Twenty Tips to Help Rank Your PDR Business in Local Search

In the paintless dent repair world there are two kinds of businesses, fully mobile shops who move around from town to town chasing hail storms, and then there are local shops who service a local base of customers. If you are in this second group, this post, the first in a two-part series, is for you.

It seems almost silly these days to explain to business owners why they need a website for their business. We see so many companies who do all their digital marketing through one social media channel such as Facebook or Instagram. We have even seen really big body shops that only have a profile on a social media page but no website of their own.

The problem with a social-only digital marketing strategy is that you are at the mercy of the ever-changing rules and whims of that platform. Take for example Facebook’s big change announced in January of this year. Facebook’s goal is to keep its users on the platform and has to continually strike a balance between what keeps people on the website and what pays Facebook’s bills. Facebook’s big announcement in January is a reaction to people who have long said they felt the site had shifted too far away from friends and family-related content, especially after a rise of outside posts from brands, publishers, and media companies.

“This big wave of public content has really made us reflect: What are we really here to do?” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “If what we’re here to do is help people build relationships, then we need to adjust.”

With even a basic website, you are the captain of the ship, and you are in control. You are not under the control (or at the mercy) of the owners of the social media platform with which you market.

Having briefly demonstrated why you need a website for your business, let’s turn now to the instructive portion of this post: how to dominate local search for your Recon business.

No matter what your business is, if you serve customers within a set territory, you are a local business and your website needs to perform that way. You have probably heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and you have likely been inundated with offshore SEO companies who claim they can get you ranked #1 for just $50 per month.

With local search, most small businesses are only concerned with one thing, and that is getting to the three slots in the so-called “three stack” or “Three Pack” of search engine results.

The good news for local marketers is that Google has gotten really good at managing local search for businesses. Even just a year ago, it may have been difficult to find yourself on the first page of Google for your service. But with the development and enhancements to Google My business and its prominence in the search results, small businesses can rank well without having to spend their way to the top.

 

Main Takeaway

The one thing you must understand is that a Local search result is the result of the following formula:

Prominence + Proximity + Relevance= Search Result.

Prominence– is how well you show up on the internet. This includes things like your website, but it also takes into account backlinks, reviews, mentions on other websites, and directory submissions, (although directory submissions are becoming less of a factor).

Proximity- This is how close you are to the person doing the search and unfortunately is not something you can work on or fix aside from opening up office locations all around town.

Relevance- This is how relevant your service is to what the search has asked for. As an example, you will have a harder time ranking for Auto Body Repair near me, than you would for dent repair near me, even though we both know they could often be one in the same. Your reviews also help with relevance as long as the people leaving reviews are using your keywords in their reviews. We’ll cover that more below in the tips.

You could almost write a short book on how to rank high for local search, or even to place in the local pack, but to keep things manageable in this post, we are going to bullet list some key points.

Key Points

  1. Your rankings are relative to those of your competitors. You might be able to do something in one market and rank number one, that wouldn’t get you anywhere in another market.
  2. The ranking factor of proximity to the searcher has increased to be the number one factor.
  3. If you have a strong website and you’re doing a good job with normal SEO, the odds are higher that you’ll show up in the local pack.
  4. You have to be in the proximity radius to have a chance to rank, but you have to have the other factors (prominence and relevance) to really be able to beat the competition.
  5. You can use AdWords and Local Pack ads to broaden your scope and attract business through local search from other cities.
  6. If you’re a service area business located in a suburb, and you want to get rankings in the big city, you should create a page on your site and optimize it for that particular city.
  7. If you’re on the edge of a city and you get more links within the city that you’re not in, you have a better chance at moving into the local pack in that city.
  8. You probably aren’t going to rank too far outside of your radius if you’re a service area business. This is something that Google needs to change, especially for businesses who travel to their customers.
  9. Stop worrying about proximity. There’s nothing you can do about it unless you want to set up an office on every block.
  10.  A lot of the relevance factor is first determined by what category and sub-category you put yourself in in Google My Business, and what the person searched for.
  11. To boost relevance, take the page you link to on Google My Business and optimize that with keywords, and also related topics.
  12. Reviews are very important to relevance and prominence. If your reviews feature keywords relevant to you and they’re from people within your city, they will help a lot.
  13. Use ‘semantic relevance’ in your pages to increase relevance. This is the practice of including keywords parallel to phrases that are important for you (e.g. ‘Manhattan’ and ‘New York City’).
  14. Links can add a lot of location relevance. By joining the local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, sponsoring local events and local non-profits, and getting mentioned in the local media, you can boost your relevance for that particular location.
  15. Aside from the SEO benefits, local link building can drive a lot of traffic directly to your site.
  16. If you have 1-5 locations, point your GMB listing to your homepage. If you have more than five locations, it’s time to start setting up location pages.
  17. Google wants to show the best businesses rather than just any old businesses, and prominence is one way that they try to measure that.
  18. If your citations are screwed up or you don’t have any, fixing them or adding them can help you be more eligible to rank in the pack.
  19. Pay attention to new, native Google My Business features, like Q&As, Posts, and ‘store-within-a-store’, as these will become more important in rankings over the next few years.
  20. Google is now getting data sources that we can’t really have any influence over, such as table reservations from OpenTable, and customer numbers from credit card companies. You can’t manipulate these things, so you just have to focus on being an awesome business, and making that awesomeness visible to your potential customers.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is; but it is manageable. Having a solid website is the heart of this, but the Google My Business page is equally important. Stay tuned to part two of this post where we walk you through step by step how to claim, manage or modify your Google My Business listing.

