PR ideas to help auto-repair shops build trust with their local community
The auto-repair industry, sadly, has an image problem. This is confirmed by two surveys conducted by AAA and Utires, that both suggested that over a third of drivers put off car repairs due to anxiety or distrust around visiting mechanics.
This inherent distrust among consumers means that auto-repair businesses need to do more than most to win the favor, and eventually the business, of their local community.
With this in mind, here are five local PR campaign ideas for auto-repair companies.
Occasionally offer free basic maintenance!
Given that a consequence of people’s distrust of auto-repair professionals is that they neglect maintaining their vehicle, auto-repair companies can make themselves out to be the good samaritan by penciling in one day a year where they offer free maintenance to customers.
The service that you offer for free does not need to be an expensive one. Simply the offer of a free oil check and change, and tire inflation can be enough to get a large number of people through the door.
If these free “customers” have a positive experience, then you should see some return visits for paid services.
Furthermore, you can reach out to local papers and magazines to promote this, earning valuable press links that help you appear more prominently in local searches.
We did this ourselves a few months ago, and were able to earn a feature in the second biggest paper in our city.
Collaborate with local driving schools to teach basic car maintenance to new drivers
Most mechanics already know that the average driver has a poor level of knowledge about keeping their car in a safe, roadworthy condition.
A lack of education around this is a serious blindspot in the driving school industry.
Auto-repair shops have the opportunity to fill this gap through creating content or even doing in person seminars with local driving schools and defensive driving course providers.
This not only helps you build familiarity with a new generation of drivers, but it can also have a longer term impact of making younger drivers feel more empowered in taking responsibility for their car’s maintenance. This should result in them taking more regular trips to the mechanic in the future.
Offer work experience opportunities or scholarships to local schools and technical colleges
Vehicle repair can offer an excellent career opportunity to some, particularly as it plays into a commonly held passion (cars) and it does not require a college degree.
Offering internships and work experience opportunities to local high schoolers will both allow you to become familiar with young people just at the point that they are becoming drivers, and can help carry good favour with parents and teachers at the school(s).
In addition to this, there is a big drive currently to get more women into the automotive industry. Therefore offering career support or scholarships that are particularly catered towards women can potentially see you capture press attention.
It may be worth creating a press release and sending it to journalists who have a track record of writing about feminism and gender equality when you launch your work experience program or scholarship.
Offer help in times of local crises
There are certain types of natural and human-caused disasters that specifically hamper people’s ability to use their car. Outdoor flooding, blizzards, and large scale acts of vandalism to vehicles are all examples of this.
In situations like this, auto-repair shops are in the single best position to offer support to people in the local community who have been negatively affected by these disasters. Some initiatives that you can run to help affected people include:
- Offering free tire replacement services to people who have had their tires slashed in acts of vandalism
- Offering minor repairs to small car parts that might have been damaged as a result of flooding
- Fitting customers with winter tires for free (minus the cost of the tire) when temperatures drop and roads get icy.
Again, you can quite easily get press coverage for acts like this. Here is an example of an auto-repair shop in Cincinnati Ohio that managed to get press coverage by offering a small number of tire replacements to victims of tire slashings.
Although the current perception of the auto-repair industry by the public is poor, auto-repair professionals actually have the expertise and facilities to help their local community in unique ways.
Running schemes that allow mechanics to use their skills for the good of their local community, and presenting this in a way that gets local press attention and your public talking can expose you to, and help you win the trust of, potential customers.
Furthermore, given the poor reputation that a lot of the automotive-repair industry has, anything that you do to put your business in a good light should give you even more of a competitive advantage over other local repair-shops in your area.