As vehicles continue to age and change, so do people. Staying in touch with trends among younger demographics and learning how it will relate to your business’s advertising is something every successful business is conscious of.
Sara Fraser of Haas Performance Consulting is not only familiar with how to market for independent shops, but how to make that marketing appeal to all age demographics. She shares her insights with NOLN into what shops can do–and avoid–to capture the attention of Generation Z and beyond.
Making Your Virtual Mark
The biggest way to reach young audiences is online, and investing in online advertising is a simple and effective way to make your business seen. The best platforms to focus on are typically Instagram and TikTok, as data has shown that most users on these platforms range from 18 to 34 years old.
An online advertisement will stick with most young people if it seems genuine, and a shop can achieve this by portraying themselves as transparently as possible. Using photos taken of the actual shop and its employees in advertisements as opposed to stock photos is a good way to communicate that sentiment.
“They're really looking for honesty, transparency, upfront information, they want the facts–like they are going to do their research, they're going to read reviews–that kind of stuff,” Fraser says. “So (avoid) anything that's kind of gimmicky, or just not transparent and truthful.”
Indeed, most young people are proficient with the internet and like to do research before paying money for a product or service. A shop that has its information easily accessible is more likely to capture the attention of the young internet researcher–especially in an automotive emergency.
If they must click through several tabs to find basic information, such as the shop’s address or services offered, many will simply go to the next shop on their list rather than scour through the website. One way to counter this happening is to create an FAQ page.
Another key step to focus on is setting up your shop’s Google profile. This is commonly overlooked but can in fact lose the attention of many prospective clients.
A Google profile contains information that will be used to direct related searches toward your business. If a shop hasn’t looked over its Google profile and included what services it provides, it may affect how often it shows up in online search results.
“When this customer is deciding, ‘Okay, I need to take my car for auto repair,’ the first thing that they're doing is probably going into Google Maps, and they're searching ‘auto repair near me,’” Fraser explains. “But what if that person types in ‘oil change near me,’ or ‘brake repair near me?’ If the shop’s Google profile isn't set up to include those other services, they might not show up in those searches.”
And when marketing to the young generation of Internet researchers, having that Google profile set up to include you in as many search results as possible is crucial in gaining their business.
Miles of Road Ahead
A decline in the demand for automotive work doesn’t seem to be likely with the incoming generation.
Though ride-hailing services have become more common, most young people still plan on owning their own vehicle. Having a personal vehicle makes life easier in many ways, but it can also serve as a source of income for many, especially young people trying to get by.
Shops can not only gain clients from understanding how to connect with the younger generation, but also attract people in that demographic that are looking for a career.
As the industry faces a shortage of technicians, it’s important to learn how to market not only your services to potential customers, but your workplace to potential talent. Fraser has assisted many shops with the hiring and interview process and has found the most important thing for those entering the field is having a job that provides security.
“I always ask in an interview ... ‘What are the three most important things for you in your next job?’ And in this age group, it tends to be that safety is always in one of those top three,” Fraser says. “So, they're looking for a safe environment–and that's physically safe, and also mentally safe, they want to know that they're not going to have to deal with harassment and bullying at work.”
This can be achieved by expressing sentiments in job ads about the company culture and showing that your staff are team players that take care of one another and have a good work-life balance.
Hosting outings or lunches with the shop staff is also a great way to build a genuine bond that can appeal to that demographic of young people first entering a field.
With the entirety of Generation Z soon being able to own and drive their own vehicles, it’s certainly not a group of people the auto industry should ignore.
Many strategies for attracting younger demographics, such as increasing your business’s presence in search results, will yield successful results, but being aware of Generation Z’s role as the informed customer and their specific concerns will help attract potential lifelong relationships, if not the beginning of a successful career in the auto industry.