Word of mouth advertisingThere are many different forms of advertising but some just work better and are more cost effective for a service type business than others and some that worked well many years ago no longer produce decent results in this high tech day and age.

So what is the best way to bring in work? Aside from word of mouth, which is the best and most cost effective advertising you will ever find I would have to put Magnetic auto signs and business cards at the top of the list. Business cards can be handed out or placed in strategic places such as antique and jewelry stores etc. The advantages of business cards are obvious and well known so I won’t bore you with all the reasons you should have them except to say that they are affordable, effective and a must. Magnetic auto signs are an excellent choice and work extremely well. Just a sign saying something like “Pete’s Antique Clock Repair” with a phone number and website address can work wonders. Even if a person doesn’t call right away these signs are an excellent branding medium for your business name and when the time does come that they need your services they will recognize your name when searching for someone. I’ve heard again and again from clock and watch maker friends how customers have told them they had seen their signs dozens of times while driving around town. The small one time expense for these signs and the ability to remove and place them on whatever vehicle you may be driving that day makes them an excellent, highly cost effective advertising choice. These signs are always out there working for you even when your car, truck or van is parked at the mall or shopping center. Always take your business cards with you when you have your sign on your vehicle because people will often walk up and ask you for one. These signs work and should definitely be part of an advertising campaign.

As effective as these signs are for branding as well as bringing in an occasional impulse repair it’s best to use them as part of a complete advertising campaign made up of a few different advertising techniques with each medium interacting and supporting the others. A good, balanced advertising campaign will put your service in front of a customers eyes or ears when the ‘need’ for your services arise. Getting in front of this person is only half the battle or possibly even less than half if competition is high and these competing services are also possible choices. This is where branding can be so powerful. Successful branding will cause a person to choose your service over others they may see. To site a couple of simple examples: When you have a clogged toilet and need a plumbing service FAST who would you likely choose Ralphs plumbing and plunger service or RotoRooter? Or you’re in the store and need some peanut butter. Would your first choice be the jar that says ‘Peanut Butter’ or ‘Skippys’? Okay, maybe you would choose the other brands because you’re adventurous but statistics show that most of us would grab the product that has pounded their name into our heads through persistent branding. That’s why we see their ads year after year after year.

Prior to the birth of the internet one of the best forms of advertising for the small service business for attracting local retail customers was the phone book yellow pages. Even well established shops with a good repeat customer base usually ran some type of yellow page ad as this was the first place people would go to find someone in their area to provide a needed service. Although the phone book yellow pages can still work well at times in many rural areas this has certainly changed for the most part in more populated areas with the emergence of search engines like Google, Bing and many others. Now we can just type keywords like “Clock Repair” into the search field in our smart phone, laptop or what have you and your location will be determined by your IP address and then automatically matched up with “Clock Repair” listings in your area along with customer ratings, street map and precise driving directions to the clock shops front door, all neatly displayed in your browser.

One can see the importance of having an internet presence such as a website or blog and/or listing your business on review sites such as Yelp, Yellowbot, Angieslist etc. These review sites are so important these days that most local searches will show their listings dominating the entire first page. This is one reason that it’s essential to list your business with them and keep your information updated. By listing with these sites and optimizing your listing as much as possible as well as having a decent mobile optimized blog or website you will stand a much better chance of being seen and noticed when a prospective customer does a search in your area.

If you live in a heavily populated city then competition may make first page search engine placement difficult. Fighting for the top positions on page one in a competitive niche such as watch repair can be complicated and time consuming. Search engine optimization (SEO) experts can be hired to help move you into the top positions but this can prove to be costly and top positions may only turn out to be temporary. This is where services like Google AdWords and Bing keyword advertising may work for you. By opening an AdWords or Bing account you can bid on geographically targeted keyword placement ads. These are the paid text ads that show up on search pages. Prices vary depending on competition for certain keywords but a well planned watch or clock repair adwords campaign can sometimes prove to be a cost effective advertising choice when geographically targeted.

Newspapers can also be good for advertising. It’s important to choose quality newspapers or circulars. Pennysaver and other ‘bargain’ type papers attract bargain hunters who often will not be willing to pay your prices and might actually try to haggle with you on the repair price. As I mentioned in an earlier report there are some things, at least for me that are not negotiable in this business. My prices always remain firm. Price negotiating almost always leads to work quality dropping off due to cutting corners to make up for limited compensation. This will usually come back to bite you. This also applies to online bargain sites like Craigslist. Craigslist is great for many things. I actually love going through Craigslist hunting for great tool and shop stuff deals. I’ve never advertised anything on Craigslist though so can only relay what I’ve heard from clock makers who have tried it. To summarize what they all seem to say; for a service business like watch or clock repair it’s a definite no go!
Coupons offering a small percentage off of a repair price can sometimes work well in quality local newspapers. I’ve always looked at newspaper and magazine ads as long term commitments. It usually takes several views over a period of time for these ads to start ‘pulling’ enough to make a reasonable profit. When they do hit that point though they tend to remain effective for a very long time. It’s a bit of an investment at first but can be excellent when approached carefully.

Other ways to get your name and services out there could be:

These are just a few different ways of bringing in repair work that has worked well for me and others. I hope this has helped and can possibly give you some ideas to help create a great campaign that will work well for you.
Take care for now,


5 Responses

  1. Well shucks Bob. I guess I’ll go ahead and cancel my contract with the Goodyear blimp folks.
    Figured it might work though.
    Anyhow, thanks for all the tips, they seem to be “right on”. As soon as I get my confidence built up and fend off the lawsuits for shoddy repairs, I’ll start using some of your advice. Just kidding about the lawsuits….I do it right or not at all! Thanks again.


  2. Say Bob,

    You sure do know how to get someone’s attention. You have been putting some real interesting articles out there. Especially, being a newbe and wanna be it’s like music to my ears. Keep up the good work, and thanks for everything.

    John Dunn

    1. Hey John sorry for not commenting sooner but I didn’t realize you had put this up here. Thanks a bunch and really glad you’re enjoying the reports!

  3. Hi Bob, I don’t have any interest in starting a business but I do like to read about clocks and related fields of clock repair. I have enjoyed these articles on tools and troubleshooting. There is very good information in this article for people starting a business, some of it I didn’t know or think of.


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