 


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Budgeting for a Successful Independent Dealership in 2018

2018 has just begun and the economy looks to be off to a great start. A strong jobs outlook and low unemployment means more people are driving again, and these people are replacing their cars. You may have noticed this for a while now at your dealership.

But even with this increased demand, you still have to compete with the larger dealerships. One way to get ahead is to borrow tips and ideas straight out of their playbook. As a software company who sells to auto dealerships of all sizes, we have unique access to everything from a dealer’s operations to their accounting practices. We get to see behind the scenes of dealerships all over the country, and we know what makes the best dealerships successful.

As an independent dealership, you may not have the staff or even the time to always step back and look at the big picture of your operation, but it is an important exercise nonetheless. As you prepare your goals for 2018, you can’t make smart decisions until you take a long hard look at your company financials, and yes that means setting your budget.

Performing these budgeting tasks does not have to be a chore, in fact we are making it easy for you with this tutorial. Consider this budget to be a guideline, a scorecard or a report card for how you are doing financially as a business every month. It will help you make business decisions such as when to buy more inventory or how much to spend on advertising.

Building out your budget doesn’t have to be hard or even time consuming. Many of you are already using some form of accounting program and we have created an excel spreadsheet that you can use or modify simply by clicking the download here:

Get the Spreadsheet Template

 

Why you need a Budget for 2018:

  1. Determine your milestones so that you recognize when you pass them. You get into a routine. You have your auction days, you are involved in the remarketing needs of your purchases, you manage your sales people, you keep an eye on the finance department. But how do you know when you are ready for a second lot, or a third, if you don’t have a plan with set milestones? A good budget will help you find those milestones.
  2. You will need to borrow money, your bank will want a plan. If you do grow to that second location you may need to increase your floor plan. Your bank is going to want to see the plan, and how you expect to make your payments. A good budget will help you execute your business plan.

Business plans require financial projections, tax schedules, depreciation schedules, staffing plans and so on. All of this will be spread out over multiple pages and you will need to keep going back and forth between pages.  I have found that the best way to start a business plan is to create a single page cheat sheet that has all the numbers in one spot. As you begin to fill in numbers in a business plan, it is helpful to have a single sheet that has all the numbers in one spot.

  1. A budget can help you make hard decisions quicker and easier. Scalable businesses are built on the backs of efficient processes. Time saving tips tricks and yes even software like our very own ReconMonitor will save you money. But how do you know when you can afford to invest in new equipment or software without being able to look at your own numbers? A budget will help with that. Your budget will help you determine whether you can afford every single business expense before making the purchase.

 

How to make a budget for your Independent Auto Dealership

The easiest thing is to create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. You can create your own or you can download our template below. On your spreadsheet include the next twelve months going from left to right in the top columns. Leave room in the first column to list out each expense.

Next, in the first column, start labeling all of your expenses. It helps to have a couple of recent bank statements handy; you will be surprised at how many little expenses that you forget.

 

Start with your ongoing business expenses.

The way I like to do mine is start with the bills that you know that has to be paid each month, stuff like mortgage on your buildings or rent, utilities, etc. Put every business expense you have in there. This will give you a good idea of what you need at a minimum to pay break even. Now add a row for each of those columns to tally up.

Note: We have included a column with industry average percentages pulled from the NAIDA used car industry report.

Next it’s time to start entering the employee expenses.

Begin entering values and lines for all of your employees, salaries and average commissions. Again review those bank statements and try to come up with a number for each type of expense that you have. Add a line to tally up each business expense by month.

Inventory and reconditioning expenses are next.

Like most dealerships, you probably have a good bead on what sells in your market, and what your average reconditioning costs per vehicle are. This data can be pulled whether you do all your remarketing in house or you use outside vendors. If you use outside vendors ask for their help in determining an average per vehicle figure and use that as a multiple for how many vehicles you plan to buy in a given month.

