How an Auto Repair Shop is Winning Female Customers With Social Media

social media case studiesHow does a small auto repair business develop a thriving Facebook page–with over 60 percent female fans?

Owner Jeff Matt started Victory Auto Service and Glass in 1997 with one shop in the suburbs of Minneapolis.

He always made an effort to develop personal relationships with his customers who trusted him with their cars.

The business grew to three locations by 2010, and Matt found it harder to maintain the small-shop feel. “When you have multiple stores and multiple managers, you can’t be everything to everybody,” he said.

Three years ago, he approached Stephanie Gutierrez, a long-time customer, about helping the business get started in social media.

By experimenting with different approaches, they hit upon a winning formula that promotes the personal connections Matt has always valued.

victory auto

Victory Auto and Glass uses Facebook to post photos from their shops.

Since then, Victory has opened two new locations.

Gutierrez spends between three and five hours a week managing their social media. She focuses mostly on Facebook and YouTube, but maintains other platforms as well.

Victory Auto’s social media strategy is to think like a customer, tag photos and promote their community.

Organization: Victory Auto Service & Glass

Social Media Handles & Stats:

Highlights:

  • Opened two new locations since 2010
  • Newest location reports most customers hear about them from word of mouth or “online”
  • Over 60% of fans and people “talking about” Facebook page are female
  • Most popular YouTube video has over 1,300 views

#1: Think Like a Customer

When Gutierrez told her friends she was working for an auto repair shop, they laughed. “I only think about car stuff when I HAVE to,” she said. She compares taking her car in to going to the dentist. “I think I represent the average person that way,” she added.

When she began managing Victory’s Facebook page, she asked, “If I didn’t work here, would I interact with this page?” The answer was no, because she’s not really that into cars.

To change that, she looked for ways to make the page interesting to all car owners. Gutierrez now posts about things all drivers can relate to, such as traffic, commuting, safety and traveling.

state fair post

Victory Auto posts about topics drivers are interested in.

“We started out with more learning articles and links, but found that those were not highly interesting to people,” said Gutierrez. They now post shorter fun tidbits, lots of photos and are very personable and interactive.

short post

Victory Auto likes to post short, interactive, yet informative tidbits.

Victory also thinks like a customer in YouTube videos. They post how-to videos, as well as customer testimonials and shop tours.

For the how-to videos, “We are going for really simple stuff,” said Gutierrez. Her boss laughed when she suggested the topic of their most popular video: how to top off your windshield wiper fluid.

“He said, ‘This is so easy!’” Gutierrez said. She reasoned it was exactly the type of thing people would watch on YouTube so they wouldn’t have to ask someone.

She brainstormed ideas for videos by “being embarrassingly honest about the things I do not know,” she said.


Victory Auto’s most popular video shows how to top off windshield washer fluid.

#2: Be Friendly and Tag Photos

Auto repair is an industry based on trust. Trust is built on knowing the people doing the work.

“People buy from people,” said Matt. “Business is a lot easier when they know the people they are dealing with. The more transparent we can be—and social media gives us that opportunity—can only help build trust.”

Gutierrez often posts photos and fun personal information about the employees to help customers get to know them as people. “We celebrate birthdays, accomplishments and fun goings-on in the shop,” she said.

employee of the month

Victory Auto helps their customers get to know their employees with posts that share personal accomplishments.

post photos and information

Victory Auto routinely posts photos and information about employees.

She also makes an effort to tag photos as much as possible, although it can be complicated to tag a customer. She has to log into the business page as herself, be friends with the person she is tagging and they have to like the page. Gutierrez has over 1,500 Facebook friends, many of whom are customers, which helps.

renee with customer

Victory Auto tags customers and employees who are at the community events they sponsor.

tagging customers

Gutierrez logs into the Victory page as herself to tag customers she's friends with.

She admits that for some businesspeople, this is out of their comfort zone.

“I encourage the managers to become friends with customers not just in person but on Facebook as well,” she said. “Whenever we have those personal connections, we like to take advantage of them.”

The response from tagging customers has been positive, but the exposure “absolutely depends on how many friends that person has,” she said.

Tagging customers can be hit or miss, so Victory tags employees as often as possible. Six or seven of the 30 employees are active on Facebook, which they take advantage of for tagging.

#3: Promote the Community

Being involved with local groups is important to Victory Auto owner Matt. “You should have some roots that grow into the community,” he said.

Victory has long supported MADD, Alexandra House and Toys for Tots. Matt also received a community award, Eleven Who Care, for his support of Free2B.

Among other things, Victory donates space for Free2B volunteers to work in their bays fixing up donated cars or providing free or discounted repairs to needy families.

