When was the last time you performed a SWOT analysis on your shop?
Oh no, you might be saying, she’s speaking in tongues again.
No, no, relax—SWOT is just an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s basically a detailed examination of your business operations (in this case, your diesel repair shop) and how everything’s going. It shows you what you’re doing well, where you can improve, and where you might be bombing.
The Fullbay folks have a pretty decent article about including SWOT in your financial planning. It’s all good stuff to know (and hey, some snazzy writing, too). But here at Dieselmatic, we’re all about the marketing stuff. A full SWOT is a beautiful thing, but for this post, we’re going to zero in on what we do best.
Before we get started, though, we want to point out that some strengths and weaknesses, depending on how you answer them, may shift from one column to another. The right-size marketing budget will obviously be a strength, but one that’s too small or too big will be a weakness.
All right! Let’s dive in.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS?
Strengths is kind of self-explanatory: What is your shop really good at? Look really intently at the work you do—don’t be lulled into the trap of what you think you’re good at. These are things you can prove your shop is good at.
Some questions to consider:
- How strong is your brand recognition? Do people in your area—customers and potential customers—know who you are? This is one of those shifting questions we mentioned above; if, for example, you’re brand new, then you might have zero brand recognition, and you’ll need to work on building that up.
- Do you have a trustworthy amount of Google reviews? If you have more than 20 reviews, that’s pretty good. Less than 20 reviews—well, let’s be blunt, it could be your mother leaving all those positive comments.
- What’s your Google Review rating? Managing Director Nick Adams says if it’s 4.2 or above, that’s a strength; if it’s 4.1 or below, it’s a weakness.
WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
Determining your weaknesses may also require some soul-searching. You don’t need to ask, “What am I bad at?”—you need to take a hard look at what you’re doing and figure out where you can improve. Some of the questions below may end up being strengths for you, depending on what you’re doing; we’re basing these potential weaknesses off what we hear from a lot of repair shops when we initially partner with them.
- What’s your marketing budget? Full disclosure: this isn’t always a weakness. A marketing budget can be a strength if it’s large enough, but a small or non-existent budget could be a weakness if your competitors are investing a lot in this area. If you want your marketing budget to be a strength, figure on investing 5% of your annual gross if you want to grow, and 3% if you want to stay the same size.
- Have you adopted modern marketing tactics? “Are you still advertising in the local newspaper?” Nick asks with a chuckle. “Are you not advertising on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook…?” Hey, we aren’t knocking The Old Ways—some people do still look in the paper, or listen to ads on the radio. But going digital with your ads ensures you’ll reach way, way more people. Newspapers are limiting. The internet is endless.
- How closely are you tracking the results of your digital marketing? Marketing feels like a black box. There are formulas and trends you can try to follow, but it’s not an exact science, and let’s face it—you want a good ROI. But you’ve got to track your marketing if you want to know what’s working and what isn’t.
WHAT ARE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES?
We admit the “opportunity” segment of SWOT can be a little confusing. A diesel repair shop might look at their standing in the community, or what assets they have available that they haven’t used yet.
- Have you built local partnerships? A big problem shops encounter is not being able to hire staff. “Developing relationships with nearby high schools and technical colleges that give you a candidate pool and relationships with your city [or region] … there’s lots of opportunity there,” Nick says. You can also build relationships with local coffee shops and hotels—places where stranded drivers might stay, for example, while you’re working on their vehicles.
- Are you utilizing user-generated content (UGC)? There’s a big audience for material that comes directly from a real person. “Show people the [stuff] in your shop,” Nick advises. “Make a TikTok account, hold your phone out, talk about what you’re working on … throw it up there. There’s a whole audience of people who are going to watch it. They might be other mechanics or they might be customers. You build and gain trust and credibility by showing you know what you’re doing.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THREATS?
At last we come to The Big Scary of the SWOT analysis: Who’s out to get you? What, if left alone, might torpedo your business?
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Do you have a lot of negative reviews? We’ll be blunt here: a single bad review can make someone think twice about going to your shop. A bunch of bad reviews will drive off more.
- Are you responding to bad reviews and rectifying the situation? If you do have negative reviews, dealing with them in a professional manner is critical—it shows you’re staying on top of things and willing to work with people. Bad reviews are not a place for you to spout off at a customer, by the way. A note that reads, “Hey, please get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to make things right” will do.
- What’s your competition like? First off, what kind of diesel shops are in your area, and what are their marketing practices like? Do you know what your competitors are doing at all? If not, it’s time to take a look and see what they’re up to. If they’re winning over your old customers, or even just being more visible, then you’ve got to step up your game.
MARKETING IS AN ONGOING ADVENTURE
And there you have it: the start of a marketing SWOT that will help you figure out what your shop is doing well and where it can use some improvement.
Marketing isn’t “set it and forget it.” A new Google algorithm update can completely blow up your ranking—after spending months at the top of the results page, you might not show up at all. And both search engines and social media platforms are constantly making tweaks, so just because something is working now does not mean it’s going to work until we get an HD release of the Star Wars Holiday Special.
So yeah, someone’s always got to keep an eye on your marketing. If you partner up with Dieselmatic, that someone can be us—you can be as involved or hands-off as you want. Get in touch with us today and we can help you SWOT your way to glory!