Sales Slow? Advertise Fast

By Greg Sands

This is typ­i­cal­ly the time of year when busi­ness is slow, sales are down and you’re look­ing care­ful­ly at your expens­es, con­sid­er­ing what costs you can cut. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, adver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing expen­di­tures often end up on the chop­ping block, even though those are the items you can least afford to cut when sales dwin­dle.

In fact, I would argue that you’d be bet­ter off spend­ing more on adver­tis­ing dur­ing the slow­er months.

Win­ter is a great time to pick up mar­ket share: If you’re aggres­sive dur­ing a peri­od when nobody else is, your ads will stand out in the mail­box. The aver­age con­sumer will vis­it an auto­mo­tive repair shop 1.5 to two times a year. Now, we don’t know if those vis­its will occur in July or Feb­ru­ary, but if you adver­tise con­sis­tent­ly, you have a bet­ter shot of pick­ing up that cus­tomer. Even if they don’t imme­di­ate­ly require a repair, those cus­tomers are more like­ly to think of you when their cars break down or need main­te­nance. And don’t for­get, new house­holds are mov­ing into your mar­ket on a reg­u­lar basis, so if you fail to adver­tise, you risk los­ing those poten­tial cus­tomers to your com­peti­tors.

Slow months pro­vide the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­mote new ser­vices. Every year, our shops devel­op new, unique ben­e­fits that sep­a­rate us from the com­pe­ti­tion. For exam­ple, last year, we launched an indus­try-lead­ing war­ran­ty pro­gram. This year, we’ve decid­ed to open all of our shops on Sun­days to pro­vide even more options and con­ve­nience for our cus­tomers. We inten­tion­al­ly launch these types of ben­e­fits in Feb­ru­ary, so we have a full month to work out the bugs before our busi­ness picks up in March.

Less pres­sure leads to more cre­ativ­i­ty. Face it: Dur­ing the busy spring and sum­mer months you often have to adver­tise spe­cials for the ser­vices that are in most demand, such as air-con­di­tion­ing repairs or oil changes. But the slow months offer a chance to exper­i­ment and adver­tise less­er-uti­lized ser­vices. If you’re not sell­ing a lot of align­ment jobs, you might con­sid­er offer­ing a dis­count off align­ment ser­vice to lure cus­tomers.

Keep in mind that your adver­tis­ing efforts dur­ing this time may not yield imme­di­ate results. But some­one who sees your ad in Feb­ru­ary may return for a brake job in May. Sim­ply put, you need to be build­ing cus­tomer base year-round.

Greg Sands owns and oper­ates more than 30 auto repair shops in four states and serves as founder and CEO of Mudlick Mail. Read the full arti­cle here.

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