“Some of those stories we would tell over Facebook,” said Matt. “It is really promoting Free2B, but people come to realize that those things are happening at our shop. Without social media, some of those stories aren’t told.”

victory facebook page

Victory uses its Facebook page to promote activity with local charities.

Victory Auto has also become an AskPatty Certified Female-Friendly shop, and promotes the certification on their website and on the review site, AutoVitals, where they have a five-star review average.

female certification ask patty

Victory Auto uses social media to promote their Female-Friendly certification through AskPatty.

“We had a great reputation with women and wanted to get that out,” Gutierrez said. The shop is ASE certified, which is important to people who know a lot about cars. But for average drivers, “Certified Female-Friendly” is clear and straightforward.

Their focus on promoting their female-friendly business is reaping results online and in person. Over 60% of their Facebook fans are women, and managers report that 50% to 60% of customers are women as well.

facebook stats

Victory Auto consistently reaches a local female audience through Facebook.

What’s the payoff?

Other business owners often ask Matt how he justifies social media expense.

He said he considers social media the same as any other business expense, one that pays off in the long-term. “We have to connect with our customers if we’re going to be a viable long-term business. When we do that successfully, there’s a lot more loyalty that we get back from our customers.”

What do you think? Are you using social media to connect with your customers? Do you have a story you would like to share? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Louise Julig

Louise is Social Media Examiner’s case study writer. A freelance writer and former engineer, she has a passion for telling compelling true stories. Follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseJulig. Other posts by »




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  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    Really like how they choose to follow the DNA of the owner and infuse that into their social strategy. That alignment I think makes a tremendous impact on his customers online as well as offline.

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  • http://www.SelfEmployedKing.com/ Mike Kawula

    Louise and SME this was great. More case studies like this should definitely be done to share the power to local Small Businesses that are unsure of the value Social can bring. Its awesome to see Small businesses like Victory getting it, having fun with it and winning. Great Post!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for the kind comments, Patrick! We believe that a company’s personality, mission and general vibe should remain consistent across all channels. It helps customers feel safe and that they can trust a business when the company they see online or in a print ad is the same company they’ll see when they walk through the doors of the shop. We’re so glad you enjoyed the article :)

  • Stephanie

    Thanks, Mike! We thought it would be fun and inspiring for people to see that even businesses that don’t seem to naturally lend themselves to social media can actually connect in a great way with their customers. A little creativity and getting to know how your customers think and what they like goes a long way in making a personal connection with them not only in person, but also through social media.

  • Betsey

    I appreciate how they were honest about trying something that ultimately did not work in the beginning before they hit their content stride. That’s something about social media for business that keeps me up at night: What if people don’t engage with what I post for the business?

    This case study gave me a big sigh of relief: just keep trying, get into the heads of your customers, and be human!

  • Louise Julig

    I’m glad it was helpful to you, @betseyheidrick:disqus. A lof of social media is trial and error, but it helps to learn from others’ experiences.

  • http://www.SelfEmployedKing.com/ Mike Kawula

    Thanks Stephanie and so right about connecting with customers.

    One of my favorite interviews by Mixergy was with Curry’s Auto Service. Believe he grew his business to $15 Million+ focusing on exactly what you said: “Connecting with Customers”

    Congratulations! Mike

  • Stephanie

    Betsey, thanks for your comments! I’m glad to hear we could encourage you in taking risks with your posts. There are weeks where we feel like we are connecting like rockstars, and then there are other days and weeks where we post things that we’re SURE will be a huge hit that hardly anyone ends up interacting with. Social media is a giant experiment, and the important thing is just keeping track of your results and watching what’s working and what isn’t. Take the risk! You’ll do great :)

  • http://krigek.blogspot.com/ Katherine

    Some great strategies that would work with any business, especially ones that think that no one would be interested in the product they sell. Make it accessible! Make it fun! If you build it (or at least promote it interestingly), they will come.

  • Doug Hay

    Simple but very clever.

  • Stephanie

    You said it perfectly, Katherine. Make it accessible and fun! Yes, small businesses want to make money, but at the heart of great small businesses is the desire to benefit their customers – and customers can tell that! By making the effort to be honest, fun, authentic and helpful, any business can engage their customers in an enjoyable and productive way.

  • Sarah Bauer

    Stephanie, yes! These stories are so inspiring because they challenge the small businesses that brush social media aside with excuses of budget and bland industry to step up and get creative!

