Help! There’s Road Construction In Front Of My Shop! text with Shop Marketing Pros SMP logo beneath it in blue blob with squiggly red arrow pointing to a construction cone with a DOTD white and black "Sidewalk Closed" sign ontop

Help! There’s Road Construction In Front Of My Shop!

We do not shy away from sharing our tragic road construction story. After all, it is part of us, our history, our present, and will forever guide our future. Sounds dramatic, probably so, but it is what it is!

When Brian and I owned our auto repair shop in Apex, NC we found ourselves right smack in the middle of a road construction project that played a part in putting us out of business.

Our loss can be your gain.

If you find yourself driving up to your shop one morning and are greeted by orange cones and barrels I’m going to warn you: the emotions that overcome you can be out of control. Pure reckless emotion. At least that’s how it was for me. Brian tends to hold it together more (outwardly at least).

Those orange cones and barrels remained a part of our shop scenery from October through May when we finally threw in the towel. There’s a lot more to this story – A LOT but that’s for one of our podcast episodes, or a book, or a documentary or something. For the purposes of this blog, I want to share with you how hindsight is absolutely 20/20 and offer up some ideas of what we would have done differently to save our shop.


Know the problems.

When your shop is being interfered with by road construction, it’s visually unappealing & it’s possibly concerning to customers. Identifying the main problems can help you put them at ease. See if you can find out the following about the project.

a bunch of road construction signs lined up on sidewalk outside of business

  • What’s the plan here?
  • Who is responsible?
  • How long will it last?

Also, be prepared to answer other more specific questions your customers may have.

  • Will this damage my vehicle?
  • How much extra time will it take me to get in and out?
  • Is my vehicle going to get stuck at the shop and unable to get out because of traffic blockages?


Be proactive — marketing matters.

  • MEET WITH YOUR TEAM. When you put multiple people together you can get so many more great ideas. Talk to your team. Inform them of what’s going on – share everything. They’re interested in seeing this work out for the good of the shop, too. You’re not alone – get together with your team to collaborate, brainstorm, and come up with ideas.

  • GO LIVE! Video updates (weekly at the least). Go outside and video with the construction insight. Address the issues/concerns head-on.

  • SHUTTLE. Work with a friend in business right outside the construction area. Consider meeting your customers there and then shuttling them where they need to go. Will require manpower, which may be difficult. Bring someone with you to bring the car back to the shop while someone shuttles customers where they need to go. THINK AHEAD! Make the shop experience as pleasant as possible to overcompensate for the frustrating road construction experience. What can you offer in the shop?

    • Connect with a nearby bakery and buy their end-of-day pastries and then offer them up to your customers each day.

    • Offer other snacks, coffee, etc.

  • COMMUNICATE. Utilize ALL forms of communication to be honest and upfront with your customers. Just like when the pandemic hit – you may have utilized website, email, text, social…. To communicate your plans. Do the same now. Calm nerves and potential frustrations by sharing your plan of attack.

    • Confirmation email/text. In that email/text let them know what’s going on and how you are planning to ease the drop-off for the customer.

    • Send email/text reminders the day before the dropoff. Alert them to the update on construction progress and let them know what to expect. No surprises! Help them with their concerns. If they’re in business and have appointments to get to, work to get to, etc, and are rushing – alleviate the concerns. Make it an easy process.

    • Add a banner to your website.

    • Utilize social media regularly for updates on the project.

  • STAND OUT. Don’t allow the construction scene to block your shop. Consider temporary signage such as those feather flags, sign wavers (yes, I really said that), heck: even consider putting something eye-catchy on top of your building! I remember seeing BBQ restaurants with a big huge bull or pig on top of their building 🙂 Can you put an eye-grabbing visual on top of your building?

  • MAKE IT OBVIOUS. Clearly mark your alternate entrance with signs (like sidewalk signs) and let people know on social and in email marketing where they can enter the building, or explain to them the alternate road route to get to your business
NAPA Auto Care Center "Temporary Entrance" sign with blue arrow directing customers where to go along side a Race Trac gas station


Use your relationships.

  • COACHING. Make an urgent call to your coach. That’s what he or she is there for – to coach you through the peaks and the valleys of shop ownership. They exist to help you, and when it comes to road construction – you will want help. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees and your coach will help you with some big-picture thinking.

  • SHOP FRIENDS. Another reason to be super involved in the industry is to create friends with other shop owners. We’re better together. You’ll meet shop owners who have been through this before and will have valuable advice and encouragement to get you through to the other side.

  • GET REAL with “the powers that be”. Talk to those responsible. Whether it’s the state level, county, or city – get in touch. Go to City Council meetings. Implore, demand, and fight for your business.

  • UTILIZE YOUR PARTNERSHIP. Are you a member of the Chamber of Commerce? They’re there to assist you. Talk to them about what marketing opportunities they have available. Think of your nearby friends in business. Partner together. There’s power in numbers!

  • MEET THE CONTRACTORS. Take some time to befriend the contractors. You may find out some “insider” information which can prove to be helpful in the process. Our friend Adam Rath at Allied Automotive in Pennsylvania even fed the contractor team pizza one day during the construction project at the entrance to his shop. He won their support and they even helped with onsite traffic directing!


Create a social campaign.

You have a great asset in your social media platforms. Get on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Go “live” on video for a few moments each day or a few times a week to show and tell.

Use this as a chance to educate your audience on what’s going on, the progress, and your shop’s plan and response.

Shop Marketing Pros owners Kim and Brian Walker pictured on a smart phone while doing a Facebook Live video while at an Expo


Email, email, email.

Even if you need to temporarily email your audience more than normal — do it!

Stay in touch. Stay top of mind. Be real and authentic. Tell them you need them to remain supportive of you through this short period of time.

Stay positive and hopeful — it’s contagious!

Email weekly or at least once a month.


Text your customers.

Your shop software is likely set up to allow you to text quickly and easily.

Do it.

Send a confirmation text and a reminder text.

Don’t forget to send a thank-you text!

Let them know what to expect.


Discuss it in-person.

  • Go over and above with friendliness.

  • Your customer is likely in a rush. Trying to get in and out. They have no time for this (neither do you) and they will respect, admire, and appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  • Walk out to their car and do what’s needed right there so they can be on their way.

  • Thank them. Thank them again.

  • Be honest, real, transparent, and authentic.

  • Consider having your own person out front to help with directing traffic during your busy, most expected times of drop off and pick up.
A male and female couple dressed in casual clothing are sitting on bar stools discussing at shop

Facing a road construction project does not mean it’s over for your shop. While there are many, many stories out there that will lead you to believe that (like ours) the fact of the matter is there is always something to learn from those stories and new strategies to employ. The key is to remain positive, be proactive, creative, and considerate. You will also need a dose (or many) of persistence, patience, and perseverance. While we’re using p-words, throw in some prayer while you’re at it!

Hang in there. Take a deep breath. Now, go!

about the author headshot Kim Walker

About The Author

Kim Walker

Born to connect, teach and serve, Kim is one of the lucky ones who gets to put her life purpose into action while working. Her career roots of being a teacher and school counselor fit perfectly into her role at Shop Marketing Pros. As Co-Owner of the company, Kim enjoys pairing her experiences as a past automotive repair shop owner with her marketing for repair shops. She loves teaching, connecting and serving each shop as if it were her own. Kim is a Master Certified Solution Provider in Email Marketing with Constant Contact, was a StoryBrand Certified Guide and actively involved in numerous civic, professional and community organizations.
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