Are you afraid that companies won’t take you seriously when they see your shop? Do you worry that a customer might not give you an order because you are a garage shop? Nervous that the DIY light table or hat press you rigged doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles to impress a customer, even though it works?
Your shop image is whatever you make it. There is no single rule that says your brand shouldn’t help mask the insecurities of your business. The idea here is to make your business appear as legitimate as possible from the outside looking in. You might not have three brand new autos yet, but your flyers and website don’t need to highlight that, either. Some of the largest shops don’t have a walk-in friendly shop, so don’t think you need one to build your brand.
Instead, spend time creating a brand of how you want your business to be. Build a brand that appears reputable, clean, and professional. The same way business mentors teach you to act like the business you want to be, not the business you are today—do the same with your brand.
Here are five basic ideas to build your brand:
- Invest in a high-quality website. This goes without saying, but within a few seconds, a customer can really tell if you are legitimate based on your website. There are several solutions out there such as Squarespace or Weebly that can create a quick and professional website.
- Spend time creating a uniform brand. Work on a color palette, a logo, literature, and use it on all fronts of your business. Your business cards, website, and social media pages should look the same. This creates brand integrity. Use a site like 99designs to achieve this.
- Highlight the capabilities. Spend time creating literature and advertisements that show your capabilities. With a wide network of contract printers, there truly is not a job too big or small for your shop. You don’t know when the next 2,000-piece order will knock on your door, so be prepared to leverage your relationships in the industry.
- Build a social media presence. Customers will stalk you ahead of time, so make sure you have a Facebook and Instagram that is regularly updated with positive reviews. Reach out to your ten favorite customers and have them leave a five-star review.
- Create a Google Listing for your business. Arguably the most important, but you need to be searchable on Google. It does not have to be anything lavish, but make sure your business is registered.