For most auto repair shop owners, the holiday season is challenging. Car count dwindles as customers prioritize shopping and feasting over maintenance and repair services. Travelers tend to be impatient and our service advisor becomes the bearer of bad news when the vehicle they want to drive several hundred miles to visit family is proven unsafe without necessary repairs.
So – what’s a shop owner to do? The best plan of action is to be proactive. Don’t wait until December to prepare for the holiday season. Whether it’s slowing car count or too many cars wanting service ASAP, planning ahead can make what historically may be your worst season into your best. Here are some tips to make the holiday season great for your shop:
Give yourself the gift of profit this holiday season. To find it, join one of ATI’s shop owner events near you. Register today at atievent.com.
1. Marketing Calendar/Plan
When sales are down, most shops pull back on expenses and marketing often takes the biggest hit. This is the WRONG approach. Now is the time to budget significantly more time (and yes, money) toward marketing and advertising. This includes social media as well as actively marketing to your existing database of customers. How about a FREE inspection for those planning to travel for the holidays? Set the offer to be by appointment only and schedule them for your slowest days. Make the offer expire a week BEFORE the holiday. This is just one idea that can boost car count and help control the flow of cars coming in with a tight deadline.
2. Holiday Cards
Sending out holiday cards to your customers is a great way to connect – but putting a $25 shop gift card in them will guarantee a great ROI on the effort. TIP – make the gift cards thick enough they can feel them through the envelope!
3. Charitable/Volunteer Team Project
Participation in community programs is a great way to build goodwill and gives people a reason to visit that shop that they may not have been in before. Offering to be a drop-off point for Toys For Tots or a program like Angel Tree encourages visitors and gives your customers and employees an opportunity to participate.
4. Get Your Inventory Up to Date
When was the last time you did an inventory count? Make sure you have all the fluids and oil filters needed for quick turn-around of basic maintenance. This includes coolant and brake fluid – with winter temperatures and driving conditions, no vehicle should be leaving the shop without test strips being completed and the customer advised of their condition.
5. Maximize Tires
None of us want to keep a massive inventory of tires on hand. Talk to your tire supplier about what options they can provide to help. If you have space and your supplier will honor a 30-60 day return, increase your inventory for those travelers that absolutely must have tires the same day.
The holidays should be joyful for everyone in the shop, including you. If you dread the holiday season drop each year, ATI is here to help you learn how to address those seasonal highs and lows so your shop can be profitable all year round…
To learn more sales and marketing tips, join one of our shop owner events at atievent.com.