Like most industries, auto repair has its ebbs and flows throughout the year.

We often hear from auto repair shop owners that slow periods are inevitable. There are just certain times of the year — the holidays, back-to-school — when customers put automotive repair on the back burner.

While the slow season can fill any shop owner with a sense of dread, a well-crafted marketing campaign can help you can shorten the duration of these downturns and lessen the impact they have on your business.

Here are some auto repair marketing strategies to consider to not just survive, but thrive during the slow season:

Stay active with your advertising

Too many shop owners slash their marketing budgets when business slows, reasoning that it’s an easy expense to cut when times are tough.

But that approach often doesn’t work. It reduces your exposure to potential customers at a time when you need it most. By taking a break, you’re giving competitors a chance to steal your market share.

Although it’s hard to do, you should actually increase your marketing spending during the slow season. Advertise offers that will not only draw in customers immediately, but also fill the pipeline for the future.

For example, consider a package of oil changes for a discounted price that will give customers an incentive to return.

Car mechanic checking oil stick

Oil change packages are a great way to bring cash into your shop during the slow season. 

Another good option is to offer a “bonus” discount that increases with larger purchases, like $25 off $100 in services or $50 off $250 in services. This approach provides motivation for customers who have been delaying large repairs because of cost concerns to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment.

[Want ideas for auto repair marketing offers? Contact UpSwell for a free consultation.]

Promote your strengths

This is the time of year when it pays to remind customers about what separates you from the competition, so the next time their car breaks down, your shop and services are top of mind.

These are your differentiators — think of what makes your shop special and incorporate these unique attributes into all of your marketing materials.

Maybe you beat competing shops on price. Or maybe convenience is your big selling point — if you offer free customer shuttles or rental cars, those are excellent perks to promote. Warranties, great reviews, and specialized knowledge are also powerful differentiators.

Once you have a list of differentiators you’re proud of, make sure they’re featured prominently on your website and in social media posts. It’s also a good idea to create an email campaign to raise awareness about your differentiators among existing customers.

If you can’t think of any differentiators, now might be the time to consider what you can do to distinguish your business from other shops in your area.

Go old-school with automotive direct mail

You might be hearing a lot about the power of digital marketing, but in some circumstances, an old-fashioned approach can capture more attention.

Direct mail campaigns are back in style again, and for good reason. When your email inbox is jam-packed with sales pitches, getting something delivered in your actual mailbox can feel special. Targeting your campaign toward people who recently moved to your area can be especially effective.

Of course, you’ll still need to distinguish your business from the junk mail most people receive. One good option is to include a gift card that customers can redeem for a certain dollar amount in services. Another great strategy is to package your offers along with maintenance tips or other “news” they can use. That way you can build your reputation as an expert, not just another shop trying to sell them something.


Keeping a consistent number of customers coming through the door is the key to success in any season, and it’s even more important during slow periods.

If you market consistently and strategically, you can build a steady stream of business and reduce the slow season from a major bump in the road to a minor blip.

Since 2008, UpSwell has helped over 5,000 independent-, franchise- and corporate-owned auto shops successfully grow their customer bases.


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