Customers

Here is where the business owner’s crystal ball comes into play.  Obviously, you can’t predict what cars will sell at exact times, but as an existing and successful dealership, you probably have your own data and formulas.

The purpose of this part of exercise is to start determining what revenue is coming in and when. If you offer repairs and service in addition to used cars, you probably have a good idea of what the revenue from the shop is each month as well.

Note: Our spreadsheet gives you the option to use a monthly average/projection, or you can enter specific cars if you want to get really accurate and track your performance.

 

Spreadsheet Formulas.

Next you will need to create a few formulas. First you want to create a line that totals your office overhead along with any salaries.

Subtract this number from the total sales in per month, and you have a fairly accurate idea of what revenue is left for taxes.

Next take this number and apply the following formula: =C54*(1-29%)  In is case C54 is the cell with our remaining net cash after salaries office expenses and inventory expenses.  This formula takes your net cash and subtracts 29%, which is a pretty good approximation for a small business tax burden and includes state taxes. We recommend that you speak with your tax professional to figure out what the percentage it for your specific situation. Whatever tax rate they suggest simply replace the 29 in that formula with the new number.

In the line below this, add the formula =SUM(C54)-(C55). This gives you the monthly tax payment that you will owe (even though you will pay quarterly). In this instance C54 is the net income and C55 is the tax payment.

Keep in mind this spreadsheet is designed to give you a quick and pretty accurate picture of your cash flow month by month, but it does not factor in things such as depreciations, etc.

We hope you found this to be helpful and we look forward to helping you achieve a prosperous 2018.


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Are Certified Pre-owned Sales Worth the Investment for Dealerships?

by Automobile Technologies, Inc.

December 2, 1927 might not jump out to most auto dealership managers as having any significance, but that was the date the first Model A went on sale, replacing a model that had gone virtually unchanged since 1908- the model T. One might argue, then, that December 2, 1927 is also the date that gave people their first reason to trade in their old car 1910 Ford T on a new one  1931 Model A,

and giving birth to a new institution: the used car lot.

In 1927 there was no such thing as a certified pre-owned car. In fact, that concept didn’t arrive until sometime in the 1990’s. During that time, dealerships had the same obstacles to completing a used car deal as the local mom and pop car lot: establishing trust.

Today, the CPO market is a robust component of many dealerships’ used car programs. It adds a layer of credibility to any car deal, one that the local used car lots cannot offer, but this competitive advantage does come at a cost.

 

Higher implied costs before the front line

A factory CPO certification tacks on additional costs to a qualified vehicle raising the vehicle invoice price, and reconditioning costs, all of which can quickly put the squeeze on the final vehicle gross profit.

Used car management must determine in every instance whether the Cost-to-Market and Price-to-Market ratios leave enough room in the final deal for CPO units to achieve their desired profit and ROI objectives.

 

Higher yields at the lot as a whole

Market research firms indicate that CPO sales can drive a 6.1 percent increase in the value of used vehicles retailed by franchised dealers. So simply having CPO cars as part of the mix can help drive sales of non-CPO cars on the same lot.

Manheim Chief economist, Thomas Webb, reports that CPO sales were up 12.3 percent in 2017, and used vehicle profits are on the rise, as well as higher sales per store with stabilizations in used car margins.

 

Improving margins begins at purchase

Dealers must keep a watchful eye on cycle time for every CPO vehicle.  The minute the vehicle is acquired, the clock starts ticking. Every day the vehicle spends in reconditioning cuts into vehicle turn time to sale.

Most dealers set their goal at a 45 day average sales window, but the real shock to some dealers comes when they realize that the 45 days begins at vehicle acquisition. Vehicle inspection, reconditioning, and certification can easily eat up inventory holding time, long before the unit hits the front line, which makes prioritizing these areas even more important.

 

Remove bottlenecks – raise profit

NADA statistics show average vehicle holding cost can be as much as $50/day. Time lost prior to frontline has a huge impact on vehicle gross profit. Dealerships need to look for operational changes to speed up or even automate the remarketing process.

For the savvy dealership looking to shave a few remarketing days off of each vehicle, we offer the following suggestions:

  • Revisit the delivery process from acquisition through frontline. Are there any bottlenecks that can slow the process?
  • Review your paperwork procedure. Eliminate paperwork wherever possible. This will lead to increased efficiencies. A thorough review of your paperwork processing will be time well spent.
  • Modernize your inventory management process. It is surprising in this age of handheld technology, that dealerships still rely on whiteboards and paper documents to keep track of units from auction to front line. Whiteboards take time and resources to maintain. Whiteboards cannot alert you about bottlenecks and missed deadlines unless you are standing right in front of them. Software solutions like ReconMonitor will alert your team, leading to lower reconditioning cycle time and control the end-to-end process.

