that’s a good thing because the physical act of moving is incredibly tiring and stressful. You’ll have your mind and energy in other places, so it’s best if someone else is handling your marketing for you – or at the very least – you need to have things scheduled out and automated ahead of time as much as possible.
Update Your Google Business Listing
Your Google My Business (GMB) listing is the most authoritative online resource for the location and contact information for your business. If you think your own website would be the most authoritative, think again.
Not only does the GMB listing typically display above your website when someone searches for your business by name, it’s also a resource used by many other online directories to ensure they have the correct information about your business.
Hopefully, you have claimed your GMB listing already. If so, it will simply be a matter of logging in and updating your address. Google will likely mail a postcard to the new address with a verification code that you’ll have to put in.
At this point, you should go ahead and update the pictures of your location in your GMB listing.
If you aren’t sure about what to do with your Google My Business listing, I have a free class that you can take here. It is a video series that will walk you through every step of setting up and optimizing your listing.
Update Your Citations
The internet likely has hundreds of citations on your business. A citation is simply any reference to your business that includes the business name, address, and phone number. These are most commonly in the form of an online directory. Examples of bigger directories would be Yellowpages.com or Citysearch. A smaller directory might be the business directory on your local Chamber of Commerce’s website.
You’ll want all citations for your business to be updated to have your new address, as well as any other information that has changed.
One of the easiest ways to update a large number of directories at once is to do an update with one of the directory listing services like Yahoo Local, MOZ Local, BrightLocal, or Yext. These services update your information with the big data aggregators and disseminate it down to many of the directories. This allows you to update the most impactful directory listings by updating your information in a single place. Note: these are all paid services.
Update Your Social Media Pages and Profiles
The social media channels you are using for your business may have addresses and contact information for your business. These are citations in themselves and can be quite powerful ones at that. Facebook is the big one. Foursquare, though somewhat forgotten as a former social media channel, is another powerful data source when it comes to the citation provided.
Check all of your social media channels and update your business information to include the new address.
Update Your Website
Make sure to update your website to have your new address and contact information. If you have a map embedded into the website, you’ll need to update that as well. Be sure to check every page of the website for location-specific information within the text. If your move is such that your new location is in a different city, you’ll need to check every word on the website and update it to the new city. Don’t forget the title tags and meta descriptions as the city name is almost surely included in them.
Be sure to update any Schema information on the website. Schema is often included on the website as a .json file that you won’t be able to see. You probably have no idea if this exists on your website as it’s not something you can see. Ask your web developer to update the Schema information on your website. This is super important!
Keep The Photos and Videos Coming
During the move, make the time to get out your camera and take some photos. If you’re working with a marketing company, get the photos to the agency in real-time. Share what’s happening and keep your audience involved. Shoot some videos and do some show and tell. Go live on Facebook.
Your clients are more interested in this than you would think. Any business worth its salt wants to have real relationships with its clients. Sharing this experience is a great relationship builder.
After The Move
Once the move has taken place, you’ll really have to drive home the fact that you’re in your new location. You should have a pretty big sense of accomplishment and should be enjoying your new auto repair shop. You’ve done a lot of work and you should be proud of yourself and your team.
You have a lot to show off and tell people about. Keep that momentum going!
Notify Business Organizations That The Move is Complete
Just like before the move, you need to let the organizations that you do business with know that the move has taken place and you’re in your new facility.
This is the same list of organizations that you notified already. Let them know you’ve moved, and invite them to come see your new place.
A Day of Celebration
Set aside a day to celebrate your businesses’ success by inviting the community to visit. Every person you can get inside of your business leads to that much more chatter about your shop.
Most Chambers of Commerce do ribbon cuttings for new businesses. It’s commonplace to also do a ribbon-cutting when a business opens a new location.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony is a place to have the local business community come by and see the new location. There are usually food, drinks, and networking at these events. Remember, you’re the host of the party, so put on a show. Have the best food, the best drinks, and some nice giveaways. Make your ribbon-cutting the one that others try to one-up.
Your Chamber of Commerce will likely share photos of the event on their Facebook page and in their email. They often have a relationship with the local newspaper and will have a recap of the event placed as an article.
