Fall Back On New Promotions

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Dave Skrobot - Also by this author

Safety and Value?

Safety and Convenience?

Safety, value and convenience?

Safety, Value, Convenience and Price! There are always a number of angles for running a Fall Auto Check up Promotion.

You want to be unique in running a Fall Promo, but also you want to stay with the tried, tested and true favorites---hate to steal a Chevy-ism!

The bottom line is we should always think in terms of saving the customer time and or money when we are writing an ad for the Fall auto checkup and maintenance.

The question is does one go for the traditional Pre-Winterization Special.

Speaking of which what do we call it? Fall; Pre-winter; After-School….?

Whatever we call it, “After-School Fall Winterization”, “Fall TuneUp Special”. The bottom line is we want to attract new customers and get previous customers back on the hoist.

Personally, I like the wording in "Fall Winter-ization". Combine the two seasons into one. After all, in September or October in this country we can have all three seasons, especially if we get another blast of the Summer heat which rocked this country in July.

Whatever the season, the Fall Promotion to attract customers in the door could cover a number of facets.

Firstly, and by no means the most importantly is price. I always have liked to offer two options and maybe three in running a promotion. One a loss leader from fifty to one hundred bucks and another from one hundred to one hundred and fifty. Depending on where your shop is and what the shop labor rates are, most every customer knows you gotta spend at least a hundred bucks to do a minor service and analysis.

The next question is

What do we advertise?

Whatever price point we advertise, the whole idea is to get the car on the hoist or get our techs looking under the hood. That's why incorporating a tire rotation is vital as part of our advertised special. It gives us a chance to inspect the tires, the brakes, the suspension components and any other items in that ball park. Many stores incorporate an inspection or AVR test as part of there Fall Service. This satisfies the “peace of Mind” factor of will there car start when the cold North Atlantic and Beaufort Seas winds start whistling.

Still other shops like to make sure that somewhere in the advertised services is a Safety inspection. Speaking of Safety Inspection, why don't we advertise that we do a "safety test drive" along with a Safety inspection. After all, is that not a normal routine when we do any work on a car? Why don’t we advertise it?

Some of the most effective ads I have seen are ones which add a lot of value for the money-or more specifically-they add a lot of words. A Subaru Dealership in the Maritimes promoted their fall special and justified the $79.95 with many words and a truck load of perceived value. It ran something like this:

30 Point analysis

Lube, Oil, and filter

Vital Fluid check which includes

Coolant/Antifreeze test---we test temperature range and corrosion effectiveness

Brake fluid: Test Moisture content

Safety inspection and Safety test Drive

Wash engine shampoo and vacuum

Only: $79.95, tax,enviro extra

There’s a lot of perceived value in this type of wordage. Still another service to be advertised is one which incorporates a Fuel Service or Tuneup.

Even though many of today’s newer cars and trucks do not need a tuneup, what with long life plugs and electronic ignition systems. The mentality with many consumers is that they still need a tuneup once or twice a year. Why should we fight it? Let’s not fight it. Lets foster it; take for example this type of ad message:

30 Point analysis

Amps, Voltage, regulator check

Lube, Oil and filter

Tune -up ( replace cap, rotor, spark plugs-parts extra) if necessary

Minor Fuel system service

Safety inspection Drive

For Only $XXX.XX tax, enviro extra

The beauty of this kind of ad message is that it can be a great way to bring up Added Value Suggestions (up sells), especially if your Service Advisors and appointment coordinators are up to speed on asking the right questions when the customer calls or comes in to the door. For example: The advisor should make a comment like this ".unless of course you are experiencing sluggishness or not as good a fuel economy as you would like". Let's be honest. This is a loaded statement--who can’t answer this one with. “Gosh, come to think of it I’m not all that happy with my fuel economy”

Then add with a "...most of our customer have found when they are experiencing these symptoms that a major emission service really helps which includes cleaning the injectors, the top of the valves, the plenum and the throttle body from the carbon build up".

They can follow up with that by explaining why in today's day and age the need for fuel related service is very important in conjunction with a tune up.

Finally, on another topic of marketing; what should be the prime objective with spending money on advertising? Brand and store awareness----sure. To attract new customers ---absolutely!

The bottom line is some of our best customers are the ones we have already serviced, especially whom I call our “A” customers. Those who, if we look at our database, constitute usually 20 percent of our customer base. Those 20 percent gems are those whom have brought their car to us numerous times, maybe brought their friends, or families' car with them, if we are going to send a direct mail piece to them have a “Friends and Family bonus.” Any referral from an existing client will receive a Special bonus. Not a discount, but some added value for them being a Friends and Family customer maybe a free tire rotation; maybe a complimentary wash, vacuum and engine shampoo---something that is special to that customer.

If we could just invite our past friends to come in and bring in some of their friends, then we wouldn’t even need to attract any new customers. Unfortunately, people sell their vehicles, move away and, quite frankly, they leave us. This is why a Fall special should be enticing enough to get our old friends back and bring in some new ones. Good Luck and look for more ways to improve employee performance and implement new profit centers in our Service departments.

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