 

Conclusion

Certified Pre-owned vehicles can offer the used car dealership a boost in sales, a boost in margins, and a boost in used car purchase trust, but the process must be tightly controlled, constantly scrutinized and continually refined.

Auto Remarketers: Stop Building Your Own Software!

by Automobile Technologies, Inc.

Do I buy or build software in-house or use SaaS?

Large remarketing firms, car rental companies, fleets, or auctions, profit and grow with deeply rooted sales and operational efficiencies. Simple right? Sell more, and trim the fat from the operation.

As growth happens and processes get put into place (often on the fly), the processes do not always grow with the organization. Over time, they can even become bottlenecks. This is the point when a lot of companies turn to software to streamline many of these inefficiencies and to trim the fat from the organization.

Software tools such as vehicle trackers, inspection software, and vehicle reconditioning management, are all available in various forms. The question then is which software is the right fit for your needs?

 

Sure you can. But why?

Many organizations find it tempting to turn to their own IT department to investigate the feasibility of just building their own software. The eager to please IT department always responds with a resounding “sure, we can do that”. The question often left unasked is, should you?

 

There are three types of software that remarketers use:

  1. A custom scratch-built application developed by the company’s own IT team.
  2. Software code that is purchased and then modified to suit the company’s needs.
  3. SaaS- cloud-based software that is sold on a subscription basis.

The lure of not having to pay subscription fees can be tempting to companies looking to trim overhead costs, and with code snippets available for purchase by eager IT guys, the investment never pays for itself and here is why.

 

Consider the time spent to define it.

When you buy a SaaS product it is available immediately. The only time spent is the time it takes to implement the software and train your staff. This is time you would have to spend anyway even if you built your own program.

Whiteboard Planning Meeting

Consider how many meetings it will take to lay out the features, the functionality, and the workflow, before you even begin to build the tool. This can take an organization six months or more just to determine what needs to be built and what it should do.

Calendar

Consider the time spent to build it.

Now that you know what your software should do, and even how it should function, you can finally start to build it. But how long will that take? A couple of months perhaps even with a dedicated IT team who is not busy fixing other hardware and software issues within the business already.

 

Consider the time spent to refine and debug it.

Here we are nine months later and you finally have something that resembles a software. The only problem is when you click this button here, it crashes, or when you enter text there, it doesn’t show up on the report. Add a few more months to test and refine the software and you are now twelve months in before you have something functional.

 

Consider the fact that you will need to continually update it.

Let’s fast forward six months to a year and your organization has been utilizing your new software. But accounting has learned that its missing two crucial steps. Your buyer wants to be able to scan VIN’s and pull carfax reports, and marketing wishes that there were fewer steps to upload images to your website.

Also, because your software has been somewhat effective at cleaning up some processes, you were able to drastically streamline how you handle paperwork, but the software wasn’t built to handle the new process.

It’s time for some updates, and this will take some time and more capital investment.

 

Consider the savings you could have realized this whole time.

At eighteen months of development, refinement and field implementation, your software is working, but still needs work, and you will forever be chasing these updates. That is 18 months of organizational spend that you could have eliminated immediately had you simply purchased a subscription-based software.

 

The benefit of SaaS

Let’s look at this same eighteen months through the lens of a SaaS development company. Before even going to market, the needs have been identified, the business case made, the process mapped out, the testing had been done, and the software has begun to get purchased and implemented in early adopting dealerships. Now the feedback loop begins as customers start to identify bugs and new feature requests. The updates are immediately addressed, and the features are built quickly and brought to market to stay competitive.

 

But what about customization?

The last big lure for a dealership to develop their own software is the argument that it is 100% custom built for their organization. And while it is true that a SaaS product has been built for mass consumption and mass appeal, most high-end SaaS companies will offer customization to suit your needs.

You also get customer support and constant updates, refinements and new features at no additional cost.

 

Why reinvent the wheel?

That is an old saying but it holds true nearly every single time. At the end of the day, if you could build your own Quickbooks, why would you?

Companies, learn from those who have tried this before and have come to the same conclusion: Building your own software slows company progress when SaaS alternatives keep you out in front of the competition.

Budgeting for a Successful Mobile Repair Business in 2018

Budgeting is one of those cringe worthy words that we all like to avoid. I think it’s because we associate restrictions with budgeting and who wants restrictions in our lives?

But a budget is without a doubt the most vital tool for small businesses. Consider it a guideline, a scorecard or a report card for how you are doing financially as a business every month. It will help you make business decisions, and can make you a better business owner when you spend time watching the dollars regularly.

