Create a winning culture with repair shop contests and raffles that attract new customers and strengthen your social media might.
By Domenic Olmeda
This Marketing Magic series highlights ways to attract business with impactful promotions.
Here’s an adrenaline rush: More than 60 million companies currently showcase their products and services on Facebook. However, if your page hasn’t helped you tap into the site’s colossal user base, chances are your facility is feeling the burn. With 2 billion monthly active participants, the platform provides an incredible opportunity for marketing your brand through giveaways — as long as you know how to utilize them.
They say, “No pain, no gain,” but you seem most in the zone when it comes to shop sales and repairs. So, you’re probably more comfortable beefing up your car count than your social media presence. However, if you treat your page like a hardworking crew member and nurture it, you can grind out high-impact results.
“If you have a proper strategy in place, social media can be equally as powerful” says Roxanne Doche, marketing director at Management Success (a company in Glendale, California, that provides training and consulting for repair shop owners and service advisors). “Consider Yelp!, Facebook and Google Plus as extensions of your team. Assign them a function and monitor their performance.”
Whether you desire increased likes and comments, more people walking through your door — or both — creating fun and interactive content on your Facebook site is a surefire way to pump up your game. Here are three smart giveaways our experts use to capture customer interest and sculpt their brands into lean, mean marketing machines.
Rich’s Auto Body
Rich Costello (flexing above) wants to reach 1,000 Facebook followers, which is no small feat for his Franklin, New York, facility. To get those gains, the owner of Rich’s Auto Body did some heavy lifting and invented a trivia game to generate activity on his page and the shop website it links to.
Know Your Facebook Audience
Timing is vital when publishing Facebook posts. After all, what good are those giveaways if no one is viewing them online? That’s why Rich Costello makes the effort to understand his customers’ browsing habits.
The owner of Rich’s Auto Body in Franklin, New York, goes the extra mile by keeping tabs on when his fans surf social media. “Most of my people are on Facebook between 6:30 and 9 a.m., and then they go again from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. and finally about 6 to 9 p.m. thereafter.”
It’s worth noting Facebook includes a function that displays when your followers are online. However, Costello has devised a method that allows him to hone in on who’s browsing at what moment.
He starts by friending his guests on Facebook. From there, Costello visits Facebook Messenger on his personal and business pages in order to see who’s active (Messenger notifies users when their connections are surfing by placing a green circle next to their name in their friends list). Then, he invites patrons from his personal page to like Rich’s Auto Body. “I wrote their info down and what time I found them on there,” he says. “Then, I’d go check the next day.”
Costello does this for roughly 20 guests at a time and tracks their habits for two to three days before moving on to another group. “Basically, I want to know who my people are, where they’re located and when they’re viewing my content,” he says. By pooling the info together, Costello can pinpoint the ideal times to boost his Facebook posts, promote giveaways and respond to customer inquiries on Facebook Messenger.
Beach Cruiser Bicycle “How Well Do You Know Rich’s Auto Body?” Giveaway
Working with his marketing director Marina Kilpatrick, Costello drafted quizzes about his business, the services it offers and fun facts, such as how many dogs he owns. Kilpatrick posted them daily on the company’s page for followers to solve. “Every one of those questions has an answer somewhere on our Facebook or website,” he says. “So, if you want to win, you need to do your homework.”
Players messaged their responses to Costello and Kilpatrick, and they gave points for the correct ones. After three weeks, Kilpatrick tallied the scores and awarded prizes to those with the highest totals. Most were car-related items, such as safety kits and flashlights, but the first place winner took home a beach cruiser bicycle.
Costello routes potential customers to his giveaways by “boosting” his page’s posts on Facebook. This allows him to broadcast content to users outside of his follower group for a small fee, increasing his chances of marketing to new people. When determining the target demographics for these ads, Costello chose the selected Facebook age range of 18 to 65 and older for men and women and sought to reach individuals up to 45 miles away. Now the page has followers tuning into giveaways beyond New York state.
Including prizes and promotions, the contest cost about $700.
Costello experienced a positive payout — both online and in-house. “[May] is slow for us, [but this time it was] the busiest month I’ve had in two years,” he says. What’s more, Costello notes receiving additional work for his auto glass and towing services after running trivia questions about them. “Even if you didn’t play the game, you’re calling me for a windshield [repair] because you didn’t know we fixed them [before],” he says.
