What is the Best Kind of Advertising?

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Answer? A program that insures your bays are filled every day with customers that will purchase Tires and Service from you, at reasonable gross margins. There shouldn't be any mystery about that. The question is - what does that program look like? Well if you are a Big Retail Chain or New Car dealership, the program looks a lot different then if you are a small or midsize Independent. Big Retail and New Car Dealers have the resources and budgets for sophisticated database programs, amazing websites and over the top digital campaigns, while still spending big bucks on traditional advertising. To assess ROI on each campaign, Big Retail and New Car Dealers have really cool tools that can analyse every metric under the sun. If you are an Independent (if you advertise at all), you probably have a web site, FaceBook page and Twitter Account (or at least I hope so). You may do some ADVO or Money Mailer type advertising monthly and a declined service/reminder program. For big events, … [Read more...]

A Day in the Life of Retail Tire & Service

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  It all starts with a Plan - Here is Mine - What's yours? ;-)     … [Read more...]

Pricing Brakes Competitively – And Making Money

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Let's face it, charging book time for brake jobs is quickly becoming a thing of the past (if it's not already). Even my local Ford dealership is offering me a $99.00 coupon for front brakes.  Brakes Plus is offering all "four wheels" for $99.00 (including resurfacing the rotors!). The Questions: How do I make money doing brakes - The right way How do I pay my Technicians enough to want to do Brakes (especially flat rate Techs) Both are great questions, that need serious consideration. First, I think its important to always look at the big picture when doing any type of service.  Big picture meaning what happens if you are pricing your basic brake job at $249 and the guy down the street is doing the same brake job for $119?  What happens when the customer pays your price, then finds out that the same brake job could have been had for 50% less? Short answer:  You probably don't do a lot of brake jobs and the brake jobs you do, you end up  losing some customers over … [Read more...]

Are You Connected?

…To your suppliers?  Electronically?  Why should you be?  You could be wasting lots of time and money, and making costly mistakes, by entering things multiple times.  In today’s electronic age, connectivity is much easier and more affordable than it has been in past years. When computers exchange data, instead of humans re-entering it, there is virtually no margin for error.  The system doesn’t change the numbers along the way; data remains constant.  Just think of credit card processing for a moment.  There are millions of transactions that are being processed every day, error free.  When is the last time you had a credit card statement come through with a different amount than what you signed for?  Typically any errors in charges were created by the person manually keying in the amount of the charge.  And then those charges appeared on your receipt, right or wrong. In addition to data integrity, speed and efficiency come into play.  Imagine needing to look up a part for a … [Read more...]

3 Bootstrapping Customer Driving Techniques

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One of the most stressful times in any retail environment is when you are staffed to the hilt but no customers are walking through the door.  You look to your left and to your right and you have hourly employees that you are paying to just stand around.  I have been there.  Not Fun!  While there in no sure-fire way to instantly acquire customers, there are some techniques that many dealers use that seem to be pretty effective. #1 Alway have a box of oil change coupons on hand like these.  If there are no customers in your location, then its a safe bet that your sales and technicians are probably not too busy.  With the oil change coupons in hand, point your staff to the nearest traffic intersection to hand out the coupons.  You will be pleasantly  surprised how may coupons are redeemed in the coming weeks. #2 Have an "A" Frame board on hand with an "unbeatable" oil change offer like this.  Put the "A" Frame out in front of your location when you have empty bays. #3  Have Free … [Read more...]

Declined Services – a Goldmine of opportunity

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An admittedly unscientific poll of a couple hundred dealers in the Western Part of the United States suggest that only 30% of dealers actually have a declined service program in place. Considering that as an industry, customers that are presented with declined service notifications return for service 20% of the time, it seems like a no-brainer to start a declined service program. Most retail automotive repair POS systems have a declined service software packages built in, so if your does, lets start using it!  Some dealers utilize data-base marketing companies to administer their declined service program, while still others (I have a few customers that are still working out of a cigar box  ), still use a simple handwritten post card and a phone call. If you are among the 30% that are actively engaged in reaching out to your declined service customers, I am sure you are reaping the benefits.  If you are not, let’s get started!  Need help or advice? Contact me. Good … [Read more...]

Credit Card Financing Tips from GE Money

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There is a great series of  three short videos that I recommend that you view over at GE Money's site.   The videos discuss real world strategies on how to introduce financing to your customers. I am a big fan of utilizing in-house customer "preferred" cards to finance purchases.  Inpart because its a proven fact that store-card customers spend more money, complain less frequently (mostly due to elimination of buyers remorse) and are much more loyal to your business then bank card or cash customers.  Check out the videos and let me know what you think. The videos are only about 4 minutes each.  You can find the videos here. Be sure to down load the talking points also found on the very same page. … [Read more...]

How to Grow New Customer Count by 40% in 90 Days

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In Automotive Retail; statically speaking, the average new customer costs a dealer somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 to acquire.  These customer acquisition cost are mostly related to advertising expenses and promotional “lost liter” services. So you spend $300 to get yourself a new customer.  A customer, that if you do a good job will be a customer for life; spending on average between $300 – $1000 per year. Sounds good right?  Now for the bad news – As an industry, our customer retention rate for first time customers is only 30%!  That means that for every ten new customers that come into your shop with that $15.99 oil change coupon, only three will return. Not too good, right? Sounds like we are not doing a good job MOST of the time with our new customers (as an industry). Why don’t they return? There are lots of reason, but the reality is we didn’t do anything to WOW our new guests.  We didn’t do anything to differentiate ourselves from the … [Read more...]

Free Gift – Inspection Form

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Good Morning! Today’s best practice:  Use an inspection form to document your inspection on every vehicle. For Dealers that do not have an inspection form or feel that the one that is currently in use by their service department is inadequate, you can down-load the form depicted above here.  I put this form together by taking the best concepts from several other inspection forms. Great vehicle inspections are useless without great documentation!  Demand that your technicians completely fill out an inspection form on every vehicle. Good Selling! This form has been updated please go to this page for the free revised vehicle inspection form. … [Read more...]

Focus Need Apply …

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Greetings from Seattle/Tacoma Airport.  As I await my flight back to Phoenix, I feel compelled to share a recent Dealer visit with you.  Now as customary with my posts, names and locations are omitted to protect the “guilty”. In the land of Les Schwab and Tire Factory we find lots of Independent Tire Dealers; Some Dealers have met the increased competition of the large chains head on, leveraging their competitive advantage over their heavy weight contenders by promoting more convenient store hours, excellent customer service with tag lines such as: “One Stop Shop”, “Family Owned and Operated”  and  “Your Neighborhood Tire and Service Experts”. Unfortunately some Dealers have compromised their services and livelihood, choosing to instead offer other services like Radio installation?, Moving Services and of all things, The State Lottery to retain their customer base. Shockingly; None of the aforementioned Dealers are successful by any standard … [Read more...]