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Show Expertise with Online Repair Videos

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Bob Barks, owner of Complete Auto Body and Repair, wanted to create a personal connection with potential customers—especially ones who’ve never visited either of his two shops in Missouri. His solution? Video.

“Videos make people feel like they are actually at your shop,” Barks says. “And it helps when customers can put a name with a face.” Or a brand, which is why Barks started posting how-to and promotional videos on his shop’s website and on YouTube two years ago. The move was a good one. Barks’ six videos now get 400 views every month, and have helped his shops land new customers.

Barks tracks how his customers hear about his business. He says about 40 customers every month who come in for estimates tell him they chose the shop after watching his videos online.

Of those 40 estimates, Complete Auto Body and Repair typically closes 12 of them. Those repairs, averaging $2,300 each, increase Barks’ monthly revenue by more than $27,000. That’s revenue “we most likely would not get if it were not for our online videos,” Barks says.

Overall, Barks says his videos have increased his repair jobs by 6 percent. His two shops now repair 240 vehicles each month, up from 225. “That little bit of increase has really helped us through slow times,” Barks says.

“Video is all about displaying some personality online. It allows you to create a human connection and tell a story,” says Linda Nawrocki, director of user experience at the online marketing firm Optiem, based in Cleveland. At a recent Sherwin-Williams conference for collision repairers, she discussed creating successful online marketing strategies in the collision repair industry. Video is an excellent strategy to set your shop apart from the competition and a useful tool for converting consumer online searches into sales, she says, and it could make your marketing plans more interesting and effective.

Creating Action

The average Internet user in the United States watches 182 online videos every month, according to Internet video gets your shop noticed—and creates consumer action. Video experts say body shops that have video available online are much more likely to be chosen by consumers.

“Videos create a call to action,” says Eric Siedel, CEO of Oldsmar, Fla.-based Web-Est. Research has shown that shops with video are up to seven times more likely to be contacted by consumers.

Given the success Barks had with online video, his marketing strategy is to spend 50 percent of his $7,000 monthly marketing budget on video. He’s cutting back on print advertising like flyers, handouts, magazine inserts and Yellow Pages ads.
Video is a much better business expenditure, Siedel says, compared to the cost of creating print advertisements or paying for space in the telephone directory.

For years, Ed Alikhani, owner of Euro American Autobody Inc., which has two shops in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, Calif., devoted 85 percent of his marketing budget to phone directory ads—about $700 each month.

Alikhani asks every customer who calls or visits how they heard about the shop. He says the number of people who say they found him in the Yellow Pages decreased by 5 percent two years ago.

He hired an expert to make three videos—30-second clips depicting his facilities, equipment, technicians and repair tactics. Each clip cost fewer than $500. He posted the videos on YouTube and his website around the same time he noticed the drop-off in phone book referrals.
Alikhani estimates that about 5 percent of his current customer base report choosing his shop specifically as a result of watching his videos. That’s contributed to a 3 percent sales increase for his business, he says.

“I won’t pay big bucks for advertising in the Yellow Pages anymore,” Alikhani says, adding that he can advertise online just as effectively, and for less.

Doing It Right

Anyone with a video camera can post videos online, but getting noticed requires a little know-how. “Shops need to ask themselves whether they’re creating something that’s meaningful to their viewers,” says Nawrocki. It’s important to think about the ideas you want to convey—and what your customer wants to know. Here’s how shop operators are using video to market themselves:

• Include customer testimonials. “[People tend] to believe things said by their peers—even when they don’t know the person saying it,” Nawrocki says. She cites research that puts the frequency of belief around 55 percent.

• Show your work. Alikhani’s video clips show before and after images of customer vehicles. “Collision repair is an unknown industry to a lot of people, and it’s interesting for people who don’t know exactly what we do. It’s traumatic when people get into an auto accident, and it’s refreshing for them see what we do to make their car right again.”

• Edit the video professionally. Unedited video could hurt your credibility by making you look unprepared and unprofessional, says Bettina Hein, founder and CEO of Pixability, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company that specializes in creating videos for businesses. Videos need to leave consumers with a good first impression.

• Keep it short. “If you need more than two minutes, think about making a second video,” Hein says.

Market Your Marketing

Posting a video online doesn’t necessarily mean people will see it, Siedel says. “You need to market your videos just like you market anything else.”

• Link to your website. “You’re 53 times more likely to be on the first page of Google search results if you have video on your website,” Hein says. “Websites that have video outrank those that don’t every time.”

• Embed your emails. “Email click-through rates increase by 100 percent if you link video thumbnails in the message,” Hein says. She suggests embedding a video in every email your shop sends out.

• Post to social networking sites and blogs. “Posting videos to social networking sites can create an exponential sphere of influence,” Nawrocki says.

• Focus on search engine optimization for local searches. “Don’t worry about having a large number of national views,” Siedel says. When uploading videos to websites like YouTube, Siedel suggests tagging it with your shop’s zip code, the name of your town and the surrounding area to help attract local viewers.

Creating a Connection

Once customers find you online, your videos create a unique connection that you can’t get with other marketing strategies, Nawrocki says. People are more likely to respond to things they can see and hear, rather than things they read, Siedel explains. Videos let consumers experience who you are—and presumably what your shop is like.

Pete Hughes, owner of South West Rod and Custom in Dallas, says he gets a lot of business from people who have seen his videos.
Hughes, whose restoration business lends itself well to some 600 demo videos that have garnered more than one million views, says he gets 40 phone calls and countless emails every week from people who have seen his videos and want his shop to work on their cars.
Hughes’ videos show what the technicians and painters do, without selling the shop in an obvious way—and he believes that is exactly why his videos have been so effective.

Clearly, restoration work is a different animal than collision repair, but showing the process of transforming a vehicle is fascinating no matter the circumstances.

“The trick is to not let people know that you’re advertising,” Hughes says. If you make videos that use minimal business advertising—but find a way to help people at the same time—“they will come running” to your shop.

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