Starting the activity, the Rich’s Auto Body Facebook page had 884 followers and currently boasts 978 at press time. This places Costello closer to that magical 1,000 number.
Adding a human touch to your giveaways, such as Costello’s fun facts, helps you connect with your audience on a deeper level. “When customers like your page, in a way, they’re inviting you into their personal lives,” Thomas says.
Dronet’s Auto Repair
Seasonal dips in sales were problematic for owner Lance Dronet and his shop in New Iberia, Louisiana. “We usually see a drop in work starting in late October,” he says. “And, I didn’t want to [experience] that anymore because it became a cash flow issue.” So, he decided to raffle two tablet computers as prizes on Facebook to generate business at Dronet’s Auto Repair during its slowest months.
iPad Air and Mini First and Second Place Giveaway
Customers who spent at least $200 received an entry with up to three extra ones per additional $100 invoiced. After three weeks, Dronet held a drawing for winners on a Facebook livestream, encouraging entrants to keep up with his shop’s social media page.
Dronet’s marketing plan utilized ads that targeted men and women in the selected Facebook age range of 28 to 65 and older, which translated to a large uptick in activity. “We saw quite a few likes and shares,” he says. “And, on top of that, we had guests coming in with work asking about [the giveaway].”
Dronet estimates spending $700 on the campaign, most of which went toward purchasing the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 2 for the first and second place winners.
Late fall may be Dronet’s slow season, but after running the giveaway, he reported the months of November and December as his busiest in 2016. “Our numbers were 60 to 80 percent up from the previous year’s,” he says.
Dronet acquired $24,000 in revenue from the activity, but the biggest benefit came in the form of a fleet deal. “[The winner’s employer] owns a set of vehicles for security purposes. Now, I maintain them and service 15 to 18 new customers strictly because of him,” Dronet says. “It’s paid off in spades.”
Timing is essential when it comes to marketing giveaways. “If you’re going to run a 30-day campaign, that may be too long for people to pay attention,” Thomas says. “One to two weeks is the ideal timeframe.”
Concours Motors Auto Repair
JR Luna has a long history of supporting his community, but he wants to do more than pledge funds to charitable events. “I noticed [shop owners] were donating cars, and I figured, ‘Man, that makes sense,’” he says. “We can give money, but the thing we do best is work on vehicles.” This inspired the co-owner of Concours Motors Auto Repair in Ventura, California, to start his own giveaway and create a cause his customers could rally behind.
Wheels to Shine Car Giveaway
We called it Wheels to Shine because we wanted someone to shine.
Luna’s sweepstakes prompted the public to choose one person it deemed worthy of receiving a free vehicle. “We called it Wheels to Shine because we wanted someone to shine,” he says. “We were looking for a student who’s taking two buses to school or a single mom who needs a car.” Luna collected nominations on the event’s website for three months and then asked five local leaders to select a winner from more than 100 names [for more tips on getting involved with your community, read 3 Cause Marketing Ideas for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month].
To get the word out about the giveaway, Luna worked closely with Kelley O’Mara, founder and creative director of Mission Created, a digital marketing agency in Oakland, California. Together, the two established a social media campaign to drive traffic to the Wheels to Shine website. From February to April, O’Mara ran four Facebook ads. One targeted the business page’s network of more than 700 users and three focused on those beyond it. The latter reached about 25,500 people in Ventura County, and nearly 500 people clicked through.
“In terms of finding the right audience, the best way is to tap everyone,” O’Mara says. She recommends sharing ads with a wide local audience and running them for at least seven days on a low budget ($5 to $7 daily) to determine their effectiveness. “If they work, keep running them!” she adds.
Luna estimates the giveaway cost around $8,000. He spent $1,500 purchasing a 2000 Volkswagen Golf from a customer and had his techs repair it to a reliable condition. Promoting the event and throwing a party with tacos, drinks and a video crew made up the rest of the expenses.
Luna announced the winner at the Wheels to Shine party and was met with positive feedback as well as a host of new guests to service. “A lot of the nominees weren’t even patrons of ours, and they said, ‘You just got a new customer,’” he reveals. “I received about 15 fresh buyers from the event in the last two weeks.”
Adding a charitable angle to your giveaway increases participation, according to Thomas. “People love to champion the small guy,” he says, “but you have to give them a reason to choose you.”
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