Business-Building Strategies That Work Anywhere Part 1

Competition for the public’s auto repair and maintenance business remains stiff. But there are ways a general automotive repair shop like yours can step up its processes and efforts to acquire additional market share, improve efficiencies, increase sales, and attain better profitability.

Today’s auto repair businesses have a tendency during peak activity seasons to take in far too many vehicles than is efficient in maximizing profitability, and not enough during those times when the service and repair of automobiles are at a low priority.

The goal for any repair shop should be to schedule enough vehicles to accomplish customer service and sales-per-repair order goals, and maximize the use of the facility and each technician’s work production, all while continuing to increase market share and profitability.

Winter and summer usually generate periods of high activity because weather extremes during those seasons often have an adverse effect on many vehicle systems. Motorists’ travel habits also contribute to the increase in activity during these periods. Many repair shops during these periods of high activity usually suffer a breakdown of essential business-building systems, such as vehicle inspections, preparation of estimates for repairs and maintenance revealed by those inspections, continuing advertising campaigns, and instituting follow-up programs.

Once the high-activity periods pass, many shops experience a decline in traffic and sales, so many shop owners then look for ways to increase business.

Do you want to pick up new customers, increase your vehicle count from existing customers, or increase the frequency of visits from existing customers? Would you like to increase your sales-per-transaction figure, sell more of a particular repair or service, or increase business of a specific make or model vehicle? Maybe you simply want to see your gross profits increase? Whenever you decide to enter the business-building mode, first determine what results you’re looking for, then select the techniques that will help you and your staff accomplish those results.

The techniques described here have proven successful for a number of shops. Some may give you the competitive advantage you’ve been seeking.

Increase Your New Customer Count

Ever wonder why the person that’s either picking up or dropping off your customer isn’t a customer too? These prospective new customers are within several feet of your front door and never come in! Instituting a Taxi Certificate program can remedy that situation.

The Taxi Certificate program has four goals:

  1. To increase goodwill by providing your customers with a method to reward those who provide the door-to-door service.
  2. To supply drivers (prospective new customers) with an incentive to try your products and services.
  3. To create a method for existing customers to earn a reward for their referral.
  4. To increase your new customer count.

A good Taxi Certificate program should contain the following elements:

  • An actual printed sheet of paper titled “(Your company name) Taxi Certificate” that can fit into a glove box and contains your company’s vital information (address, phone number, shop hours, etc).
  • A compelling discount offer towards your products and/or services.
  • Areas for customers to pencil in their name and the name of their “taxi” driver.
  • A statement saying that once the certificate is redeemed, original customers will receive a gift/discount/free service on their next visit.

Alert your staff to notice when customers are “taxied” to and from your shop so they can offer this unique program. The results of this program have been phenomenal. In our experience, almost 100% of the certificates are redeemed, with the initial visit yielding an average ticket in excess of $200!

Increase Your Vehicle Count from Existing Customers

You can promote a 2-for-1 Oil Change program that’s designed to bring in additional vehicles from the same household that you normally don’t service. Such a program would also allow you to service vehicles belonging to your customer’s relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and business associates.

A 2-for-1 Oil Change program should contain as many of the following elements as possible:

  • A compelling price only slightly above the lowest price charged for an oil change in your market area.
  • The suggestion that existing customer pair up with relatives, friends, neighbors, etc, to take advantage of the offer.
  • Requirement of full payment for the first oil change, with a “voucher” for the person the customer wants to get the “free” oil change.
  • A not-too-distant expiration date, to create an urgency to take advantage of the offer immediately.

Increase Vehicle Frequency From Existing Customers

To eliminate the competition, lock in your customers long term for their oil changes, and create a guaranteed repeat-visit situation, consider implementing a Lifetime Oil Change program.

Such a program is designed to capture customers for all their oil changes because you’ll now “owe” the service to those customers. It will also increase the frequency of customer visits to every 3000 miles or so, or roughly four times a year, and improve your shop’s immediate cash flow, since this is offered as a prepaid program.

Check back with us next time for more information on how a Lifetime Oil Change program works, including its various elements and benefits, and ways to help sell your customers on this type of program.

In the meantime, are you interested in other marketing techniques for your business? Enroll now in Guerrilla Shop Management! Guerrilla Shop Management begins February 18th. For more information click here, or call us at 800-755-0988.

Written by RLO Training