We've been creating better solutions for mechanical workshops for over 21 years and we've picked up a thing or two over that time.

And while it may be a bit cliche: "When your business does well, our business does well", it's still a fact, so we've put together a range of plain-english workshop specific business and marketing tips.

We're not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs, you might well be on top of your business, but have a read through, there might be a little nugget or two that gets you thinking.



Keeping up appearances

Logo tips:

If you want feedback on your existing logo, try to get opinions that are a step or two removed from your immediate friends and family. These guy's tend to want to be supportive and may be less critical than you actually need.

Keep to 2 or 3 main colours. A logo (and the corresponding branding) will have more impact if it has a strong colour association.

Don't try to encompass 'everything'. The logo is just the iconic reference that people associate with your business. The more you try and 'say' in a logo, the less effective it's likely to be. ...BUT it's ok to make it personal. Having said all of that, sometimes a caricature can work really well, particularly if the business is named after a personal such as "Kenny's Auto Services".

If you're looking to get a new logo or update an existing one, firstly create a brief (list) of what you are after, what you want to acheive, and find examples that resonate. This will speed up the design process, reduce frustration, and designers will love you for it.

A great logo should catch the attention of a viewer while zipping past. This means it needs to be clean and provide an iconic visual reference to your business.

And once you have the perfect logo you need to make sure it gets displayed consistently and regularly. Your business cards, signage, web page, basically every visual touch-point of your business needs to show the same image with consistent colouring and layout. This will build customer recognition quicker and more effectively.



Subliminal Messages That Speak Louder Than a Set of Open Pipes

The cost and effort you put into getting your message across can easily be tripped up by little things that we don’t often take notice of but can actually have a big effect on how your business is perceived by customers.

Unfortunately there’s no step by step guide or instruction book (who reads those anyway) that lead you through a process. Rather, this is a way of looking at the small things that reflect on your business and making small improvements on a regular basis.

Luckily, the process of improving your subliminal messaging is often cheap, easy and the benefits can be seen quite quickly. Here’s a few examples to get your thought processes started.


  • How does the customer parking area look?
  • Are there weeds growing around the building?
  • Is that ‘project car’ quietly rusting away in the corner cluttering up the site?
  • Do customers have clear instructions on just where to park or visit reception?
  • Do your staff have clean, professional looking uniforms?


  • How do staff who communicate with customers talk?
  • Does it show when they are having a bad day?
  • Do they moderate language to suit the customer type (ie. farmers vs accountants)?
  • Is it always ‘service with a smile’?
  • Do they project a competent, professional expert dedicated to their task?

The above relates to both verbal and written language such as emails.


  • Are your staff happy and engaged?
  • Does your work environment reflect a busy professional and organised workshop?

If your team love what they’re doing, customers will pick up on this and go away feeling good. Exactly the response you want if you’re aiming to turn ‘customers’ into ‘raving fans’.



One of the best ways to get new customers and turn your existing customers into fans, is to simply make it easy to do business with you!

Sounds like a no-brainer when it’s stated so simply, but a large percentage of business owners create artificial hurdles that limit growth potential.

Quite often it’s because business owners or managers are working ‘in’ the business and, as long as enough customers keep showing up at the door, they continue with the day to day without taking the time to review their customer processes and interactions.

There’s no hard or fast rules around achieving ‘easy’ because it will largely depend on how well you are already doing this, consciously or by accident. And sometimes it takes an ‘outside opinion’ to really see the good and not-so-good points.


Take some time out from work and have a good look at your business from a ‘prospective customers’ point of view from start to finish.

This includes working through how customers might find you, how they get in touch, are they well informed, is your website easy to navigate etc. Once they arrive is there a clear process to follow and what issues are they likely to encounter? And when the job is completed is there a follow-up? Would they refer friends or give you a great rating?

The key to making improvements is looking for problems or ‘sticking points’. These are actually opportunities, so the more you can find the better. Usually the fix is obvious but a great option would be engaging your team to help provide solutions. This increases the likelihood they will take ownership and be on-board with any changes.



Giving back to your community can be rewarding in many ways and doesn’t need to be limited to the ‘feel good’ factor.

As an alternative (or in addition) to donating to charities, volunteer or non-profit organisations, you have the very valuable expertise to make a difference to these groups by reducing some of their costs.

Offering to do the vehicle servicing for a local charity at no cost not only provides the 'feel good' factor to you and your team, you may well experience an increase in customers as word of your awesomeness spreads.

