Advertising locally through fliers, phone books, and newspapers can work to some extent, but this is the age of the internet. People are more likely to look up services online than they are to use print media to find what they need. That’s part of why it’s so important to have a good website with proper web development and an SEO consultant. Studies show that the average North American customer looks only at the first few items in an internet search. Then they review the company’s website to decide where to go. This can sound like a negative trend if you are not comfortable with websites, but it can be a blessing in disguise if you know how to play the game. You can hire an affordable web development company to make a great looking site that lists your services, prices, hours of operation, certifications, recommendations, testimonials, photos of work (which is especially good if you also do body work), and anything else that customers may want to see. A good website means that you can spend less time answering the same questions over and over again, and still get the important info across to you customers. It also means that you can gain more customers, especially if you hire someone to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for you. SEO consultants can use a combination of techniques to help your website rank in the first few slots in relevant web searches. This means that potential customers are more likely to see you first when they try to find the services you offer. It’s definitely worth the investment.
Those of us who work with our hands tend to like buying tools. However, it’s easy to run out of room and money if you buy everything in sight. Fortunately, there are some new tools out there that are versatile enough to do the job of a dozen or more devices, with hardly taking up any room at all. My favorite is the oscillating multi tool. These things are great. It’s a single, light power tool that uses detachable blades that you can apply to dozens of different purposes. They have blades that can do precision cuts in sheet metal, plastics, fiberglass, pvc, hoses, and many other materials that are commonly needed in the shop. You can use other blades for scraping old paint, grinding, polishing, sanding, and a bunch of other thankless tasks that come up on a regular basis. You can find multi tool models offered by many different good companies – Bosch, Fein, Rockwell, Dremel, etc., and they all have a good variety of blades. With one tool and just a handful of light Sonicrafter blades you can do a hundred different jobs. Most companies even have cordless models, which really opens up the possibilities and makes you much more mobile. These tools are a great investment because they are durable and they replace a van load of other tools. You can even get off-brand replacement blades to save even more money.
Reward and Referral Programs
Getting new customers is not the end of the challenge. Once you have a customer, the next challenge is to keep that customer for years to come. It may be worth it to develop some kind of incentives. You may want to come up with a program to reward good customers. You might go with four free oil changes a year for people who spend over a certain amount on repairs. You can give discounts, offer a free towing token for emergencies, or whatever makes sense. Probably the two most important tips for this are to standardize and write down your policies (so no one can complain about unequal treatment) and to offer services that are valuable to customers but not too taxing on your time or money. The specifics depend on you, your business, your resources, your customers, you climate, and many other factors. It’s worth putting some thought into it because customers do tend to reward you right back with loyalty. Along the same lines, a referral program may help you to bring in that all-important word-of-mouth customer influx. You might want to offer a free oil change, coolant service, transmission service, or other job to someone who refers a new customer to you for a major repair. Once again, there is no one way to do it. The main thing is to focus on appreciation and networking. You may be amazed at the difference a bit of creativity and generosity can make.
The author is a multi-skilled craftsman who has worked for years helping mechanics, hotrod restorers, contractors, and carpenters to enhance their businesses. He has written several articles about the applications of oscillating blades, dealing with common craftsman’s problems, attracting business with an SEO consultant, and creative business thinking.