Building out your budget doesn’t have to be hard or even time consuming. Many of you are already using some form of accounting program and we have created an excel spreadsheet that you can use or modify simply by clicking HERE.

 

But if you choose to create your own, here is what it should cover:

Why you need a Budget for 2018:

  1. Determine your milestones so that you recognize when you pass them. We know from working with so many mobile repair shops and paintless dent repair companies that very few of you guys have any type of formal plan for your business. While it is certainly possible to just keep showing up every day, do good work and you will see growth, how do you know where you are headed and without knowing the milestones as you pass them?
  2. You will need to borrow money, your bank will want a plan. Unfortunately with growth also comes more pains such as hiring, obtaining a line of credit at the bank, equipment leasing, tax planning and so on. Every aspect of these new processes will require some form of a business plan. Having written a few of these, I can tell you it takes a very long time.

Business plans require financial projections, tax schedules, depreciation schedules, staffing plans and so on. All of this will be spread out over multiple pages and you will need to keep going back and forth between pages.  I have found that the best way to start a business plan is to create a single page cheat sheet that has all the numbers in one spot. As you begin to fill in numbers in a business plan, it is helpful to have a single sheet that has all the numbers in one spot.

  1. A budget can help you make hard decisions quicker and easier. It is logical that purchasing equipment proven to save time will also save you money. But how do you know when you can afford to invest in new equipment or software without being able to look at your own numbers? A budget will help with that.

 

How to Make a Budget for Your Mobile Repair Business

The easiest thing is to create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. You can create your own or you can download our template below. On your spreadsheet, include the next twelve months going from left to right in the top columns. Leave room in the first column to list out each expense.

Next, in the first column start labeling all of your expenses. It helps to have a couple of recent bank statements handy; you will be surprised at how many little expenses that you forget.

 

Start with your own personal expenses.

The way I like to do mine is start with the bills you personally have to pay each month, stuff like mortgage or rent, food, etc. Put every personal and non-business expense you have in there. This will give you a good idea of what you need at a minimum to pay yourself. Now add a row for each of those columns to tally up.

Below that line I like to add a “differential”. This is an extra amount that you would like to pay yourself on any given month and you can play around with this number quickly. For example when the holidays arrive and you might need a little more cash, you can throw some numbers around and see if you break even.

 

Next it’s time to start entering the business expenses.

Begin entering values and lines for all of your office and business expenses such as gas, internet, phone, truck payments if you own vehicles, credit cards used by the business, equipment payments. Again review those bank statements and try to come up with a number for each type of expense that you have. Add a line to tally up each business expense by month.

 

Employees or contractors are next

If you have employees or plan on hiring in the future, create a section for them. Each employee will get his or her own line and what you want to do is put in the monthly gross paycheck amount for each month. If it varies, you can either try to guess based on past years performance, or pick a number that you think best reflects the volume your employee will produce. Again this document will be fluid so you can play with these numbers when you are done. Now add a line that tallies these employee salaries by month.

Next create a line to add up your personal expense total, your office expense total and your employee salary total. This is the amount you have to make before taxes.

 

Customers

Most mobile repair shops have regular customers such as body shops and dealerships. Start with those first and for each month include the revenue you think you will have from each customer. If you have been in business for at least a year, you can start by entering your revenue from last year. If you have individual non-repeat customers, include lines for them as well and if you want you can come up with an average customer value.

 

Formulas

Next you will need to create a few formulas. First you want to create a line that totals your office overhead along with any salaries, including your salary differential.

Subtract this number from the total sales-in per month, and you have a fairly accurate idea of what revenue is left for taxes.

Next take this number and apply the following formula: =B60*(1-29%)  In is case B60 is the cell with your remaining net cash after salaries and office expenses.  This formula takes your net cash and subtracts 29%, which is a pretty good approximation for a small business tax burden and includes state taxes. We recommend that you speak with your tax professional to figure out what the percentage ito use for your specific situation. Whatever tax rate they suggest simply replace the 29 in that formula with the new number.

In the line below this, add the formula =SUM(B60)-(B61). This gives you the monthly tax payment that you will owe (even though you will pay quarterly). In this instance B82 is the net income and B83 is the tax payment.

Keep in mind this spreadsheet is designed to give you a quick and pretty accurate picture of your cash flow month by month but it does not factor in things such as depreciations, etc.

 

We hope you found this to be helpful and we look forward to helping you achieve a prosperous 2018.

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2018: The Year of Growth for You

Happy New Year everybody! We hope you all had a restful time and were able to spend some quality time with loved ones.

Now it’s time to get serious about your business goals for 2018 and time to lay out your plan for getting there. For 2018, we at AMT are proclaiming that 2018 is the year of growth for our customers.

