Becoming a Direct Repair Provider (DRP) is great way for auto body shops to grow their business. That’s the advice Michelle Nelson, founder and president of B2B Automotive, shared during her SCRS 2015 Repairer Driven Education seminar at this year’s SEMA Show.
“Auto repair shops can work toward becoming a DRP through marketing their services to automotive insurance providers,” explained Nelson. “This is a key marketing initiative to grow the volume and reputation of your business.”
Nelson said shops interested in becoming DRP certified should follow a step-by-step process:
- Create unique marketing aimed at insurance companies
- Gather applicable information, package the data/photography and submit the DRP application
- Prepare for the coordinator visit
- Deliver the application and discuss the contract
- Review the contract and do the deal.
Building a DRP résumé is a great place to start, she notes. It will help your business stand out from the competition and make your shop an easily accessible, recognizable brand.
When creating an easily read DRP résumé, Nelson notes it’s important to include:
- A cover that uses up-to-date, clear photos that best showcase every part of your shop, from paint booths to waiting room
- Information about who are you and why your business should be on the insurance’s DRP list
- Specific details about what offerings help you stand out from competitors, such as the latest equipment and certifications
- A map to your location(s) or a link to Google Maps if your résumé is electronic to make your shop easy to find
- The best means to contact you or a shop representative, along with a photos of staff that agents will be speaking with to personalize interactions, and links to your website and social media avenues.
- Branding representations such as your shop’s logo in a large, clear format and any taglines used
- You can provide a full-color printed DRP résumé or an electronic PDF version.
Follow up the creation of your DRP résumé by developing a DRP spreadsheet that lists the following:
- Insurance provider
- Contact name
- Phone number
- DRP URLs to website applications on site
“When you do receive that phone call or email from the insurance company, be sure the shop is in its best presentable manner,” she said. “Next, coordinate a visit, where an insurance rep will tour your shop. Lastly, deliver the application and discuss a potential contract.”
Nelson stresses the importance of keeping your bathroom just as cleanly and as the rest of your shop. “Believe it or not, your bathroom has a huge impact on first impressions, not only with your customers but insurance agents too,” she explained.
To get other areas of your shop ready for agents’ visits, review each of the following items and ask yourself the questions that follow:
- Is it comfortable?
- Are their amenities (a variety of magazines, refreshments such as water and coffee, etc.)?
- Do you offer Wi-Fi?
- Is your shop clean and orderly?
- Are your employees prepared to welcome visitors and present a friendly, upbeat and professional atmosphere when someone goes through the shop?
- Are certifications hung where customers and insurance agents can see them clearly? Are they up to date?
- Are you following safety hazard procedures?
If your shop isn’t taking advantage of social media to market your business to insurance agents and customers, it should be. Nelson says it will be time well spent.
Social media allows shop owners to ask people what they think and to reply to their experiences, to tap into consumers’ real needs by reading reviews and ratings, and to drive traffic to your shop. Available social media outlets continue to grow, but don’t let that scare you. Begin with a few of the established sites like Yelp, Facebook and Twitter and grow into others.
Businesses new to the world of social media should begin by establishing an account on Yelp. Insurance companies and the public use the site to see what others have to say about businesses and make purchase decisions based on what they learn. It is important, however, to monitor the site and respond to reviews. Nothing will harm your business quicker than a host of negative reviews, particularly if they go unanswered.
According to Nelson, shops can use Yelp’s tools/enhanced portfolio galleria to drive page clicks and enrich viewer interest. Ultimately, a good Yelp site will generate revenue.
Most people use Facebook to connect with friends and family. For a business, it is an excellent referral source and a good way for customers to contact you. Using Facebook allows shops to build a “like” database; share upcoming events, stories and monthly news. It also allows a business to advertise and build a “like” database.
Business owners can share quick information about important dates & events. They can connect with other industries and build a following by sharing quick business-related tips that aren’t directly connected to a sales pitch. That suggests you as a source expert when the consumer has a need. Join the #Hashtag craze!
This is another important site to track for reviews of a shop’s services. A business owner should claim their business. Authorship keeps your unique and original content valuable and accredited to your business. It influences your search rankings.
- Circles – Add circles with interest in your company or with the same automotive interests
- Reviews – Keep up to date on the good and bad
- Share content or set up Google AdWords
- Encourage coworkers to set up their own Google Plus pages and share content
- Google Search enhancement with SEO
This is the second largest search engine and is linked with Google search results. Be sure to associate your YouTube with your shop name. This site allows you to share videos of your shop, video review and industry videos on your page and throughout social media. Consumers will embed and share videos associated with your domain. An easy way to manage content marketing using this social media channel is to re-purpose content you have already created as you can reach an audience that will love that particular type of content. YouTube also allows you to build an email list with subscriber software.
As the business owner, set up a personal account and add a business page to your account. Through this site, you’ll be able to post job openings at your shop; upload your resume, contact information and certifications; gain referrals, recommendations, and add other people or businesses to your groups; gain visibility with your shop and utilize advertisements; maintain relationships with other vendors, shops, and customers; and stay on top of news and notifications with groups and connections in the industry.
Set up a portfolio of your shop and talk about it. Be creative. Make it personal because this is another way to brand your shop. You can gain thousands of followers in the industry. All you need to do is set up boards with industry tips, shop news, and events to make your business relevant. It allows you to drive traffic to your business by linking back to the source through PINS and that will help when it comes to search engines.
This social media tool allows you to be easily found and see what people are saying about your shop so claim your listing. Stay in tune with reviews and respond to good and bad because customers and potential customers are watching. You can use Foursquare’s advertising solutions and offer specials too. That will help you grab local traffic to your shop, as will using local updates to engage with customers who’ve checked into your business.
Let people know what you provide and use it to show people you’re invested in the local area.
According to Nelson, all social media should be linking back to your website, the most important aspect of your online presence. Insurance companies, customers and fellow industry members will be viewing your website on a regular basis.
What makes a good website?
- Use of a prominent header with your shop’s phone number, logo and icons of your top 3 social media links
- A consistent design throughout the site
- Minimal copy with a good balance of imagery
- Bullets and other features such as accordion style options to hide content for pages that are copy heavy
- A balanced footer with social media links, ©copyright info, sitemap and possible RSS feeds from other social media sites.
- FAQs on your page that give the user a quick answer
- Google map and locations page
- A lively blog.
According to a HubSpot survey, 60 percent of businesses that blog acquire more customers. It creates a two-way conversation and feedback. Blogs are cost-effective marketing investments. Every post you publish is a long-term asset that helps build brand awareness and promotes your expertise, products and services. A blog keeps you focused on your content marketing strategy. You must create a schedule and stick to it to continuously deliver purposeful content. A blog builds confidence, relationships and sales. Customers will look to you as a reliable resource for information on your industry; then come to you as a business consumer. It also enhances your rankings among search engines.
If you have marketing questions and an interest in seeing how B2B Automotive can help get your business into the fast lane, contact Michelle Nelson at 888-222-5128 or 314-920-1147. You can also check out their website at www.btobautomotive.com