    I think the best step Victory could have taken in getting a social media presence up and running was to hire on a loyal customer – an outsider to the company, but an advocate with knowledge of the company’s processes and people. Great first move there!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks so much, Doug! Yep, sometimes simple is best :)

  • Guest

    Great
    Strategy! “Think like a customer” is such powerful advice. Every
    business should put their customer’s concerns first and that’s exactly
    what they did here. A strong and engaged social media community means a
    great business reputation. Awesome case study Louise!

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great Strategy! “Think like a customer” is such powerful advice. Every
    business should put their customer’s concerns first and that’s exactly
    what they did here. A strong and engaged social media community means a
    great business reputation. Awesome case study Louise!

  • Stephanie

    We’re so glad you enjoyed our story! Thank you!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks so much! In business, a little bit of empathy goes a long way. We’re all customers somewhere, so putting on our customer hat helps us see things from a different and fresh perspective.

  • Josiah Lawhorn

    Extremely helpful tips. Simple, practical, and effective strategy. Thanks

  • Stephanie

    So glad you enjoyed it, Josiah! Thanks!

  • Louise Julig

    Thanks as always, @324f10cc277c80bf379c0445ff81eac9:disqus for the kind words

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    Good for them. Love examples of how mainstream businesses are using social media, especially in conjunction with practices that support the local community.

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great article! I like how Victory is an AskPatty Certified Female-Friendly shop. Some women still feel that auto mechanics rip them off. AskPatty can alleviate that perception.

    I’m the Social Media Chair for our local animal shelter, and I started using more hashtags, but not too many. Visitors can easily find a happy ending or happy beginning. I also feature lost pets and it’s amazing how the community comes together on Facebook to share posts and help owners find their pets. There have been many success stories. Social media is a powerful tool!

  • Alyssa

    Hi Stephanie,
    I am 20 years old and interested in becoming a social media manager. I am having a hard time finding information about it and woud love it if you could email me a little bit about what you do and how you got started. Thanks so much! bumpsetspike_11@yahoo.com

  • Marcia Christ

    I love your posts, but the floating media thing on the left is very annoying. Is there away to hide it so I can read your blog better?

  • http://www.myonlinetip.com/ Kate Luella

    Hi Stephanie, I see you answering posts here, so I had a quick question for you. Do you always post etc as your boss, or ever as yourself on behalf of the client (like admin)? (ps. loved the tip – Tag Customers!!) brilliant.

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ KJ Ammerman

    Thank you for doing this post specifically for small businesses. There are so many that don’t have the capability of shipping their product and are truly local. The interaction from the community has obviously been successful. Has the body shop seen a revenue increase since they started the social media campaign?

  • Louise Julig

    Sorry, the “media thing” is a Social Media Examiner format. The only thing I can suggest is to widen your browser window so it doesn’t overlap.

  • Chris Picanzo

    Awesome Post Stephanie, It opened a lot ideas for my very own network of small businesses. I can’t wait to implement tactics like these. Thanks so much and bring in more like it. Showing the value to local business owners is a must!

  • http://oirms.com OIRMS

    Two thumbs way up for this great post Louise, a perfect example of how social media can benefit local/small businessess too! Sometimes I think more local business owners might see some potential in SM but never take action.

  • Carolin Geissler

    I think this is a great example of how something that wouldn’t immediately be considered ‘social media marketing material’ can work out perfectly. It also shows that especially small businesses can make use of social features by just being their personable selves. The advantage of a small business is that you know most of your clients personally, so pulling that over into their social media presences is great.

  • Tricia

    Thank you so much for providing a specific example for other small businesses to model after. So often advice is too general, and small, local businesses in fields that are not terrible exciting need these kinds of ideas! Thanks!

  • Louise Julig

    Thank you! That is why I love doing case studies. People can generalize from a specific example much easier than they can think of specific ideas from a general statement. It’s a well-known principle of writing.

  • http://www.smokymountainmarketing.com/ Tim

    Great article.I see so many small businesses floundering on Social Media simply because they have a hard time thinking like a customer.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for the kind comments, Jeff!

  • Stephanie

    I couldn’t agree more, Amandah. Auto repair shops often have a bad reputation among women for treating them poorly and trying to scam them. Victory had always treated me so wonderfully when I was a customer that I wanted a find a way to show the world that they were different. Becoming Ask Patty Certified Female Friendly not only gave our managers additional training, but it validated us to those in our community as a business that truly cares about ALL of its customers. It’s great hearing how you’ve been able to use social media to reunite pets with their owners!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks so much, Kate! I usually post in the “we” voice and often use the terms “Victory family.” I like the idea of connecting our Facebook community with our family of employees. Occasionally, Jeff and our GM, Jason, interact directly with posts or answer specific customer questions when they post them by posting from their personal accounts. So glad you enjoyed the tag customer tip!

