In 2017, while serving as the chief marketing officer for Lefler Collision & Glass Repair Centers, I learned of a digital marketing service that would allow us to place electronic fences, or “geofences,” around our competitors. When cell phones, with location services on, crossed into them, they then started to show our ads to those in need of collision repair, in real time.
It didn't take long for this new form of marketing to make an impact with our business.
By 2018, I had cut nearly all of our traditional advertising and marketing such as television ads and radio spots, and heavily reallocated those dollars into geofencing.
Geofencing provided us the ability to track results and conversions, meaning customers that had gone to a competitor’s shop, started seeing our ads online, and then came into one of our locations. It was a complete game-changer for our growth in an area with nearly 50 competitors.
How does geofencing work? Well, imagine an electronic fence placed around your yard for your dog but, instead, around the rooftop of your competitor’s body shop. This technology runs off location services, a very common method of tracking that cellphones use to power your GPS or to help find you the nearest restaurant. When a potential customer has his or her cell phone’s locations services on, which an estimated 90 percent does, it pings the electronic fence that it has crossed and your software starts showing them your shop’s ads on websites they are visiting for the next few days.
The ultimate goal is to get that potential customer that walked into your competitor’s shop to choose you to repair their vehicle.
One way to appeal to those searching for the right shop is to highlight all of your value propositions such as mobile estimate, OEM certifications and advanced safety, and great Carwise reviews. At the end of each month, each shop receives a report through its digital dashboard that has tracked how many times their ads were seen, how many people clicked on them, and how many conversions (people who went from a competitor to their shop), occurred. Last week, a BMW-certified shop said it has seen a huge increase in work after geofencing their local BMW dealerships, which is so exciting!
The collision repair industry is challenging because statistics show that people only get in a wreck every 7-10 years and they rarely know where to take their vehicle. Also, it's impossible to track the return on investment for nearly every other type of marketing, and many of them, such as television and radio, can be very costly.
With geofencing, you are able to target the customers going to your competitors, show them your ads, and see how many then came to your shop, every single month.
In 2018, after speaking at the FenderBender Management Conference and seeing the response and excitement regarding geofencing, our passion for geofencing and the ability to put our ads in front of potential customers, it resonated with me. And that was how we decided to grow. My partners, Jimmy Lefler, the previous CEO of Lefler Collision, and Ed Dietz, the previous COO of Lefler Collision, knew that, following our acquisition, our passion was in geofencing.
As a result, in early 2019, we launched a digital marketing agency called 3P Marketing Solutions. If you have any questions about utilizing geofencing to gain market share, please don’t hesitate to reach out!