As an auto detailer you know that leads are undoubtedly the most important part of growing your small business. While a lot of internet marketing gurus will throw out a bunch of different strategies for generating leads, I thought it would be helpful to cover how to practically go about both generating and collecting them in your auto detailing business.
Lead generation is obviously important, but it doesn’t stop there. While advertising is usually the starting point for funneling traffic to a website (lead generation) capturing leads is a different ball game altogether. After all, you need to capture data about your prospects (and customers) to make good business decisions. Some lead generation strategies are more expensive than others, and may produce many leads, but without a system to track what happens to these leads it’s difficult to measure anything.
Are radio ads actually cheaper for generating customers than Facebook ads in your area? At the end of the day, you have to use real customer data to answer these types of questions. After all, detailing (like so many other businesses) depends on repeat customers.
With that said, let’s start with how I would go about collecting leads as a detailer.
3 Methods to Collect Auto Detailing Leads
Generating leads is one thing. Whether you advertise on radio, Facebook and Instagram, or any other channel – you need a way to actually collect a prospect or customer’s information. Keep in mind that contacts must opt-in in order for you to legally use this information to send emails or contact them directly to pitch.
In other words, if a customer gives you their information simply to confirm an appointment, this does not give you permission to send them marketing materials.
Auto detailing is an increasingly data-driven business, and collecting and storing customer data is critically important for your own reference and for marketing purposes (if you have permission). Here are a few practical ways to go about actually collecting this data.
1. Website Forms
If you haven’t already, creating a website complete with forms is honestly one of the most common and effective ways to collect leads. More than just a basic informational website or Facebook page, you need to have easy to fill out website forms your potential customers can use to schedule appointments, inquire about services, download pricing sheets, or even enter payment details if you accept it online.
All of this data you will then have access to –like a brief message inquiring about the cost of your services.
But how do you place forms on your website?
For most people, I would start with a free service like HubSpot that can grow with you. If you have a website built on the Wix platform, or a basic WordPress website, simply adding forms to your website is a very easy way to get started collecting leads. Driving traffic using strategies like running Facebook ads is generally not a bad idea, but at the end of the day the form submission is what actually captures the customer’s contact information for you to use later on in marketing and promoting your services.
If you need a place to view all of your leads (and actually start placing forms on your website), click here to start a free trial of Hubspot. I have used this product for years, and feel it is the most powerful and easiest to use software for collecting leads and even sending emails.
There are many ways to collect data using forms, but I feel Hubspot just makes it easy to organize this data and do awesome things with it.
2. Lead ads on social media
As everyone knows by now Facebook/Instagram is an incredibly powerful marketing channel for your detailing business. If you have a basic Facebook page as a detailer (which most do) you can actually is it to collect leads without driving people to your website.
Creating auto detailing Facebook ads
One relatively recent strategy for collecting leads without a website is by simply running Facebook lead ads. These basically are forms provided by Facebook to collect leads, and can be a great way to attract your first paying customers looking for auto detailing services.
For example, let’s say a potential customer clicks on a Facebook ad in their feed. After clicking, the prospect is then prompted to fill out a form provided by Facebook without even leaving the app.
Once you start receiving form submissions, you can then download a CSV file containing all of the customer information you ask for like “What detailing services do you need?” This is a marketing strategy worth exploring if you do not yet have a website.
There are several tutorials on YouTube for getting started like the one below. You can also read about lead ads from Facebook here.
There are a few other advertising platforms that will collect leads on your behalf like Linkedin Lead Ads, but unless you are a larger detailer with a big budget, these are likely not cost-effective for beginners.
3. The Old-fashioned way: Spreadsheets & pen and paper
I typically talk a lot about online marketing strategies for generating leads, but in auto detailing traditional marketing strategies can still work if executed effectively.
To actually collect these leads and answer questions, you will want to go ahead and have a couple of things:
- A business phone number for fielding calls (with a professional sounding voicemail)
- A way to keep track of customer information given to you over the phone
When a lead calls in, you may want to have a notepad handy (to transfer to a spreadsheet later) just to collect information like the customer’s first and last name, appointment time, and services requested. Of course, having a marketing automation solution is ideal for entering this information as you grow.