  • Stephanie

    Hi KJ! I’m glad you enjoyed the post :) Yes, we have seen revenue increases and have grown from three to five locations. There are a lot of great things going on in the shops, so it’s difficult to directly attribute it to social media – it’s most likely a combination of social media with our excellent employees and other marketing efforts. But we’ve found that social media is really an essential cog in our marketing wheel. I just had a customer tell me yesterday that she found out about us through Facebook.

    Social media does bring in new customers, as people see their friends interacting with our posts and get curious, but it also furthers cements the relationships we have with current customers by making them feel special, cared for and like they are a part of our “Victory family.”

    Thanks for the comments!

  • Stephanie

    I’m so happy to hear this inspired some fresh ideas of your own, Chris! Small businesses are awesome :)

  • Stephanie

    I agree – most any small business can benefit from engaging their community through social media.

  • Stephanie

    You are exactly right when you say that small businesses have the advantage of knowing so many of their customers personally, Carolin. It’s fun to interact with people you get to serve on a regular basis!

  • Nori Lee

    This article’s great! Thank you!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Ask Patty is genius! My dad worked in the auto industry and taught my sister and me about cars. But when I took my car to an auto mechanic they kind of had an attitude of “what does she know, she’s a woman.” Sigh. I’m glad that Victory is taking the high road.

    I love what I do, and I’m relieved when pet owners are reunited with their pets. They’re family.

  • http://www.SmallBusinessOnlineCoach.com Matthew Hunt

    great case study!

  • Stephanie

    Tricia, it’s true that general ideas can sometimes be difficult to apply to small, local businesses. I was thrilled when Louise chose to profile us because I also enjoy hearing ideas from other small businesses. Thanks!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks, Tim! I agree. Generating empathy and putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is key!

  • Louise Julig

    Thank you for the kind words! I’m glad the article was useful to you.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hi Marcia, that’s the Digg Digg floating share button we have on our site, to make it easier for readers to share articles on their social sites.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Stephanie, I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your comments here! Thank you for doing this. It’s great to learn more about what you do.

  • http://www.prosemedia.com/ Justin Belmont

    This is such a great example of social media at its best. People like small businesses because they feel like they know and trust the owners, and can have a casual conversation while they’re buying their auto parts. Social media means you can feel like you know and trust someone even if you’ve never met them, which means more and more companies like Victory Auto Service and Glass – the small business writ large.

  • venkyiyer58

    Inspiring story, even if the backdrop is what you would consider uninspiring.

  • Richard

    A nice example of building relationships in digital way, but I don’t see how the socia media efforts was connected to females in particular.

  • Stephanie

    You couldn’t have said it better, Justin. We love helping people get to know us not just as their auto repair specialists, but as real people who genuinely care. Thanks!

  • Stephanie

    You couldn’t have said it better, Justin. We love helping people get to know us not just as their auto repair specialists, but as real people who genuinely care. Thanks!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks, Cindy! :)

  • Stephanie

    Thanks, Cindy! :)

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  • Louise Julig

    Well, that’s a situation where the headline is not in the writer’s control. I agree that the story is not specifically about attracting women customers, but in winning trust in a service-based industry using social media. However, Victory does do things specifically to appeal to women customers, and their social media activity grows out of that. It helps that Facebook is about 60% female, and also that Stephanie, who manages their accounts, is exactly the kind of person they are looking to appeal to (and was in fact a customer before she was an employee).

  • Louise Julig

    Well, that’s a situation where the headline is not in the writer’s control. I agree that the story is not specifically about attracting women customers, but in winning trust in a service-based industry using social media. However, Victory does do things specifically to appeal to women customers, and their social media activity grows out of that. It helps that Facebook is about 60% female, and also that Stephanie, who manages their accounts, is exactly the kind of person they are looking to appeal to (and was in fact a customer before she was an employee).

  • http://writtent.com/ Viktoriya Semyrodenko

    Awesome example of how inbound marketing helps create personal relationships with customers, spread the word about your business, and build a reputation as a brand that can be trusted. Also, how easy is it to receive instant feedback from your customers thanks to social media channels? Job well done!

  • http://writtent.com/ Viktoriya Semyrodenko

    Awesome example of how inbound marketing helps create personal relationships with customers, spread the word about your business, and build a reputation as a brand that can be trusted. Also, how easy is it to receive instant feedback from your customers thanks to social media channels? Job well done!

  • Davide Nicolucci

    Great post! Showing how if you really love what you do, you can achieve any objective. Impossible is nothing.

  • Louise Julig

    Love the hat tip to Justine Henin! Thanks for your comments, and glad you liked the story.







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