People tend to trust those that are associated with charity or volunteer organisations so a referral from these individuals is worth it’s weight in gold. This is one of those true win-win combinations.


Keep it local

Stay connected to your community

Keep it personal

Choose an organisation you feel some connection to.

Bang for buck

Smaller non-profits run on the smell of an oily rag and the goodness of volunteers, your assistance can have a BIG impact.

Take pride

You're using your skills to help others, never under-value that

Front up

Don't wait for an organisation to approach you, go out and find one that meets the above criteria and make the offer.


Silver Linings

Find the silver lining, because sometimes 'stuff' just happens.

How we react to stuff happening can have a big effect on the down-stream outcome. Sometimes bird poop is bird poop but it can also be guano (worth it's 3x it's weight in gold)

Don't get fixated on negative aspects, instead look for ways these can be utilised in some way to improve the business.

A common example is ‘The building lease is not being renewed (or has become too expensive) requiring a change of premises. How can this be turned into a positive that will help grow the business / improve profitability / refresh work environment etc?

Use your print, web or social marketing to announce your move and sell the benefits of the new location: Easier road access, bigger area, closer to the Mall etc.

Talk to the new locals to look at co-operative marketing or deals (see tip 9). Create a clear map to put on your facebook and your business card.

Another example could involve replacing staff. Sometimes a good thing, sometimes not, either way, it’s an opportunity to ‘introduce’ the new team member and sell the positives that they bring to your business.

If they are younger, they bring ‘up to date’ technical expertise. If they are older, they bring ‘30 years hands-on experience’.You get the drift.

In marketing terms (or politics) it’s called spin, but ultimately, and at the risk of sounding new-agey, you get what you focus on, so focus on the good, great or the awesome.


Good Habits

Habits are easier to make than break. So if a customer gets into the habit of coming to you for their automotive issues and they go away happy, chances are they’ll ALWAYS keep coming back to you.

A good target would be to have each customer visit your workshop 2-3 times a year (with good reason). They’ll be a lot closer to becoming a loyal repeat customer going forward.

The important thing is that the reasons for repeat visits have to be positive ones, so use your existing assets to provide ‘customer benefit’ deals or offers (see tip 7).

Here's a few possibilities

Seasonal Deals

Winter is on the way, use your print, online or social media marketing to invite customers for a Free Battery Check. You’re essentially providing a ‘service’ but chances are you’ll also pick up additional battery sales. Same applies for Summer - Air con check.

Pre-purchase Inspections +

Offer pre-purchase inspections. Customers will come to trust you when they’re looking at new vehicle purchases. You’ll also get to see what your customer is about to buy, so if it’s a lemon, make sure they know, otherwise it becomes your problem!

Air Fresheners +

If you’re installing Air Fresheners to your customers vehicles, let them know they can come in after 3 months and pick up a free scented re-fill any time. This creates additional value to your original job AND it gets twice the use out of your Air Freshener.


Sell your

Buying new plant or equipment?

Hopefully you’re seeing new purchases as ‘Investment’ rather than a ‘cost’. It’s an important matter of perception that is likely to affect how much value it adds to your business because the next step is maximising your ROI (return on investment).

By budgeting in a marketing component of your spend (and this could be as little as 5%) you’re giving yourself opportunity to spread the good news and putting your investment to work.

So you’ve laid down some hard cash to improve the versatility of your workshop, now you need to let everyone know about it so it starts improving your business! Here’s a few tips.


Create a value-added special that features your new/improved service and offers a ‘loyalty discount’ or even a free ‘bonus’ as part of a package, with a clear call to action such as: “Half priced brake and alignment check with every service before Dec”. Then use your existing client database to send it as an email, print and distribute flyers by mail, post it on your social media, basically share it with every touch-point an existing client has with your business. You could also print some ‘50% OFF a radiator flush on your next visit’ vouchers and have these at your reception counter to give customers when they pick up their vehicle. In summary, this is essentially about making your workshop work for you. If you’ve invested 18k (plus marketing budget) into new equipment that has a low usage cost, you need to have it cranking!

Potential customers:

The same ideas above apply but you just need to get in front of potential customers. This can be done by creating an adwords campaign that targets both your immediate location (10km radius) and your specific service. Focussing on tighter parameters will be cheaper and far more effective than a generic ‘Mechanic in Sydney’ campaign. A printed flyer version can also be delivered through a Post-box drop in your immediate area.