6 Ways to Generate Leads in Your Auto Detailing Business
Now that you’ve decided on a collection method, now comes the fun part of any auto detailing business — actually driving traffic to a website page. The first couple of methods I’ll mention fall in the category of traditional marketing.
1. Postcard Mailing Services
Did you know that companies like Vistaprint will allow you to send targeted promotional materials to potential customers, without even having a list?
I’ve been using Vistaprint for years and they make it incredibly simple to create postcards or brochures you may need for marketing purposes. Simply find a graphic designer who can design a catchy looking postcard, upload the file, and within minutes you can have this postcard on its way to potential customers in your area.
2. Leave behind business cards
A business card is also still effective to have on hand as an auto detailer. So many people simply leave business cards on the bulletin board with thousands of other cards, so why not be a little different? Leave a stack of business cards where permitted, and create some glossy before-and-after photos of your work.
Since auto detailing can be crowded in certain regions, think outside of the box. Make your advertising materials eye-catching and different. Standing out especially in when using traditional marketing tactics is essential.
Of course, leaving a business card behind after a customer pays you and you hand them your keys is important too. If you don’t have any, click here to download a free Adobe Photoshop business card template file I created just for auto detailers.
Even if you don’t have Photoshop, you can use a free product like GIMP or Photopea.com to edit and export your finished file to upload to Vistaprint or another similar service.
3. Flyer tear-offs
One of my favorite tactics is the classic flyer tear-off that you can easily create on any type of advertising. If someone is considering getting their car detailed in your area this is an easy method for generating leads at little to no cost.
Simply list your email address and phone number on each tear-off and post them on community bulletin boards and in mailrooms in your area.
Just be sure they whatever you leave behind looks incredibly authentic, but not sloppy. If you’re a detailer you may not want to market yourself as a very large successful shiny company, but communicating trust, being personable, and sharing your experiences as a detailer can be incredibly valuable and gaining the trust of your potential audience.
4. Create a Business Profile on Google My Business
Probably the most effective way to generate leads in your local area is to get found online. The one action step that I can think of is to create a business profile on Google My Business. By doing this, customers will immediately have access to information they need when deciding if they want to contact you for detailing services, including:
- Business hours
- Business address
- Photos and reviews
- Website and phone number
For driving traffic to your website or making the public of where that you exist, I can’t think of one single action that is likely more important than setting up a profile on Google. You can read through the requirements of setting up a Google my business profile by checking out Google.com/business.
5. Attend Automotive Networking Events
One more strategy that may be effective if you specialize in detailing exotic cars and you have the experience, is to establish your personal brand at car clubs and other industry events where car enthusiasts and luxury car owners will be present.
While many car guys prefer to wash their vehicles on their own, you never know when someone may request your services prior to a car show or another industry event. That’s where keeping a stack of business cards on hand and wearing your company-branded shirts comes into play.
6. Google and Bing Ads
Like most other industries, investing in Google and Bing ads to a certain extent is still one of the most effective ways to generate leads. You need to have a website to make this a reality, and experimenting with some paid advertising can be effective as long as you have already mastered lead collection and setting up a landing page.
Now that you have a basic idea as to what it takes to drive traffic and collect information, get started implementing a few of these techniques! Collecting leads as an auto detailer at a basic level doesn’t require anything more than pen and paper to begin building your database of contacts.
All in all, it’s important to continue to find ways to attract the right audience. Auto detailing is a competitive industry, but by having a solid advertising strategy that generate leads and a way to collect and build a database of data you can begin to grow your business.
Hopefully this gives you a basic starting point for generating more leads and more business this year. With generating leads, always be sure you have a method for collecting customer information and linking what source they came from (customer acquisition). This is why many radio ads contain lines like “Enter Promo Code SHINY15 for 15% off”. This is done to track where leads come from by identifying what code was used for each advertising channel (radio, print, etc.).
If you haven’t already, check out my latest webinar Auto Detailing Trends to Watch in 2020 and Beyond for more ideas on growing your business as the industry continues to evolve. Good luck and happy detailing!