When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book
Recently I had an overheating vehicle…on the weekend! I needed it to be in perfect working order by Monday morning so…I debated taking it to the corner chain store or to a quick lube equally close by. The quick lube won.
The young men there quickly took a look under the hood and then the equally fast diagnosis began.
“You need a new radiator!” said one.
“You need a new water pump!” declared another.
After much debate a manager returned from lunch and felt the hoses. It was a hose. It had a small slit-like crack underneath. The young men didn’t even feel the hoses and even I know that is the first thing to look at.
He ordered the hose…but it took three tries to get the correct hose delivered from an Advanced Auto Parts store. It also took three hours to replace the hose and give my radiator a flush (or fluid exchange for those of you out west!). I paid my bill and when I got home was amazed at how dirty the guys left my hood. I took it to a car wash immediately.
A few days later I had a rather longer than normal drive to another state and thought I detected a kind of burning smell. After my meeting I drove back to the quick lube. Again…they gathered around and looked under the hood whispering and gesturing and finally said that the hose had not been clamped properly and the cap had not been put on correctly either. It took about 45 minutes and I was given every assurance that all was well but they did ask me to drop by again in a few days so they could take another look…just to be sure. I did and all was declared well!
I had to take my car through the car wash again and wipe down my credit card that was extremely greasy. Yuck.
The moral of this story is…even the most eager to please, enthusiastic quick lube employees (including the manager) will never be as good at diagnosing and repairing even the simplest of issues as a certified technician.
My suggestion to all of you…SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! To be certified takes work, dedication and a strong desire to be the best! You are the BEST! Wear it proudly!
News Works Marketing
The speed and efficiency of programmatic advertising is valuable, but it should always be used in conjunction with creativity to engage consumers, writes Denise Colella. “Overreliance on performance metrics at the expense of creativity is a dangerous practice, yet it’s easy to do,” she writes.
(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part 4 Continued)
The advantages of direct mail are many…here are just a few!
- It is targeted – You decide who it goes to.
- It is measureable – You know who it went to and you can tell who responded to it right down to the individual.
- It is scalable – You can mail as few or as many as you like. If using bulk mail to get the best rate you do need a minimum of 200 pieces.
- It is expected – Consumers expect mail six days a week. They don’t have to order it, subscribe to it or drive out to get it.
- It is appreciated – USPS did a recent study that showed over 60% of consumers would prefer getting offers by mail than by any other method.
- It is non-intrusive – It doesn’t pop up in an article, appear in their social media viewing and it doesn’t show up in their inbox to be deleted in seconds. It comes and gets viewed regularly.
- Now more than ever it captures attention because many bills, etc., are received online rather than in the mailbox.
- Consumers can put it aside to look at later…unlike an email, social media, etc. You only get a quick moment and setting it aside for later is not an option with those venues.
You want consumers to spend time with your mail piece so make it worth their while. A recipient spends 213 seconds with a mail piece. You have three seconds to draw interest to your piece. You have 30 seconds to engage and 180 seconds to get it looked at thoroughly and generate a response.
- Make it fun!
- Add color and graphics
- Make it sizzle!
- Entertain for brand awareness!
- Remember…it isn’t always, sell, sell, and sell!! (but do include an offer)
A short reminder…always live up to your marketing campaign no matter what method you use. A lot of times shops say they are the best, the friendliest, the most high tech, etc…then they get a consumer to try them once. When that shop fails to live up to that marketing campaign…they seldom get a second chance.
I hope these “Marketing Essentials of Highly Successful Shop Owners” has been helpful. They were a brief overview of each type of marketing that most shop owners (and other small businesses use). If you need more in-depth information on one or all, just let me know!
News Works Marketing
It’s important to select the right marketing channels and to recognize the enduring power of print media to produce an effective marketing campaign, experts advise. Also, remember that it takes commitment to build a following through paid advertising. The Guardian (London)
(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Four)
Technology is great but too often tech companies leave out the human factor…to them it is data-to-data instead of a person to another person. They still call it marketing…but is it really? Mostly it is a quick, cheap “touch” and so it is given very little thought. If one had to pay direct mail prices to send it…they probably would scrutinize it before pushing it out! I get more complaints from my customers about the tech companies they use than about anything else. They say their customers complain to them about receiving too much…34 or more touches a month. Whatever we do…we don’t want to be annoying. I appreciate the tech companies’ zeal and enthusiasm but too much of a good thing is still…too much! I always suggest that my customer ask the tech company to cut back on how much they push out.
