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There was a time where all a business needed was a phone number. Over time, that led to a website and an email address. Today, as most people are on social media, and often access these platforms on their phones throughout the day, it is now equally important for businesses to have a social media presence. It is also important to develop a relationship with customers via Facebook or other social media platforms. 

While it may seem daunting, the task can be done in little time, yet reap benefits by nurturing customer relationships to bring them into the shop for regular work.

Just as your shop is now likely to have a web page that offers information on your business and services—and might even offer discounts—a social media presence can provide added insight into the shop. Whereas a website now needs less frequent maintenance, a social media presence may require a little more attention throughout the week. 


Platform Approach

When you decide to set up a social media presence for your shop, there are a few steps that can help you find the right voice. Designate a person who will post regularly to the profile, decide on a platform, determine a frequency for posts and consider what types of posts will best promote the business and serve customers.

Facebook and Instagram are the optimal platforms for most shops, says Megan Williams, managing partner and strategist at marketing firm 3P Marketing Solutions. Yet, regardless of the platform, updating regularly is crucial.

"If you do not have someone dedicated to maintaining these channels, it is better not to have a profile than it is to have what we consider a 'dead' profile," Williams says.

A shop that can commit to keeping up a profile can find it beneficial for growing a customer base.

"Social media is a great way to bridge the online and offline worlds," Williams says. "It gives potential customers a chance to see your facility, meet your team, and start building a connection."

While Williams finds it isn't necessary to post daily, Craig Premont, shop manager at Vermont Quick Lube and Car Wash in Barre, Vermont, aims to do just that on Facebook. His posts include shop news, employee spotlights, special deals, movie trivia, inspirational memes and notably seasonal maintenance and safety tips for vehicles as well as family and pets. 

"I really think it's very important to spread positivity," Premont tells NOLN. "I want my customers to know we appreciate their business, and not just their money. I really care about them. If I can put a smile on their face with a quote, that's a win in my book."

After joining Vermont Quick Lube and Car Wash three years ago, Premont took on the responsibility for the social media presence, which had not been consistently maintained. Now, his frequent posts are supplemented by insight from owner John Lyons. 


Finding the Shop's Voice

It's helpful to find the frequency and voice that resonates with customers. Premont has success and good feedback from customers on his daily posts that include shop-related information, yet sometimes stray from the quick lube confines. Shops just building a social media presence may want to keep on message, at least as they develop a voice. That might include starting with a few posts a week to get established.

"Daily is often too much within this industry," Williams says. "I would recommend posting once or twice a week."

Posts might explore your shop to offer customers a window into the daily operations. 

"If you don't know what to post, highlighting your employee's special training, work anniversaries, or birthdays are a good place to start," Williams says. "Consumers want to do business with places that take care of their staff. Then think about all the quick, educational pieces you can discuss." 

Seasonal maintenance and safety reminders should be considered, as well as quick maintenance tips that customers can handle on their own.

"I do safety videos, not just vehicle safety, but pet safety," Premont says. "I make it a big point on the Facebook page to post videos on how to check things on your vehicle, and how to save money and to stay safe on the road." 

Since taking the reins on the Facebook profile for the shop, Premont has developed its voice. 

"I try to get the customers to interact, just to get a conversation going with customers," Premont says. "It's not just about car things. It's not just about regular quick lube. We have fun, enjoy our day and try to get our customers to have the best experience possible." 

Since its launch, the Vermont Quick Lube and Car Wash Facebook profile has grown exponentially with participation from Premont and support from his shop owner and the team. Even better, Premont says the posts help to keep his attitude positive.

While some marketing, such as advertising online or on social media, benefits from an agency, managing a social media page is something that Williams advises to be done in house. 

"For organic social media posting, aka the posts you would be posting on your Facebook or Instagram page, that you manage it in house," she says. "I know a lot of people are surprised to hear that, but no one can represent your service center and staff better than someone who lives and breathes it every day."


Social Media Rewards 

A social media presence can help keep customers engaged and help establish a routine for regular maintenance. 

"What is great about the oil and lube space is that customers need to come back and see you every three or so months, so if you can get them in and provide them with great service, you have likely got a customer for years," says Williams. 

The platform can also be used to attract new customers. 

"A huge asset on Facebook is the ability to receive reviews," Premont says. "A customer that is looking at us can see that we have five stars and positive comments. They can get a sense of who we are before they call or come in."

Reviews might also provide insight into how the shop performs and can improve. 

"Customers can leave us information on how we can improve," Premont says. "We take every review to heart, and if there is a way to make customers happier, we're going to do it."

Shops can use social media to demonstrate how they address positive and negative feedback. Beyond the shop, businesses can show community involvement with posts on Facebook. 

"I make it a point to post things about local events, businesses, fundraisers," Premont says. "We are a small business, and it's important as a community to support each other."

Social media is thus as important as having a phone number, website and email address. 

"Social media is a great way to bridge the online and offline worlds," Williams says. "The other thing that is awesome about social media is that it is free!"

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