In this case study we are going to look at the challenges facing a very typical local business that gives fantastic service but was struggling to grow.
Harper Motors is a specialist VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda, car servicing business based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. They have been in business for almost 30 years and are extremely good at what they do. Currently the company consists of two full time mechanics, Michael Harper and Chris Brown, both of whom have been servicing cars for many years and extremely dedicated to what they do, plus a part time bookkeeper – and that is it.
There customers come back year after year because they know they will get a personal service from the guys that look after their car – there’s no receptionist between them and the guys who have the answers. It is a formula that works well for their customers, many of whom have been coming back to them for many years.
Harper Motors is located on a small industrial estate in Maidenhead far from the main road, which means there is no natural foot fall – no passing trade at all. If anyone whats to get their car serviced by them they have to know they are there.
To get to Harper Motors you have to pass two other car servicing garages on the same estate, one at the entrance to the estate and one that is attached to the side of Harper Motors. Michael has had a few of his customers book their car in for a service with the garage next door by mistake!
“Finding new customers on an on going basis was a real struggle!” Michael Harper
Being in this location has several advantages for Michael because it is a low cost location and he gets more space for the rental he pays, but finding new customers becomes an issue.
Finding New Customers is an Issue
With no strategy to find new customers, Harper Motors is entirely reliant on referrals and recommendations to build their business, but they do not even have a strategy for doing that, they just rely on it happening automatically. Michael is quiet by nature so openly touting for referrals does not sit well with him.
As with every business, there is a natural turnover of customers over time, customers move, die, or buy new cars that come with a warranty, so there is a natural attrition of old customers. The new customers coming from recommendations do replace the old customers, but it is not enough to allow the business to grow.
They had a website which had been online for over 10 years, but they had never received any new business at all from it in all that time. In effect it was there purely a website for existing customers that had forgotten their phone number!
Despite giving great service at a significantly lower cost than other garages they were just getting by and had failed to really grow since the demise of the Yellow Pages.
Grow or Die, There is no Status Quo
They needed new customers to replace the ones that moved, died or bought cars under warranty or their business would slowly die over the next few years. It also had to be done in such a way that it did not require them going out selling their services on an ongoing basis – that’s not what they do!
But with no natural foot fall (passing trade) and competitors sniping away at their customers, they knew that they had to do something to take the business back to growth. In the past an entry in the Yellow Pages would always bring in new customers, but today that is not the case.
“We knew we had to do something to shift the balance in our favour.”
The solution was based on an integrated strategy that brought together a number of key techniques to create the result.
Chris Ball – I dropped in to collect my car after Michael had serviced it one day and we were talking about his business. He went over the issues and I put together a strategy there and then to switch things around and to drive his business forward.
We put together a strategy that included building a new search engine optimised website which would provide the basis of the marketing strategy. We created a series of videos dedicated to getting his message out there in the world. We then creates a Social Power Network of social media, video hosting, article sites and others to distribute his message across.
We then took all the videos and distributed them in a highly targeted way to ensure that the search engines would see them and promote Harper Motors to the front page of Google.
Within 2 days of competing the distribution of the videos, Harper Motors appeared on the front page of Google for the term ‘VW Maidenhead’ not once but TWICE! and is also there for the terms ‘car servicing Maidenhead’, ‘audi maidenhead’, ‘seat maidenhead’, ‘skoda maidenhead’, ‘tyres maidenhead’, ‘car aircon maidenhead’ and others.
The difference now is that the phone rings every day with people enquiring about our services.
Immediately the phone began to ring on a daily basis with new enquiries and they had new customers booking their cars in in the the very same week that the project went live.
We even have customers saying ‘I’ve seen your video and I want to book my car in’ – they didn’t even ask the price!
Social media and video marketing can make a MASSIVE difference to any business and do it very fast.
Visit Harper Motors now to see for yourself: http://car-servicing-maidenhead.co.uk