If it’s not flat out making profit directly, then use the surplus capacity to create customer goodwill. Clients that leave your workshop feeling like they’ve got a great deal on top of awesome service will talk about it. That’s investing in the future.


Aiming for perfect (customers)

Let's face it, not all customers are created equal

Some will haggle for the cheapest option, question everything you’ve done and then drag out payment, while others are an absolute dream to work for. If you want to minimise stress and maximise profit, make sure it’s the dream clients that keep coming back.

If potential customers start looking for discounts, making demands for urgency or generally waving red flags, be prepared to stick to your guns.

Don’t compromise your service, value or reputation just to get a sale. Yes, you already know this but the squeakiest wheels also have an annoying ability to sell their plight.

Identifying the ‘perfect’ customer is usually pretty easy. They trust your opinion, work in with you and appreciate the value of your expertise.

They key is to making sure these guy’s are the ones that keep coming back.This can be done in a number of ways, the first is making it easy for them to do business with you (see tip 3).


Maintaining good communication throughout and even between visits.
Letting them know you actually appreciate their custom.
Giving them good excuses to return regularly (see tip 6).
Making sure they have good access to your branding & details (check out our QR cards).

Looking after key customers doesn’t have to be a chore, it’s simply about adding value to what they get out of choosing your Workshop. A great side benefit is that ‘perfect’ customers often bring in others through word-of-mouth.

Your job satisfaction and your wallet will thank you.


Share clients

Bigger reach, less cost.

Got a friend or associate that run their own business?

It doesn’t even have to be with a complimentary business. There are often opportunities where two non-competing business’s can leverage off their own customer base to create a beneficially mutual relationship that can increase marketing exposure while cutting marketing spend.

Take a look around and firstly, think about what you could offer to other business’s in terms of helping them spread the word or provide opportunities, then work out how a mutual approach would benefit your business.

Feel free to give us a call if you want to run ideas by us or for a shared print and promotional quote.

Here’s a couple of quick examples to get the thought process going:

Is there a local cafe to where you can send your customers on ‘while you wait’ jobs, who would be happy to display your advertising cards?

Does a friend have a windscreen repair business with which you could share space and costs on a combined flyer or other promotional item?

Would the local Vet be keen on advertising space in your reception in exchange for kind?

Is the local Tyre workshop keen on a ‘combo-package’ special?


Join a group

There’s a number of excellent Automotive Supply groups, Co-op’s and franchises available that can offer marketing advantages, group buyer discounts, all-in-one accounting solutions or other shared benefits that can make the running of your business smoother and easier.

Each will have it’s own up-sides, costs and expectations so make sure you have a good look around and talk to the representatives involved to see if they can help your business.

If you’re looking at doing this, or if you already have but want to make sure it’s working for you, have a read through the following and see if the solution fits your situation.

Fit for your business?

  • What is the reason you are in Business?
    • Whoa, we started in the deep end with this one, but it’s easy to get distracted by day to day detail and lose track of what you’re actually trying to achieve, so make sure you’re on the right path first.
  • Where do I need help in my business?
  • What do I have to give up to achieve benefits?
  • What gives me biggest ‘bang for buck’ returns?

It’s ok to be part of more than one association, just make sure you go through these questions for each (and others that you think are important) and then look at them collectively to make sure you’re not doubling up or creating contradictions/conflicts.

As mentioned, it’s usually easier to get distracted by ‘stuff’ than staying on point so make sure you keep revisiting the first bullet point.


Adding value

‘Value added’ can be read as meaning different things, but we’re focusing on the two most relevant to your workshop.

Adding value to the customer.

Isn’t about discounting the price. It’s about providing a better perceived outcome than the price. A Service is a Service. What makes one from a successful workshop different? Sometimes it’s as simple as a useful location, but usually its about all the customer interactions around the service (see tips 2 & 3). If value is added correctly and a customer’s expectations have been exceeded, cost becomes largely irrelevant.


  • Communication is vital. Customers just want to be in-the-know.
  • Convenience is the new loyalty, just make it easy for the customer.
  • Take a minute to thank the customer and compliment them on their vehicle. Zero extra work, happier customer.
  • Customers don’t see the work that’s gone into a service, they only see their car, make sure it looks better than when they dropped it off.

