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Get Higher-Value Clients Into Your Restoration or Performance Shop

Feature   |   Posted: 03/17/2022
Posted by: Motorhead Digital

6 things you can do right now! From your website to social media - here’s how to get noticed by prospects with money to spend on higher-value work.

By Barry Alt

Over the years we’ve spoken to automotive aftermarket shops in the restoration and performance space and many of them tell us they’d rather have fewer, more focused concurrent ongoing projects in their shops that are more profitable than a larger number of projects that are less profitable.

For example, one restoration and custom car builder told us they had 18 projects in their shop ranging anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000 but would much rather have 8 projects that were valued at $200,000 to $450,000. I’m sure you’re thinking, wouldn’t we all… Be it a 250k restoration project or a 50k high performance engine and transmission upgrade there are many ways you can increase the average value of the work that comes into your shop.

What we’ve found is that although the shops we spoke to were great at what they do they never seemed to find the time or put in the effort to keep their websites and online presence up to date, possibly losing out on getting higher value projects through the door.

In this article, we’re going to go through some key steps that can help get your shop noticed by new prospects that have money to burn and want to spend it with you, in turn leading to fewer ongoing projects that are invoiced out at a higher cost and profitability.

1. Develop a professional-looking easy-to-navigate website

Do you want to be seen as a professional shop or as somebody who just tinkers with cars as a hobby on the weekend?

The majority of people just aren’t going to pay or trust a hobbyist to turn their vehicle into a high-performance badass masterpiece. If your website and online presence are unprofessional, hard to navigate, or just out of date then you’re probably not going to get as many of those high-value clients as you could be getting.

Now you’re thinking, wait a minute! I get clients from word of mouth and referrals all the time! Word of mouth and referrals are great but there’s a ton of money being left on the table because some people are only searching for your products and services online.

To become that go-to shop for high-value projects you need to walk the walk, talk the talk, and have a website that makes you look like the badass shop you are; conveying with it that you can handle those big performance builds or restoration projects.

Here are two ways you can make your website look professional and start attracting more high-value clients to your shop.

website planning

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly or mobile-ready, people will get annoyed and frustrated not being able to click on buttons or navigate to different areas of your site. How many websites have you visited where you’ve had to zoom in on your phone just to read the tiny copy or view an image that won’t enlarge, or clicked on a phone number that does not automatically dial the business?

A website that isn’t built for mobile users won’t do your shop any favors because if a user can’t use your website, they’ll leave and go to your competitors for their next big project or upgrade.

From our research, we found that 40% of auto restoration and performance shop websites aren’t mobile-ready. With 83% of the U.S. population using mobile devices to search for services online you’re going to end up losing a lot of potential customers if your website isn’t mobile-responsive. 

Make sure your website is professional 

Get higher value infographic

If your site is not professional-looking and your visitors can’t navigate your website with ease, then they won’t convert – it’s as simple as that.

They’ll leave your website in search of one that’s professional, up to date, easier and less complicated to use. You could be seriously losing out on some amazing customers and awesome projects just because your website isn’t built with your audience in mind.

Your site visitors will be more likely to work with you if your website has a good user-friendly design and is easy to understand. 94% of a visitor’s first impressions come from your web design after all.

Your prospects and clients want to be able to navigate your website without getting lost looking for the products and services that you offer or how to contact you when they’re ready to get started or learn more. These days so many just want to be able to do this from the convenience of their mobile phone.

Having a user-friendly website means having a website that:

  • Loads fast on all devices
  • Is easy to read and understand
  • Has clear fast loading images
  • Uses simple navigation with a search function that works
  • Has an excellent professional design and color pallet
  • Has all of the necessary information your client is looking for
  • Has easy to access contact details
  • Has testimonials and up to date examples of your work

To many people visiting your site, the quality and usability of your site may also convey the quality of your work. If your site is not professionally designed and laid out properly, prospective customers may think you have the same attitude toward the work you do. It’s the same as if your shop is dirty, unorganized with tools and parts scattered all over the place: customers just won’t hire you.

So, make sure your website looks professional and is easy for visitors to use. This will increase the chances of them converting into high-value clients. There’s a whole lot that goes into building a professional-looking mobile-ready website. From the design to the layout and content development, doing it right is hard and can be very time-consuming so if you need help we might know someone.

Pro Tip: Besides attracting and retaining clients, having a mobile-ready, high-quality, fast-loading, easy-to-navigate website will also get it noticed by Google – which will help it rank higher in search engines.

effective web design

2. Share your high-value projects on social media

showing projects on instagram

Share your high-value projects on social media

Posting and talking about your projects on social media is just as important as posting them to a portfolio or project gallery on your website. By posting and writing about the projects you have in the shop, your clients and prospects alike will become excited about seeing the work you’re doing. Clients will also be eager to see their car being worked on and the reactions other people have to their project.

This is a great way to get more people interested in your work. Displaying your work on high-value projects also shows the quality work you do and in some cases how you do your work, which will ultimately attract more of the same type of work from high-value clients that find you online.

