Social Selling in the Car Wash Industry: 10 Do's and Don'ts
If you’re looking for information on the car wash industry today, there’s a good chance you search the internet first. All this has accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic drove more business-to-business contacts online.
This shift to digital is here to stay, says Matt Lapolice, a Mark VII business development manager based in Canada. He has embraced social selling, which connects prospects and businesses via social media. “During the pandemic, you couldn’t make traditional cold calls or get in front of people for face-to-face meetings. Social selling is the future, especially with more people working from home.”
Building trust online relies on listening, sharing expertise and delivering customized solutions. Lapolice is comfortable with social selling, even though he has no personal social media accounts. “I took some marketing and social selling classes in college and saw how social media can be great for networking. This has become even more true in this era of COVID.”
Here are 10 do’s and don’ts Lapolice has learned about social selling:
- Do expand your network. Sign up for a social media account or two, if you haven’t already. Follow companies and leaders you admire in your industry. Join groups that discuss topics that interest you. “Listen to what people are saying online,” says Lapolice, who follows some car wash groups, along with architects and designers.
- Don’t feel like you have to be everywhere. Become active on one or two social media platforms that help you connect with your audience. Lapolice isn’t into TikTok but prefers LinkedIn. He also participates in some of Mark VII’s YouTube videos and has some experience with podcasts and blogs. “I don’t have time to be everywhere, but I want to be where our prospects are,” says Lapolice, who uses LinkedIn to help grow Mark VII’s business in the auto dealership segment.
- Do use social media to share helpful information. Social media offers an excellent place to share relevant, useful updates. “In a niche market like the car wash industry, exposure and awareness are key,” Lapolice says. “Don’t be pushy, but focus on sharing educational information that benefits customers and prospects, like updates on a new chemical line.”
- Don’t overshare. While it’s important to be active on social media, you don’t need to post multiple times a day. Just try to be consistent. “Being in front of the customer is important,” Lapolice says. “Post often enough that people know who you are, but not so much that they get sick of hearing from you.”
- Do ask permission to share your customers’ news. If you’d like to share your customers’ stories and photos, get their approval first. “I want to help promote their business, but I want them to feel comfortable with the process,” says Lapolice, who sees a positive response to this approach.
- Don’t tell the whole story all at once. Social media can offer an ideal venue to promote news like the installation of a new car wash. Instead of sharing a photo of smiling customers standing by their new car wash, however, Lapolice takes a different approach to gain more attention. “People are most interested in seeing the machine. We capture at least three or four photos over the course of an install, which runs about two weeks, and post them as the install progresses. Then the completed project is even more interesting to the people following along.”
- Do respond quickly to people’s questions. When you post useful information online, people will contact you. They expect answers quickly. “I want to position myself as an expert and encourage people reach out to me,” says Lapolice, who has found that this reduces the need for cold calling. “I pride myself on getting back to people within 24 hours or sooner.”
- Don’t use gimmicks. After you send connection requests to people and they accept your invitation, don’t start bombarding them with sales pitches and promotions. “If they need our products, they know where to find us,” Lapolice says. Also, don’t get too personal in your social media posts. “I like to keep my posts focused on the car wash business, not my favorite sports teams or things like that could turn people off,” he says.
- Do experiment to see what works. Dive into social selling, learn by doing, and see what works for you. It’s often a process of trial and error, Lapolice says. “You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Try new things. What do you have to lose?”
- Don’t expect instant results. Just as the sales cycle is usually quite long in the car wash business, building relationships through social selling is a long game. “People like instant gratification, but that’s not how you succeed with social selling,” Lapolice says. “Don’t expect your social media posts to generate immediate sales, and don’t expect anything in return.” More business will come with time, as long as you keep sharing useful information consistently. “If you don’t buy from me right away, it’s okay,” Lapolice says. “There’s enough food to go around, and I want to help the car wash industry as a whole. Social selling it’s all about expanding your network, growing relationships and being a helpful resource for people.”