Direct mail still delivers the strongest ROI for business to consumer. If you are trying to find new customers, it can be done very inexpensively. If you are keeping in touch with your current customers it works very well.
- Direct mail delivers the strongest ROI for Business to Consumer acquisition of customers (31% for direct mail compared to 16% for email) as well as for retention of customers (37% for direct mail compared to 29% for email).
- 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it’s delivered and 77% sort through it immediately.
- 65% of surveyed online Americans say they have made a purchase in response to messages received via direct mail.
- For every $1 invested in direct (non-catalog) mail expenditures, the average return on investment is $15.40.
The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) uses $12 in revenue for every $1 spent to show you can have over 1200% ROI. This is based on the lifetime value of your customer. For example, if you spend $1000 on a direct mail campaign you may not see $12,000 worth of immediate business but over the lifetime of the customer you could reasonably expect to see a 12x return on investment.
No other type of advertising gives a small business that level of return.
Next month we will continue with more stats and reasons to use direct mail! I promised to keep my Help Me Rhonda’s short and sweet so I will stop here for this month!
Never hesitate to contact me with comments or questions!
News Works Marketing
“Email addresses are not data. Each represents a real person. Treat them accordingly!”
(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Three)
This is part three in answer to a reader who is frustrated that many of his marketing strategies aren’t working like he thought it would! Today’s post is about email marketing!
I love email! It is my favorite form of communication. I like it because it is easy, I don’t have to play “phone tag” with my customers and writing happens to be my main vocation.
However…as a consumer nothing annoys me more than the “overzealous” emailer. I purchase my printer toner at Best Buy. In December, they decided, for some reason, to start emailing every single day. They never stopped. They are on my list to “unsubscribe.” Web MD seemed like a great business for me to subscribe to. When they started sending me no less than 20 emails each and every Saturday…way too many through the week and on Sunday, I unsubscribed! Certain LinkedIn persons decided I needed to hear what they had to say all weekend long and in the evenings and on holidays especially…I dropped them.
The main problem with email marketing is that it is sooooooo easy businesses forget that the email address represents a real human being and it isn’t just “data”. Respect that person’s time. Don’t be responsible for their “email fatigue.”
Always ask yourself this question before you send out email marketing…if I had to pay for this service like I do direct mail…would I send it? Treat it like you would direct mail…always respect your readers!
Some suggested rules of email marketing:
- – Address your readers’ concerns.
- – Don’t make it be a big sales push.
- – Remember it should be all about what you can do for your customer…not about how great you and your business is.
- – Experiment with the best time to send it out. I do 7:00 am on Tuesday’s because that is when my readers seem to interact with it the most. I get a great read rate using this time.
- – Always include an “unsubscribe” option…don’t force yourself on your readers as this will turn them off faster than anything.
- – I send out two “Help Me Rhonda’s” a month…one to service advisors and one to shop owners. That is all! I want my columns to be welcomed…not an intrusion on my readers’ busy time.
- – Keep it short and keep it simple. This email blast is far too long…but I wanted to answer the question I was asked.
If you have further questions about email marketing (this is just the basics) I have a lot more I can say about it so let me know and I’ll make sure you get the information. You are always welcome to call or email me and I am here to help you! Don’t hesitate!
Thanks for your time!
News Works Marketing
“Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Get stronger, faster and more powerful. Fill yourself with knowledge and empathy and an indomitable spirit, because no one else can do that for you. In the end, it’s your life, your choice and your world. Give 110%, always.” — Apolo Ohno
As I have stated so many times in my Help Me Rhonda columns…the service advisor has an enormous role in the business! You are the face of the business to your customers…you are the middleman/woman between the counter and the technicians. Everyone depends on you!
