When visiting clients, a conversation that crops up all too often is that when days are often ‘beyond busy’ there’s usually either little or no time to think about marketing and generating new business. Or even if you have the time, you don’t know where to begin when it comes to finding new customers.

And I can empathise as we’ve been in the same situation. But as we all know, new customers are essential – and the lifeblood of our business.

I’m not professing to be an expert by any means. But as I have the privilege of visiting lots of businesses just like yours and have seen what some of you have achieved; and because Russ and I run a business ourselves; I thought you might appreciate some of my ‘words of wisdom’ on the subject!

So here are some easy ways that have been proven to work for many. None of them takes a huge amount of effort to instigate. And they cost very little too!

Referrals

This is one of the easiest ways to generate new business. If you’re already doing a great job and pleasing your customers, why not ask them to refer you to friends and colleagues?

The easiest way is to ask them during a friendly conversation, of course. But if that makes you uncomfortable, you can attach a leaflet to their receipt slip. Most don’t want a reward as; usually, they feel quite pleased that they’ve found a brilliant garage and are happy to share that with others. Sometimes they just need ‘jog’ to do that. But if you want to be generous, you can offer them an incentive to refer a friend.

Leaflet drops

You may think that in our digital age this is a little ‘old school’. But some of the most successful marketing we’ve seen has been through a cost-effective and straightforward leaflet drop. But before you send your leaflet to the printers, think about the golden rules of marketing. Market. Message. Media.

So, as an example, who lives in the area you’re planning to leaflet drop? Who is your MARKET? Is it commuters? Is mostly mums with kids at school?

Do your research then tailor your MESSAGE to speak only to that group of people. Don’t be tempted to try and please everyone. All you achieve is a dilution of your message and an inappropriate offer.

For example, if it’s mostly commuters living in your planned leafleting area then what might appeal to them is the offer of an area set aside in your office where they can work from their laptop with free Wi-Fi and coffee while they wait.

If it’s mums, a more appealing offer might be a guarantee you’ll have their car ready before the afternoon school run with a goody bag of sweets or muffins waiting in them in the car when they pick it up.

Leaflets are your MEDIA in this example, but you can be clever and repeat the message on your leaflet in a digital format. Again, as an example, a favourite of young business professionals is Instagram – so take a pic of your flyer and post it on Insta!

Plan your leaflet drops well

As a general rule, something else we’ve learned is that leaflet drops need to be planned in threes.

This is because the first time it lands on the doormat, it will often get picked up and dumped on the table or even in the bin. But don’t worry, subliminally they will have registered the colours, layout and your logo if nothing else.

The next leaflet should be a couple of weeks, no more than four later. This time when it lands on the doormat, there will be recognition. So, often, the leaflet will find its way to safer ground. The office or the kitchen draw maybe?

The third time the leaflet lands on their doormat is usually the ‘home run’. Without realising it, because they’ve registered it a couple of times before, it’s now familiar to them. It doesn’t really matter what they do with it this time as you’ve achieved the goals of recognition and familiarity.

But if your leaflet is well designed with an offer and a clear call to action then when they do need the services of a garage, yours will be one they remember  – and they’ll be far more likely to dig it out of that kitchen drawer and make the call!

Build relationships

Is your garage close to a business park, enterprise park or similar?

Take some time out and visit them. Talk to the receptionist in those buildings and get to know about what they do there – be interested.

Ask if you can leave some leaflets. You could even give him/her a constant supply of branded sweets for the desk. Then when staff pass through they can help themselves  – slowly they’ll start to recognise and remember your brand and trust it. Btw, bought in bulk branded confectionery and merchandise is relatively inexpensive.

This all boils down to some good old fashioned ‘schmoozing’!

Another idea that works well in these locations is to ask the management team of the building or Business Park if you can offer free safety checks for a day. This would work even better when it coincides with a national day linked to road safety. Supermarket carparks are another great option – especially if you guarantee discounts for their staff in exchange.

Make sure you send your friendliest, most confident mechanics to any of these locations though. They need to be people-focused and represent your business positively – otherwise, you could do more harm than good!

That’s just three ideas that we know would work well for you if executed well. Good luck – and let us know how you get on!