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Cover Story: Five Out-of-the-Box Marketing Ideas for Your Shop

Looking for a way to stand out among your competition? These body shops, including one that has a restaurant, have it figured out.

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Michelle Nelson is president and owner of B2B Automotive, a full-service marketing company providing services to collision facilities along with towing companies and auto dealers. She grew up in the auto body repair business, spending time and ultimately working in her great grandfather’s shop in rural Illinois. Over time, Michelle grew her business from a one-shop program to more than 200 shops located around the country. For more information about B2B Automotive, call (415) 787-AUTO.

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You need to do something that no one else does so people remember you and tell others about you. The following shops have applied some out-of-the-box thinking to come up with inventive marketing strategies to boost their business and increase CSI. Perhaps they will inspire you to come up with your own!

Bay Ram Collision Center

Hayward, Calif.

Thanks to signs at the shop counter, customers are letting their social media contacts know they’re at Bay Ram Collision Center. Any customer who checks in receives a gift for doing so. It’s a low-cost way for the repair center to get the company’s name out. Recommendations of friends and acquaintances tend to carry the most weight with potential customers.

Marina Auto Body

Marina del Rey, Inglewood and Huntington Beach, Calif.

Marina Auto Body has gone old school in a time when e-mail and text messages rule. Owners feel strongly about thanking each of their customers. To do so, they pick up a pen, handwrite and sign thank-you notes and send them off to customers. Included in each handwritten note is a $10 Starbucks gift card as additional thanks for their business. Thanks to this initiative, Marina Auto Body has seen a boost in its customer review rate, which averages 80 percent.

Newport Collision Center

Las Vegas

There aren’t many collision centers that feature a restaurant where customers can grab a bite to eat while they wait. But that’s exactly what Newport Collision Center has. While they wait, customers of this Las Vegas collision repair shop can pop into the restaurant for not only a satisfying meal but also free Wi-Fi.

Peninsula Auto Body

South San Francisco, Calif.

Nobody likes to be without a vehicle, and Peninsula Auto Body knows that. To help alleviate this stress for individuals who have been in an accident, Peninsula Auto Body owners are offering five days of free car rental for customers. This applies to those customers who do not have rental coverage on their policies. Not only has this new initiative made a huge difference for customers, but Peninsula has also seen tremendous growth in its business. The company also sends a monthly e-newsletter to insurance agents and customers that features industry news, local events, tips for customers and a favorite recipe. It’s been a popular read for customers and insurance agents and has a 70-percent open rate.

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