The Independent Body Shop's Guide to Marketing
Extend Your Reach to Business Partners.
When Steve Ward breaks down his marketing approach, his strategy slowly becomes more and more convoluted. But not because he doesn’t have a systemized approach—it’s because he’s in Southern California.
“It’s one of the most competitive markets in the nation,” he says. “We have thousands more shops than most markets. One city bleeds into the next. When you break shops down by zip codes, they overlap. Major cities connected by a single street.”
As the owner of California Marketing Group, Ward and his wife, Debi, have helped dozens of collision repair shops nail down a local marketing approach. But their specialty doesn’t lie in appealing to everyday walk-in customers—they focus on marketing to business partners (insurance companies and fleets) that improve operations and offer new revenue streams.
That’s why Ward is so aware of the zip codes bleeding into one another: When insurance companies or fleets research collision repair shops, they search from region to region for the best partnerships. Just as you would do for any paying customer, you should understand these outlets’ needs and desires—doing so has allowed Ward’s clients to stand apart.
“It sounds like body shop marketing 101 to me. But ... shop owners have no idea that their marketing money should be going towards getting exposure in any area that produces a profit,” Ward says.
This becomes especially important when you consider how attentive MSOs are to insurance carriers’ needs (“For the smaller guy getting into game, this is his biggest challenge,” Ward says). Marketing on a local level, however, can fill that gap. It’s not about being the biggest option available, but presenting yourself as the most enticing option available.