How Online Appointment Software Can Streamline Your Auto Repair Business

One of the best businesses to enter into, if you are a certified mechanic and have an entrepreneurial spirit, is an auto repair business. People will always drive cars, and cars will always break down, meaning that you provide a service that people will always need. Especially in these hard economic times, people are far more likely to keep their current cars and trucks in good repair, rather than let them wear down in order to buy replacement vehicles.

However, if you are currently running your own auto repair business, you have already likely discovered the one thing that pretty much overwhelms your entire business – administrative tasks. The fact is that, with any small business, the management of administrative tasks is likely to take up more of your time than actually repairing cars and trucks will. But never fear.

The 21st century has an answer to this problem, and it is surprisingly simple. Online appointment setting and scheduling software is making it easier than ever for businesses like yours to manage their administrative tasks and focus on the actual details of the auto repair business.

Online Software Allows Your Clients To Set Appointments Automatically

This online booking software allows you to let your clients go to a Web site, see the available appointments you have, and then set them. This is a far sight better than the customer bringing in the car and having it sit there for days until you are able to get to it. In that time, you have to store it, secure it and you are responsible for its safety.

Through the online software, your customers will know when you are available to work on their car, and they can bring it in at that time without hassle for efficient repairs.

Automatically Let Customers Know When Repairs Are Completed

Another great feature is that through the use of automatic updates, you will be able to instantly inform your customers that the repairs of their car or truck are entirely complete.

Simply set the status of your online appointment to “complete” and an electronic update will be sent to the customer. In this age of smart phones and instant email, your customer will know right away that the car is done, and to pick it up as soon as possible.

5 Tips To Start Your Auto Repair Business With Little Or No Money

Starting an auto repair shop can be very profitable, but a shiny complete shop full of new equipment can be out of the reach of most auto repair business entrepreneurs. The cost of a business startup can deter many of us from starting a new auto repair shop now.

However success is never easy and the first thing you need is determination! If you push though this financial obstacle then you will reap huge benefits and rewards. If you have the ability to repair vehicles then you are more than half way there. You can start an auto repair business as long as you can do the work yourself and you have the drive to do it. Here are 5 tips to start your auto repair business with little or no money!

1) Legalities. You will need to get an occupational license and open a business bank account. You will need to file a fictitious name request online to open a business bank account. You may also file for an occupational license online as well.

2) Type of business. You will need to adjust your niche. If you cannot afford a shop to bring customers to why not take the shop to the customers. Why not offer a mobile auto repair business until you can get a brick and mortar shop.

3) Business cards. If you can afford to you should go to a professional for your business cards such as Vista print they offer a onetime free offer for full color and quality business cards. Do not forget to utilize the back of your business cards. Do not leave the back of your cards blank. Think of the back of your business cards as a free billboard that you can use to offer discounts or referral fees to consumers who send customers your way.

4) Free ways to market. Marketing is the key to any businesses success or failure. You should utilize every social media site that you can such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. It may seem daunting at first but you can use Ping.fm to update all of your social media sites at once. You will need a website with your local keywords in the Meta tags. You must submit your website to as many search engines as you possibly can. You can start search engine submissions with Addme.com. You will also need a keyword rich blog. You should use the services section of Craigslist to post your auto repair niche classified in for free. Do not post a plain old ad to Craigslist, go to Google and type in free Craigslist template and you will get an eye catching template for free. You should post your classified to as many free classified sites that you are able to. Post a free ad on Manta and post your business information on Google maps and places. This is by no means a complete list but these ideas will get you started on your path to owning a successful auto repair business.

5) Failure is not an option. If you really want a repair shop full of equipment that you own then you will need to make it happen. You will need to save 20% of the profit that you make and save it. If you can you should open an interest bearing account and keep adding 20% of your profits to your savings account and you will be on your way to owning the auto repair shop you have dreamed of.

Whatever you do make it count! Do not take no for an answer! Do not listen to nay Sayers! If everyone in history listened to the masses we would still believe the world was flat. 2012 can be the year you started on your road to success!

Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – Costly Mistakes You Must Avoid

What is your greatest hurdle when starting an auto repair business on a shoe string? Beyond your tools, beyond your space, beyond the constant need to check and double check your books your biggest hurdle will be getting the word out.

How do I know this? Because I work with shops who have been in business for decades and they still have a problem keeping the car count up!

In this day and age word of mouth (WoM) is the most powerful tool you have. However, WoM has changed. We’re now seeing reports from shop owners, in the same place servicing the same customers for over 35 years who are seeing drop offs in their numbers.

Is this how you want to launch your new venture?

Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – #1 Mistake You Must Avoid

Before I give you some information on what you should look into in order to be successful starting an auto repair business on a shoe string, there is one thing you must NOT do.

GET OUT OF THE PHONEBOOK!!!!

The phonebook is the #1 way you will dump scads of cash down the drain and never see any return. Frequently when we interview new clients we ask them what they do to get their names out there. We hear: direct mail, coupons, internet… but very infrequently will anyone mention the phonebook.

So we ask directly. And they say “Yes, of course we’re in the phonebook!”

The phonebook has become something most shop owners ‘just do’. I have to admit, that’s some amazing persuasive force those phonebook folks have on the auto repair industry! But like so many other rituals, it has simply become a costly and completely useless tradition.

You can live without it. Like they say with drugs: Just say no.

Here are some hard, cold facts about phonebook advertising:

#1: Phonebooks provide nothing in the way of relevant information. They are a list. Furthermore, they are a list which makes every company look pretty much the same. The fact is you need to stand out in a crowd if you’re going to have a prayer of surviving in this massively competitive market.

#2: Your customers are not going to find you in the phonebook. Almost every man, woman and child in America is using the internet to find information. Be there. But be there correctly. (More on this later)

#3: Phonebook readership has declined by an insane amount in the past 5 years. Sure they mail one out to every home in the country, but does anyone read it? No. People use phonebooks as kindling or as something to prop up chairs.

Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – Your Biggest Solution

Since you’re starting an auto repair business on a shoe string, you have a massive advantage over your competition. You have not yet fallen prey to the mindless, cookie-cutter advertising traditions your competition has been butchering for decades.

In fact, you may not even need to use traditional advertising to start.

Here’s a question to consider: why does word of mouth work in the first place?

We’ve started asking shop owners that question and what we’ve gotten back is pretty good. Most shop owners give variations of this: “WoM works because we did a good job. People tell their friends when they have car problems and that’s what keeps food on our plates.”

What’s wrong with this statement? Nothing. It’s 100% true. But it’s not the complete picture.

Here’s another question: how can you create WoM before you have any customers to sing your praises?

The answer is tied into the reason WoM works in the first place. WoM works because you have established trust with your customer.

Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – The #1 Golden Rule

People buy more goods and services from those who they know and trust. And the #1 way to build trust is to become an information service provider to those people.

Become that information provider to your local market, and you may never have to spend a dime on conventional advertising.

Starting An Auto Repair Business On A Shoe String – Problems = Potential

Did you know that in most markets auto repair shops are frequented by a massive percentage of women drivers? Did you also know most of these women drivers feel they are being completely taken advantage of? They fear taking the car into the shop.

What if you were to address this concern directly?

What do you think would happen if you were to offer free lessons where people who feel scammed could come to your shop and learn how to avoid the problems in the first place?

Who do you think would enjoy this? Women. Your customers. Everyone.

Spreading the word would cost about as much as a sheet of paper. You would create a press release, send it to the local media and then get the information into the hands of the PTA or some other group.

Offer your information completely free and never, never pitch or sell your services. Have the people who come ask questions, give demonstrations and show examples of what they need to watch out for.

Do this 1x per month and you will find yourself so busy you’ll have to double your staff.

What do you think the result would be for your business if you were to be seen as the #1 facility in your town where people can go and not be taken advantage of?

Total Cost: $0. Total Effectiveness: Infinite

Welcome to starting an auto repair business on a shoe string.