Sometimes I am sure that is a burden to you… especially when you take the brunt of the wrath of an unhappy customer who is positive that the technician messed up on their car repair/service. Through it all, stay positive. How?
• Always be polite to the customer.
• Remember… you know more about auto service/repair than the customer ever will… you are an authority on the subject!
• If the techs really did mess up, you know the best way to soothe the customer and give the tech a pep talk on doing it correctly this time!
• You have chosen this occupation … this career… because you love it! You are the very best at what you do!
• You take training classes or sign up for online service advisor blogs because you always strive to learn more in order to be more!
You are the best and you do give 110% each and every day! Be proud of who you are and what you do! It is a gift!
News Works Marketing
(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Two)
Social media marketing can be effective, but it shouldn’t be your only tactic for promoting your business, writes Sticky Branding President Jeremy Miller.
This is part two in answer to a reader who is frustrated that many of his marketing strategies aren’t working like he thought it would! Today’s post is about social media.
Many small business owners (and large business) are frustrated that “Social Media” isn’t paying off. As small business owners you may have the advantage because:
- Those who interact with your social media may actually know you and care more about your posts. They will even engage with them now and then.
- Most of you are posting your own social media and aren’t paying someone (an outside service) to do it for you!
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all the other social sites are a good way to be “social.” They aren’t necessarily a way to add dollars to your bank account. Don’t stop being social because of this…your posts can still be enjoyed by your customers.
What type of posts do my most successful shop owners share?
- Trivia about famous cars
- Actual pictures of disastrous car parts they are replacing that day
- Pictures of a staff member’s birthday party, etc.
- Pictures of unique vehicles they are working on that day
Social media posts themselves may not be making you money, however, they do keep your shop “top of mind awareness” and isn’t that a very important part of marketing?
Do you pay Facebook for your ads? If so, here is something you will want to know!
Facebook is collaborating with the Media Ratings Council and the Interactive Advertising Bureau on viewability. The social network charges only for ads actually viewed, but it defines that as any ad that appears even slightly in front of a user instead of the MRC’s standard that an ad should be 50% viewable for at least one second. The Wall Street Journal
News Works Marketing
Customer service is not a cost center. Customer service is a
competitive advantage that can make or break a business.
— Alex McClafferty, writing at Forbes
Being a service advisor is all about customer service. If you have natural empathy for your customers you have a great head start…if not it is time to look inward and then brush up on how to relate to your customers’ feelings.
We’ve all been waited on from time to time by a person who acts in one of the following ways:
• Physically they are standing across the counter from you but mentally their mind is elsewhere
• They obviously do not like their job
I saw a sign in an office the other day and it made me laugh, but really sometimes the customer can feel this way about dealing with counter staff.
If you are grouchy, irritable, or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge just for putting up with you!
They may want an additional $10 deducted from their invoice for putting up with this type of counter staff.
Sometimes it is hard to be on your best game every day…but as you usually only see your customers a few times a year…for the sake of the company you work for…always be your very best. If not, you may lose a customer forever.
News Works Marketing
(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part One)
One of my readers has been disappointed in Internet marketing and asked me to write about it. Below are some feelings he has on the subject; (I am sharing this with his permission).
“The past eight plus years has been one big internet marketing experiment for me. One internet concept after another promised great things and I feel none of it actually delivered. I paid money for a new website and was told this would generate a lot of leads for me. There have been the rare occasion when the website has been beneficial but basically for a service industry like mine, the cost of the website has not generated enough customers to make it worth the price tag. I feel people use it mostly to look up my phone number and hours of operation. It is more or less the “yellow pages” now. Of course, The Yellow Pages was pricy too and didn’t really bring me new customers either.
I post something to Facebook at least once a week and get a few likes but that is from current customers or family and friends. I tried email marketing but the report shows that my regular customers may look at it but then again, they may not. I am starting to realize that certain times of the year I get deletes more than I get viewed. Help me, Rhonda! What can I do?”
I spent time with this reader and gave him some ideas and I thought my other readers might also feel the same frustration he is. I decided to take the next few “Help Me Rhonda” articles to answer this in depth. I discussed this with my staff as well and I will share some helpful tips. If you have been a reader of mine for a long time…you know I always recommend that you “mix it up” as different people want different contact points.