To support this mantra we are going to publish new posts with worksheets, calculators and tools to help you set and hopefully exceed all your revenue and business goals for 2018. These posts and materials will cover all aspects of running and growing a small business from sales, to marketing, getting funding, hiring, leasing, tax prep, you name it. We want to help you grow by helping you quickly handle the time consuming but necessary aspects of growing a business, much like our software helps you manage your customers.

Why listen to us?

Why should you listen to a software company for business building advice? First of all we are a business ourselves and we face the same challenges you face every day running yours. We also work with customers all over the US and we have the unique ability to be able to discuss the business needs and challenges, and hear amazing solutions from our customers. We also work in many varied industries such as dealerships, one-man repair shops and multi location franchises. What works in one industry is often adaptable to another and that is our plan for this year. We want to let you in on the tools and techniques that are working elsewhere in the business but adapt them to your needs.

Will this be difficult or time consuming?

With any business task, it will take some investment of time. But in this case there is a return on that investment in time. The spreadsheets and worksheets will most certainly save you time from having to create them.

These tools are also designed to be easy to use, and each tool will come with an instruction blog post explaining the rationale behind it, tips for completing the task, and considerations if you wish to create your own tools.

Will this cost me anything?

No. These are intentionally designed to be free resources to you. All you will need is to enter an email address to download a specific guide or resource and the access will be within each blog post. We employ a marketing automation system that houses all these materials and an email address is needed to have the worksheet or template sent to you.

Why are we doing this?

As a business we need successful customers in order to continue our own growth. And we realize that success comes from mastering many aspects of business not just the ones that our software tools solve. When you are successful, we are successful. We also realize that we have a much larger team with many years of experience in different areas of the business. We decided that if we could put that knowledge to use helping our customers and prospects grow their business then why not?

Let’s get started!

So stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to our blog using the button below so that you do not miss out on a single AMT growth hacking tool! Also if you have any business growth needs that you would like us to tackle for you here, feel free to email suggestions to us at info@automobiletechnologies.com.


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Five Tips to Keep Your PDR Sales Running Hot When the Weather Gets Cold

Winter Audi Quattro Automotive Pkw Auto Snow AudiWintertime for some businesses can be a slower time, and for some people it might be a welcome break and a time for some much-needed rest. But that doesn’t have to be the case for your PDR business if you don’t want it to.

As we begin to wrap up 2017 and transition into 2018, there is no reason to slow down on the red-hot sales and growth that you have worked so hard for all year. In this post we are going to cover some ways to keep the sales fires burning all the way through the cold months.

 

Tip#1.  Offer a Seasonal Promotion– If you can bear it, a discount on your services that you can promote on your website, on social media, and anywhere else that you promote your services, might be just the thing to keep revenues up when the days are shorter and darker. Even though cars in many parts of the country are covered in road salt and grime, door dings still happen, cars still slip on ice and receive minor damage. A good promotion with a little bit of clever marketing might be just the thing you need to keep it going during the winter. The tip here is to make it short, and tap in to psychology of your consumer. People do not want to miss out on a good deal, and you should leverage that in your messaging.

Tip #2.    Consider a Subscription Plan. Where there was one dent, there will be others. There are a couple of ways to go about this. The first will be to offer this subscription plan  to families with multiple cars (consider them like a mini-fleet). Instead of fixing the one dent on the one car for a smaller price, why not offer to fix all the dents in the family for a larger set price that is a one-time fee and covers the family fleet for a year. It is a bit of a gamble certainly, but the odds are probably in your favor that there are not many other dents to fix in that year span.

The other option would be to offer this subscription plan to a smaller mom and pop dealerships where the volume is a bit lower but you are not getting their work currently. You could come up with a monthly fee for unlimited ding repairs (and set your own limits or parameters as to how much this offer covers). The benefit to the dealership is a predictable flat rate for dent repair without having to worry about estimating the costs at auction time. The benefit to you is steady work from a source you didn’t have before, and a guaranteed amount of revenue each month.

Tip #3 Hold a Seminar.  What if you could teach your customers how to estimate a PDR dent so that they can do the math quickly while evaluating vehicles at auction? This might be a great way to get your foot in the door at a dealership. You could also offer the same seminar to local auto body shops that might need a refresher on what can be fixed with PDR and how it could mean the difference between a repair job and a total in some cases.

If you are looking to grow your business by adding technicians, a seminar is a good way to scout some new talent. Consider holding one at a local tech school as well.

Tip #4 Form Strategic Alliances. When the winter months are slow, this is a great time to get out and network again. In addition to offering to perform PDR for auto body shops, why not discuss a referral program where you can offer your customers discounts at an auto body shop for service needs that you spot in the field. For example if you are fixing a dent on a customers car and you see some paint damage that could be buffed out or fixed easily, why not offer a discount at your “partner” shop.

