Jun 15, 2024

Should You Turn to TikTok to Market Your Repair Shop?

Should You Turn to TikTok to Market Your Repair Shop?

Once upon a time, tick-tock was synonymous with time.

Tick-tock, you’d say when you wanted something done fast. It’s later than you think.

Of course, we’re not here to wax poetic about the passing of time or even the song “Clocks” by Visions of Atlantis. No, mi amigos, today we’re here to talk about that most mysterious of entities, the company that casually dropped the “c” from both words comprising its name, the social platform with the ability to strike fear into the heart of even the most battle-hardened elder millennials.

That’s right. Today we’re taking a long look at TikTok.

(Pause for reaction.)

We didn’t just wake up and decide to investigate the Tok, by the way—we recently got a few questions about whether it’s a smart marketing avenue for diesel repair shops to follow. So…is it? And if you’re not onboard with its video glories, should you try to join the party?

We spoke to Nick Adams, Managing Director of Dieselmatic, and Valerie Klein, Senior Marketing Specialist at WrenchWay, to get their take on the situation.


TikTok! A lot of us first became aware of it when people used it to share silly dances. Then there was the sea shanty craze that brought “Wellerman” back into the public consciousness (obligatory mention that Santiano or “Santy Anno” is the best sea song of all time). Fast forward to 2024, when there are apparently over a billion TikTok users around the world and a tok for pretty much every interest: books, dating misfortunes, music, and more.

Disclaimer: Like any social media platform, you kind of get out of it what you put into it. Like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, TikTok has had its share of controversies, problems, and general weirdos. And yeah, there’s that whole…ongoing legal situation that we are not going to get into here. The point is, it’s going to be up to you to police what you see and who comments on your videos. We don’t say this to scare you, but rather to encourage you to keep an eye on all your social media. If you see a lot of things on TikTok that you don’t like…well…it may not be the platform for you.

OK, so with that out of the way…

Right now, it seems like everyone is either on TikTok or knows someone who is. If you aren’t watching videos on the platform itself, you’ve probably seen copies of them floating around on Instagram or YouTube (more about that later). In short, a lot of people seem to like it a lot.

“You can make it your own,” Valerie says. “I think it’s fun to take something and make a video of it.”

And once you make that video, you can show it to those who might be interested in it.

That’s the really cool thing about TikTok: It’s really, really good at showing you what you want to see.

“It has a very intuitive algorithm that matches the videos that you see to your interests incredibly fast,” Nick tells us. “Whatever you’re into, there’s a whole world of it out there.”

In theory, all social media platforms are trainable to a point. But TikTok’s algorithm is really good. Those on the marketing side have sat up and taken notice because harnessing the power of that algorithm could expose their businesses to entire swaths of people who might turn into perfect customers.

But in the words of everyone’s favorite Dane, Hamlet, therein lies the rub…


TikTok is, to put it mildly, intensely personal. A big part of its charm, Nick says, is that it feels very authentic. It’s just a person and their phone uploading videos. There’s not a lot of varnish on them. That’s appealing to a lot of people these days, particularly when content produced by marketing teams—which still seems like a very mysterious type of alchemy verging on black magic—takes on an increasingly polished format.

But the charm of a video being made by just one person and their phone remains endearing. That, says Nick, is why Dieselmatic hasn’t offered it as a service: their entire model is based around taking marketing off the shop owner’s hands, whereas TikTok requires, well, a lot of time (and hands, because someone needs to hold the phone).

(Also, it’s really hard for your marketing agency to film your shop when they aren’t in the shop with you. But hey, one day when we all master teleportation…)

So you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment to start a TikTok. Valerie’s team has a phone and a $30 mic they found on Amazon. You don’t need fancy video editing software, either (you can edit right inside the app).


Sure. If you want.

(How’s that for a definitive answer?)

Because it can require so much of you or your staff’s time—we generally classify TikTok as a “labor of love.” You really have to want to make videos and talk about what you do, and provide people from all over the world with a peek into your life at a diesel repair shop.

And don’t expect your stuff to blow up overnight, either. It can take six months or so for videos to start gaining traction, and that’s with consistent posting.

Oh, yeah. Consistency.

Social media is most effective when it’s updated frequently. Posting a video on TikTok every few months isn’t going to build you much of a following. If that kind of commitment makes you nervous, maybe back off on the TikTok idea for a bit. But if you’re willing to give it a shot, try posting once a week. If you find you like it, try upping it to three times a week.

(Honestly, for the best traction, daily posting is probably your best bet, but let’s start slow and work our way up.)

With that said, you can get a lot of mileage out of one TikTok video. You can re-up them to various other social media networks (Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, and even Facebook!), so honestly, one TikTok vid could lead to a bunch of posts—and a pretty far reach.


I dunno. Diesel stuff?

For real though. Look at your shop (or your truck, if you’re a mobile repair tech). It is a freaking gold mine of content. Marketing specialists like Valerie wander into a shop and instantly feel a twinge of envy. “They have such great content right there at their fingertips, and they don’t even know what they have, because they see it everyday,” she tells us. “These shops have beautiful facilities, and people with amazing personalities … funny, quirky—and then the guys who are kind of quiet and put their nose to the grindstone … I’m like, ‘You guys should be talking about [this.]’”

But here’s a few ideas to help you Tik the Tok:

  • Before and after: Take a video of a vehicle or engine before and after you spruce it up. Presto, chango!
  • Repair walkthrough: Take your phone with you as you embark on a glorious repair session. Bear in mind you may be in for some editing later (and you may end up spending more time on the repair to allow for pauses in filming and getting the right camera angle).
  • Shop walkthrough: Pull back the curtain on your operation. Introduce people to your techs, walk them through the bays, or let folks see how you organize your truck.
  • Toolbox tours: What’s in your drawers? Walk people through your gear! (Valerie has seen a couple of these really blow up on TikTok.)
  • Put together a collage: Not into video just yet? You can take pictures, edit them into a video within TikTok, and slap some music on it. Bam, you’re done!


Don’t go into TikTok expecting an instant, explosive following and phones ringing off the hook. Look at it as a place where you can balance showing off what you know with entertainment—remember, for a long time, TikTok was the place for silly dances and…uh…not much else. But like many of us, it has evolved.

So there you have it. TikTok can be a nice boost to your social media and general digital footprint if you stick with it.

But you do need to stick with it.

And for the love of coffee, don’t aim for perfection. Perfect is the enemy of good.

“Just post it,” Valerie says. “It’s never gonna be perfect. I had to figure that out, too. Just post it and let it fly.”

Suz Baldwin