Adding value to your workshop

This one’s about increasing your clients dollar spend without significantly increasing your work load. Think ‘would you like fries with that’? It may be cliched, but it works.

Creating combo’s or adding ‘specials’ that cover similar work processes adds another chargeable job with minimal increase in your cost.

Quick example: Offering 25% off a wheel rotation with every service.

It’s basically ‘up-selling’ but if it’s relevant and genuinely adds value to your customer (as per example: ‘Extends tyre life’) then you’ve both added value to your work and created a happy client!

Up-selling can be difficult, particularly face to face, so let your marketing do it for you. Create a great special, print it, post it, and let your customers up-sell themselves. We even offer it on the websites we create and include a range so customers can choose their own up-sell!


Full Charge Ahead

Non-chargeable hours are a killer to your bottom line.

And there’s so many opportunities for leaks that we won’t be covering them all, but you probably have a fairly good idea anyway. The following are just a couple of the obvious with possible solutions.

Trained Technicians that have to spend time talking to clients (such as explaining work completed or quotes) are often doing so at the expense of chargeable hours. Either train your front office staff to a level that they can clearly and competently communicate the most common aspects of repairs and servicing, or invest in a solution that can cover these off. Some groups or associations (see tip 10) can offer this in various ways / levels.

Make sure your Technicians have a way to easily record their hours against client jobs. As per tip number 3, in addition to making it easy for customers, make it easy for your team to do their job effectively and efficiently.

Use a shared ‘Technician Scoreboard’ that sets weekly expectations and tracks live results. This makes them accountable to each other and reduces your ‘sorting stuff’ workload.Maybe even offer regular rewards or recognition of top performers.

Play the ‘Venga Boys’ in the toilets :)


Making Lemonade

Unhappy customers are sometimes just part of business and in reality we don’t need to be pleasing everyone all the time (see tip 8).

But grumpy customers can actually help your business improve, here’s a couple of ways but just to clarify, we’re not talking about ALL grumpy customers, some people are just born grumpy and some have just had a crappy day, so filter these out and focus on the ones who might have a genuine point (and be sure to put yourself in their shoes).

The turn-arounds

Firstly, be prepared to hear a customer out and not take what they say personally. You need to be open enough to spot the real issue whether it’s stated clearly or hidden in a general rant (read between the lines). If an issue can’t be fixed, be up-front about it. Most reasonable people are tuned to BS but appreciate honesty.

But if it can be fixed with little effort or cost to you, superb! Let the customer know what you’re going to do, include a little spin so they recognise that you’re going above and beyond, and there’s a big chance that customer will turn from a bit of a grumbler into a raving fan. People don’t expect business’s to do more than what they say, but when they do they tend to share it with their friends and family.

Improvement mining

Writing off a complaint is an opportunity missed. If you have a process in place to drill down and find out what the main issue is and then record these for later review, you might find recurring issues. Fixing these issues can be a direct improvement on your business.

Quick example

Your business is actually doing a great job over-all but you still get the odd 3-star rating. Breaking that rating down into specific issues might identify that customers are actually just being put off by the grumpy person on the phone. This is a quick, easy fix that brings that one negative aspect back in line with the rest of your business.


Perception is (nearly) everything

How your business is perceived carries more weight than what you actually offer in terms of skills, expertise and results.

How your business is perceived carries more weight than what you actually offer in terms of skills, expertise and results.

If you can portray your business as a competent, professional Workshop, not only will you succeed in the day to day running of your business, there’s a whole bunch of additional benefits that might not be immediately obvious.

Just as a quick heads up, this tip partly summarises most of the proceeding points, but we’ve pulled out a few direct examples so you can see where we’re going.


If you’re perceived as budget, you’ll attract budget, conversely, a professional looking business that’s seen to add value can profit from a higher charge-out rate putting more $$ in your pocket.


You might not find this one in a Marketing manual, but its super important as it affects both your business and your lifestyle.

  • Take pride in your business and know what you end goal is. This will reflect in a number of ways:
  • Engaged, positive staff who take ownership of their roles.
  • Happy customers that talk about you.
  • Improved bottom line.
  • Builds better business value in the long term.


Just remember sometimes Monday’s are just Mondays’ but if you’re thinking we’re all Hoo-ra without knowing your situation then that’s all good. All we’re saying is take a look at your business with fresh eyes. Is it going where you want to go? Are there issues that can be turned around into positives? Is your business the best it can be?