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.