The more people talk about and engage with you on social media, the more you’ll be seen as a reputable and trustworthy shop to work with.

When posting on social media don’t forget to add a video now and then that shows what’s happening in your shop. Videos are highly engaging and get more views and shares than standard posts or photos. On LinkedIn, users are 20 times more likely to share a post with a video.

You should also make sure you’re posting on the right social media platforms and forums. Find out where your prospects and customers spend their time on the internet so you can target them directly with your updates.

From our recent research, 20% of auto shop businesses still don’t have a social media presence. There are 3.6 billion people on social media every day and they spend on average 3 hours a day on various platforms.

Make sure you have your social media up and running so you can show off all the amazing work you’re doing. Remember that there are many more social media channels out there than just Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn is also a social media channel for business people.

You may not be aware of this but you need to know that many C-suite executives spend a considerable amount of time on LinkedIn, sometimes more than Facebook and Instagram and many of them have spare money they can invest in high-value projects – but don’t know where to find you.

If they see you on a social media platform where they spend a good amount of their time they may start checking out your offerings. It’s super easy to repost the same content to your LinkedIn profile or better yet your LinkedIn business page at the same time as you post it to Facebook. Don’t have a LinkedIn profile or business page for your business? Then we need to talk.

Believe it or not, TikTok is also starting to gain traction in our industry but that’s a story for another day.

Pro Tip: Posting regularly on your social media accounts won’t just make your current customers happy, it’ll also help you get noticed and attract more people to your profiles. More followers means more potential customers!

3. Engage with your customers. Know your customer journey from the first contact or interaction to delivery

Engaging with your customers doesn’t happen just over social media. You can also engage with them one-on-one through email, private messages, Zoom, website chat, and of course that thing called a telephone, as well as face-to-face when they visit your shop.

When you’re working on a project, ask for your client’s cell number and email address so you can keep them updated throughout the entire project by sending them text messages and email updates with images, and updates of your progress as well as anything cool you’re doing with their car.

Your customers will love to see things like:

  • Progression pictures of their project
  • New parts being installed and tested
  • Their car on the Dyno and the results
  • Paint tests spray out cards for color matching
  • Each phase of the paint process
  • Engine build and test runs
  • Before and after shots
  • Parts and component fitment tests
  • Parts you’re selecting to use on their car
  • Paint color, fabric, and other styling choices
  • Pretty much everything and anything you can think of to show progress
  • And so much more…

Even if they’re only small things your client will be so happy when you message them with updates. You’d be surprised how much people love to see even the little details that go into their project. Plus it’ll make them feel more involved in the experience and they may also share the progress online tagging your shop in the process! Leaving them in the dark for long periods of time because you don’t want to take the time or you’re too busy is the worst thing you can do.

In the beginning when you first talk to your customer, bring them into your shop and show them around. Let them see the entire shop, spray booth, dyno, engine build area, offices, and other areas of your shop and all the materials and equipment you’ll be using. By giving them an immersive experience, they’ll be able to appreciate your work more and feel more connected to what you’re doing for them and your brand.

Introduce your client to your entire team as well so they can get to know the actual people working on their project. This makes your service more personal, and a personal service increases the likelihood of word-of-mouth referrals (and repeat customers).

Through our discussions with shops, we’ve learned that many shops document everything from start to finish and build a project book that contains everything that went into a project (big or small) as well as before and after photos for their customers. In the case of full-on restorations, some shops also include a thumb drive with thousands of photos documenting every step of the process and project.

They take the time to do this so their customers can have a detailed history of the project and what went into it so they can look it over when their car is finished as well as have a reference if they need to know what parts were used for future work or upgrades. They’ll also have something that they can share with their friends and family and something that will add value for them if and when they go to sell their vehicle..

Pro Tip: When you work on any high-cost restoration or performance upgrade for a client you’re becoming a part of their lives for a short time. Showing that you care by interacting with them and bringing them on the build journey with you will reinforce their faith in your skills and encourage them to recommend you to others…

4. Educate your customers and demonstrate your skills

Educating your customers about the work you’re doing can help you connect with them more easily and help them enjoy their vehicle even more.

Time and time again, people may come into your shop looking to get cool work done on their cars, but they don’t know anything about the process. They don’t know what goes into the vehicle to make it perform better and look cooler. They may know virtually nothing about their vehicle, they just know they want it to look great, sound good and go fast!…

Please head on over to the Motorhead Digital Blog for the rest of this article.

Barry is the founder of Motorhead Digital, providing signature Marketing Maximizer™ programs specifically developed for auto restoration, performance, and restyling shops. These programs are geared towards customer acquisition and conversion to keep those project bookings coming. With over 24+ years of experience in digital marketing and web development, Barry’s goal is to help clients market and grow their shops through strategic marketing practices. You can reach him at (585) 766-9785balt@motorheaddigital.com or online at MotorheadDigital.com

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