Catch the Buzz

March 8, 2022

Online or offline, get people to speak well of your shop.

While word-of-mouth has always been considered the best kind of advertising money can't buy, the national obsession with social media has catapulted its power to new potency.

Essentially, most younger customers—and many other customers of all ages—see social media as an endless daily journal.

Most wake-up every day on a fervent mission to plaster nearly everything they see and do across all their favorite social media networks, including their interactions with your business.

Grasping this fundamental change in the way people now live their lives offers your lube business all sorts of new opportunities to ride what has become a word-of-mouth gravy train, via social media—as long as you know what you're doing.

Here are some ace tips for doing just that from two masters of social media word-of-mouth magic. Jeff Butler is a speaker and consultant on marketing and business—especially when it comes to Millennials. Christopher Payne is the marketing and eCommerce manager for Indiana-based Lucas Oil Center.

Realize you’ll often live or die by the reviews posted about your business. Online reviews have grown to be more crucial to a quick lube shop's success since they popped up on the Web about a decade ago. Butler advises they'll only become more important in coming years.

"The mentality of the Millennial is, 'I don't have a lot of time to research any business.' So they spend five minutes checking reviews about your shop on Google and maybe Yelp.  And what they find there determines whether or not they're going to be your customer,” he says.

Consider bringing in a formal review management system. Many quick lube businesses consider these live-or-die reviews so important, they've integrated management of shop reviews into their day-to-day system. Lucas Oil, for example, uses a point-of-sale solution from a vendor, which seamlessly integrates other programs used by the shop, like Carfax. 

In practice, Payne says every service purchase at the Lucas Oil cash register automatically triggers an email to the customer, asking the customer to review Lucas Oil and give the shop a quick one-to-five star rating on CarFax. 

"I'm able to log in and quickly see all the reviews customers have written about us all in one place, as well as the overall star rating on Lucas Oil from all customers who have reviewed us there," Payne says.

Butler agrees that it's a good idea to establish a systematic approach to sending emails and/or phone messages when soliciting reviews from happy customers. He says that online services like enable you to monitor and respond to reviews across hundreds of review sites.

Another service, Nice Job, creates a web site for your quick lube, complete with online reviews management and reviews solicitation built in. Finally, Podium enables you to easily solicit reviews for your quick lube via smartphone text messaging.

Look for opportunities to get double duty from reviews. For shops with truly sterling customer service, getting high star ratings on services like Carfax has a bonus pay-off. The reason is that Carfax publishes a list of top-rated service shops across the country. The catch for programs like this is you have to participate in that specific rating platform.

You need at least a 4.77 out-of-five-star rating to make the top list. And once you become a member of that exclusive club, you also get to post a specially minted Carfax special recognition award on your website and across social media.

Respond to good and bad reviews. Payne says he responds to every review posted about Lucas Oil, no matter the sentiment. Responding to a good review lets a happy customer know you appreciate the kudos and that you believe their opinion is important, he says. And responding to negative reviews, no matter how rare, also lets the disgruntled person know that you're listening and that you want to make things right, he adds.

Be ready to take a spur-of-the-moment endorsement photo. If a younger customer likes your service, suggest that the two of you—both beaming with smiles—take a selfie together to document the moment, says Butler.  This may seem like a strange activity to older folks, but for the social media obsessive, taking such selfies is just another way to get more likes and more attention.

Incentivize workers to promote word-of-mouth.  Lucas Oil awards any worker specifically mentioned by name in a glowing review with at $25 gift card. That mention proves, without a doubt, that the worker went the extra mile for the customer, Payne says. And shelling out $25 in recognition of that service easily pays for itself for all that great word-of-mouth generated.

Nurture your community on social media. When it comes to word-of-mouth, It only makes sense. The more people you have hanging around your social media site, the more they're apt to feel they're part of the crowd, preferred customers, and informed advisors when it comes to your quick lube. That's why Lucas Oil offers a $3 discount to anyone who checks in on their Facebook page, Payne says.

Realize your best social media consultant may be that teenager behind your register. The now old joke is also true: Most older folks turn to their 13-year-old nephew or granddaughter for advice on how to use their smartphone or get on Facebook. The younger crowd are more natural actors on social media.

"There's a very good chance that the young person at your cash register" may be brimming with ideas on  how you can use social media in creative and innovative ways to generate gobs of word-of-mouth advertising online, Butler says.

Be a beacon of goodwill in your community. Payne says Lucas Oil also gets plenty of tongues wagging by sponsoring a number of feel-good events in the neighborhood.

Every year, for example, Lucas Oil holds a fundraiser at its two shops for the local children's hospital. Plus, they also sponsor a fundraiser drive for breast cancer. And they have a children's toy drive during the holidays. 

"All the events get talked-up on the local radio station," Payne says. "You'd be surprised how many people choose your store over a competitor just because they hear you're doing drives like these."

Don’t forget the good, old-fashioned friendliness. For all the gee whiz of social media, sometimes, simply being friendly and charming in the brick-and-mortar world goes a long way.  Lucas Oil's co-owner Bill Floyd, for example, generates scads of word-of-mouth advertising simply by driving his dirt track race car around town. (Floyd  runs his homage-to-speed in six or seven Silver Crown races every year.) 

Everywhere Floyd stops—the bank, the post office, a 7-11—is an opportunity to talk cars, talk racing, and of course, talk Lucas Oil, which is emblazoned on his hotrod with a giant decal on his hotrod.