Auto detailers would be another great source of two-way referrals. Using the same example above you could refer minor paint correction work to your partner detailers and likewise they could refer dent work to you.

How to sweeten the deal? Offer a finder’s fee often referred to as a “bird dog”. A cash incentive helps drum up business without fail.

Tip #5.  Ask for Reviews from Satisfied Customers. It is easy to forget to ask for reviews, but you need them. Any service business needs revues and the more the better especially for your Google marketing strategy.  

If you have happy customers who rave about your service when they drive out of your shop, encourage them to leave positive feedback on Yelp, Angie’s List and other review sites. Go back through your customer database and send out a quick email asking for the review with a link to you Google my business page to make things easier.

Another pro tip is to be sure and thank them on the review for their kind words. Google actually wants to see that you are reacting to your reviews both good and bad.

 

So there you have it. Five quick strategies to fire up some hot sales in the cold months and set yourself up for a very profitable new year!

 

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How to Earn More Money for Your PDR Company in 2018

The year 2017 is nearing the end, and with that comes the end of hail season. Depending on your geographic location and how hearty your hail season was, you may be settling in for a bit of a rest to ride out the remainder of the year.

As you wind down your 2017 season, now is the time to reflect on the past year, your business successes and challenges, and seek ways to perfect your business in the upcoming year.

If you spent this year running yourself ragged between scheduling jobs, lining up new retail customers, invoicing and chasing payments, then you know full well how much that eats into the time available to actually complete the work that is paying the bills.

There is no doubt that anything you can do to rid yourself of time spent handling office duties will increase your revenue now and into the future. It could also help you gain some peace of mind.

You might want to consider stepping up to one of the PDR hail management apps offered on the market, including our very own ReconPro. These mobile device based applications are proven to free up wasted time spent on office tasks, as well as present a more focused and professional image for your business.

If cost has been your biggest holdout, then we have some good news for you. Repair360 from Automobile Technologies is now offered 100% FREE of charge for a single user, and only $19/mo if you have multiple users on your team! Now you can take your back office with you on the job and complete necessary paperwork and documentation right from your smartphone or tablet, iOS or Android.

Still have questions? The following are some of our most frequently asked questions and answers:

 

What is Repair360 and what does it do?

As mentioned before, Repair360 is a mobile app that gathers all of the necessary functions of your auto reconditioning business into one place. With Repair360, you can log in cars as you work on them, take pre-inspection notes and photos, create and email invoices and more, all from your preferred mobile device.

Repair360 is a mobile app that gathers all of the necessary functions of your auto reconditioning business into one place

Features include:

– VIN Scanning and VIN decoding using your device’s camera.

VIN Scanning and VIN decoding using your device's camera

– Prior damage documentation utilizing your device’s camera to document prior damage and keep with the customer record.

– Mobile Printing of invoices, work orders, and more directly from the app.

– Mobile Email documents directly to customers or other technicians from within the app.

– Full Customer Database of your customer records is kept and ready to access.

– Historical Lookup allows you to access complete records for any customer.

– Client Tracking for managing customers and revenue history to keep your business growing.

– Repair360 works with or without the Internet to keep your business rolling and your customers happy.

– Hail Matrix- a PDR industry staple, now you can access the Hail Matrix right from you’re your mobile device to provide guidelines for both proper repair techniques and associated costs. Repair360 offers several industry price matrices right out-of-the-box.

Boost your Image – Get more customers

Word of mouth and repeat business is won based on how professional your company appears and how easy it is to do business with you. As the business owner, it is your job to make that happen. Set yourself apart from the competition by offering the professional and paperless process that you can get with Repair360.

No cost, no tricks and no gimmicks.

AutoMobile Technologies, best known for their ReconPro app, is once again leading the PDR industry by offering its PDR software in a basic version totally free with Repair360. While Repair360 may not have all of the features as our subscription based ReconPro, Repair360 gives you all of the functionality that a one person or small PDR company would need to get to the next level in business. What are you waiting for? Download your copy today from the App Store or Play Store!

 

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Panel beaters

Too Busy to Grow Your PDR Business?

Is your PDR operation too busy to grow?

Many a business owner has fallen into this trap- assuming that a busy business is a growing business. We all know that busy is better than slow when it comes to business, but is your daily grind actually keeping you from growing? If you are saying to yourself that “you are too busy to read this now” then you definitely need to read this. Increased activity does not equal growth, but increased revenue does.