The Grand Re-Opening is for your clients. Typically it would be done on the same day as your ribbon-cutting but would be done after-hours. It’s not much different from the ribbon-cutting except for the guests. This is a place to invite your customers in and thank them for their part in your success.
Just like earlier in the day at your ribbon-cutting, you’ll want to have food, drinks, and giveaways.
Do Anything To Get People Into Your Building
Your auto repair shop is probably never going to look as good as it does in the days after it first re-opens. It’s clean, organized, and still has that new-shop smell. Now is the time when you want to get as many people as possible inside of that beautiful building.
In addition to the Ribbon Cutting and Grand Reopening, there are many types of events you can do to get your community inside the walls of your shop. Below I’ve listed some ideas to get you started.
- Grand Re-Opening
- Chamber After-Hours
- Host your local Economic Development Foundation’s board meeting
- Host a Car-Care Clinic
- Invite the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts to earn their Car-Care Merit Badge
- Ask your BNI Group to have a meeting at your facility
- Become a dropoff point for Toys for Tots
You should always be thinking about how you can get people in the walls of your building even if it’s not to spend money. Once someone has been inside of your shop, you’re much more likely to be their first thought when they need auto repair.
Steal People’s Attention
It’s time to get goofy. You need to do things outside of your business that cause a pattern interrupt.
Put flags out by the street. Hang streamers in the parking lot. Rent the wacky waving inflatable tube guy. Put a giant inflatable gorilla on your roof.
Does this sound like a marketing ploy for a used car dealership yet? It should because those guys know how to get attention.
These tactics have a shelf life. The giant gorilla on the roof will eventually blend in and not be seen once people have passed it a handful of times. Use this kind of marketing sparingly so that when you do use it, it works.
Go Meet Your Neighbors
Remember back in the day when people used to visit the new neighbors with a piping hot apple pie in hand? Yeah, me neither. But I do remember the old television shows that portrayed this type of welcome when I was a kid. I suppose at some point a long time ago people actually did this.
Because it’s a long-lost art, it will take people by surprise and make them remember you.
So figure out what your “apple pie” is and go deliver it to your neighbors. Make a great impression and they’ll probably become a referral source if not clients themselves.
It’s Time For Professional Photography
Now that you’re in your new shop and all set up – you have your impressive new signage in place, everything is new, sparkly, and clean – it’s time to hire a professional photographer,
This is the photography that you’re going to use on your website and in places like your social media cover photos and profile pictures. You can use it in magazine ads, billboards, and a host of other places.
Again, your shop may never look better than it does now, so capitalize on the opportunity and get the best photographs possible.
Send A Postcard To The Surrounding Neighborhoods
This is a perfect opportunity to use that new photography. Send a direct mail piece to the neighborhoods that surround your shop. EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) is an affordable way to put a postcard in the mailbox of every house on a mailing route. You don’t need to purchase lists and you don’t need to know the names of the people you’re mailing.
The messaging for the postcard should hit the pain-points of the audience. What problem do people have with auto repair that you solve? Do you fix the stuff other shops can’t? Do you get people in and out faster? Do you provide loaner cars so that people don’t have the inconvenience of being without their car? Are you cheaper? Are you better? Are you nicer?
What’s the thing that makes your audience dread going to the auto repair shop? If you don’t know, there are 2 exercises I’d recommend that you do.
- Go through the customer avatar worksheet
- Read the book “Building a Storybrand”
Both of these will help you to understand who you’re marketing to and what it is that they want from an auto repair shop.
Send Another Press Release
Finish everything up by sending out another press release. Send it to the same people you sent the first one to.
Include information about the move and give tiny recaps of the events you’ve held.
Get quotes from customers and add some quotes of your own. Don’t forget to include a link back to your website.
Marketing around the relocation of an auto repair shop can be a daunting task among the work of the actual move. The more planned out and systematic you are with your approach, the easier it will be.
We hope this article helps you make your move go as seamlessly as possible without losing any clients in the process.
If you need help and would prefer to have a team in your corner making most of these things happen while you focus on moving your business, we’d love to be the team that helps.
Give us a call at 985-662-8419 or go here to schedule a demo.