Seek out and destroy the bottlenecks

If you are like most shops, you only get paid for billable hours. Any time spent on anything other than flattening dents is not making you money, unless that activity is somehow sales generating activity. But businesses can’t be run without office time, accounting time and paperwork time, all of which can keep any business owner busy.

Bottlenecks are also hidden sources of wasted time. For example if your PDR tools are unorganized and you constantly walk around looking for a misplaced tool, wasted time starts to pile up fast especially when looked at cumulatively. If it takes you an extra thirty minutes of tool searching per job, it can really add up in a week month or year. Where are the other bottlenecks in your auto reconditioning business?

Here are a few common sources of cumulative wasted time:

  • Travel time
  • Job Assignments (for multiple technicians)
  • Documentation
  • Invoicing
  • Insurance or customer data submissions

Travel time- As a mobile business, travel time is inevitable. Bouncing from dealership to body shop can really eat into productivity hours, and thus hold you back from growth. The key to reducing wasted trips is as simple as a more efficient scheduling system.

Knowing how long each job will likely take will allow you to plot the route for your day more efficiently. Think strategically and set a goal to shave as much travel time as possible each day and the time savings will open up more opportunities for revenue.

Job Assignments- Let’s say you have grown your business to put a few employees out on the street for your business. That’s fantastic, but how are you scheduling who works on what job, and how do you keep tabs on all of the assignments? If “spreadsheet” is your answer, it’s time for you to consider an upgrade, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Documentation- When you arrive at an assignment, what is your intake process? Are you taking digital photos but filling out paper forms which have to get data entered in at the end of the day or week? You have a bottleneck on your hands. But there are digital solutions to help you. We will cover that in a moment as well.

Invoicing– That which does not get billed does not get paid, right? But when you are running dozens of a cars through your business each week, the invoicing (and sometime the tracking down of payments) can quickly spiral out of control. So what do you do? Can you afford to hire a bookkeeper? Or is that just another revenue-grabbing business expense that you can avoid? Don’t worry there are alternatives.

Insurance or customer data submissions- If you are working with multiple body shops who are servicing multiple insurance carriers, each carrier has their own process for submitting the workflow documentation so that the shop can get paid (and thus pay you). And it is only going to get worse as Insurance companies replace field adjusters with their photos process, much like Liberty Mutual is doing now. More photos will be needed, more shops will need you to do it for them, and more of your repair time will be spent helping them pay you.

There is a solution!

If you have read this far, you are probably a bit stressed out realizing where all your profitable time is being spent. The good news is we have a solution for you. A quality PDR management tool can automate most if not all of the time wasters listed above.  

A quality Paintless Dent Repair management tool like the one we offer here at AutoMobile Technologies (ReconPro), will allow you to organize your customers, make and manage technician assignments, document the before, during and after repair, generate and deliver an invoice while syncing with your accounting software, and transmit all this documentation with electronic signatures all right from any mobile device.

A quality PDR tool will pay for itself the very same day you begin to use it, and can help usher your business into the next phase of profitability and growth.

Want to give one a test drive? Click the button below to get started.

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AutoMobile Technologies Changes the Game with the Launch of Repair360

October 17, 2017 – Automobile Technologies (AMT) has officially launched Repair360™, a free mobile invoice app designed to help solo and smaller auto repair and reconditioning businesses manage customers and workflows digitally. Built on the same robust platform as their flagship ReconPro™ software, Repair360 mobile app includes essential tools for managing customer and vehicle records, performing inspections with photo and video integration, creating work orders, obtaining approvals, generating invoices and recording payments on any supported mobile device.  The app is completely free for a single user, with a modest monthly fee for an expanded version including team management and accounting integration. 

Repair360 Inspection ScreenEvery automotive repair and reconditioning business should be able to digitally manage customers, estimates, work orders, invoicing and payments” says Paul Maximov, Founder and President of AMT, “This eliminates paper, reduces errors, and allows them more freedom to focus on the customers and the work that generates revenue for the business. While other companies may charge for similar software, we believe these are essential tools that should be available to all for free, forever, in the interest of improved business operations, customer experience, and to generally raise the bar for the Automotive Industry.

The Repair360 app is available for free download for IOS devices via the App Store, and for Android devices via Google Play Store. Users who set up Repair360 Free have the option to upgrade to the paid version as needed.

About AutoMobile Technologies:
AMT offers a modular cloud platform with mobile apps for estimating, invoicing, vendor monitoring and repair tracking.  AMT’s premium software editions, InspectionNotes, ReconMonitor, and ReconPRO were developed to monitor cycle time and manage any inspection, reconditioning or repair process.  

 

Repair360 Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPadMaAFWZ8

Repair360 Website: https://repair360.com

AutoMobile Technologies Website: https://amt.company

For more information: sales@automobiletechnologies.com  888-600-6898

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