I thought about my most successful customers… those who never suffer from slow times and in fact are booking out weeks in advance. They certainly do have a vast marketing mix and have some other unique concepts they do on a CONSISTENT basis. Here is the first common thread these shops do to stay at the top of their game!
These shop owners participate actively and personally in what we at News Works call, “Community Marketing”. The one common factor with all very successful shops is they are the backbone of their community by sponsoring events. If they sponsor, for example, a sports team. They don’t stop there… they are active with that team. They celebrate their successes by personally attending a few games and treating the team to ice cream or pizza or have a BBQ for them.
- They are active in their local schools. They hold art contests and give it a theme and pass out trophies.
- They have car care clinics.
- They donate a car to a needy family.
- They are involved in Toys for Tots.
You get the idea. They are well known in their community by sharing themselves. They prove they really care… not by just saying it (though they do that too and put the information in their newsletter… not in a bragging way but thanking others for their participation) but by doing. This creates a family friendly environment with free flowing information that can’t be deleted or scrolled past. It builds a business that will bring in the income you’ve been wanting. People like to do business with a business that cares!
News Works Marketing
I was driving down the interstate the other evening with a semi behind me and two on either side of me when a deer stepped out into traffic. Thankfully we all stopped in time and the other three lanes of traffic across the median did the same! The deer was safe and so were we all! Whew! The next day on Facebook a post pictured two deer checking their mailbox pulling out a letter. It was another thank you note from the auto collision shop. I had to laugh. It is all a matter of perspective.
I have customers who love the snow and ice of winter because they say it brings them much needed business during the winter…and I have those who say their business slumps during the winter because their customers don’t drive as much and don’t need service as often. Again…it is a matter of perspective. For my customers in the warmer climates all year round you would think it would be “steady as she goes” but not always.
What is the important thing here? To know your customers’ habits. I was so surprised to learn recently that Walmart depends on weather forecasts to stock their shelves!
Walmart Is Mining Weather Data to Increase Sales: 4 Weirdest Examples
People don’t like to eat berries when it’s windy
Oct 31, 2014, 1:59 pm EST | By Karl Utermohlen, InvestorPlace Writer
Walmart (WMT) is now using the weather to increase store sales.
The retailer partnered up with the Weather Co. to mine weather data that will help it determine when certain foods are more popular.
Walmart has found thousands of correlations between weather trends and the popularity of certain foods. Here are four of the weirdest ones:
• Berries are at their peak in popularity when there are low winds with temperatures below 80 degrees.
• People like to eat steak when it’s warm (but not too hot) with high winds and no rain.
• On the other hand, ground beef is more likely to be purchased with higher temperatures, low wind and sunny conditions.
• Salads are also popular with low winds and temperatures over 80 degrees!
If you experience a winter sales slump just contact me! We can help!
News Works Marketing
Everyone seems to be looking for a “deal” these days and my customers get frustrated by this just like I do! Yes…I have customers also looking for a cheaper means to market and yet they get upset when their customers look for cheaper auto repair. It seems to be an epidemic and most businesses are feeling the pain of it all.
I get many calls from my customers who tell me they recommend services that their customers refuse and they just know they are “price shopping” after the shop took their time to inspect the vehicle, then spelled it all out for the customer.
I hear this so much and I know I’ve written about it before but I’ll say it again. DON’T SPELL IT ALL OUT! Some of my shop owners have shown me an itemized list of each and every part with the cost included that they have given to their customer. That sure makes it easy for a customer to price shop, doesn’t it?
If you tell them they need a brake job and they ask how much, of course you have to tell them before they will let even you do the job. Give them the total cost, not an itemized cost. You don’t have to hand them an itemized list for them to take with them and give to other shops hoping for a lower price! Almost any shop can cut a price here or there to come in less expensive under those circumstances. They can even use poor quality parts to get the price down and the customer in many cases doesn’t even think about that!
If you are awarded the job, then you can hand them the itemized list when the job is complete. Remember, you are selling more than just parts and service…you are selling value which includes a great warranty and quality parts and certified technicians. If a customer grumbles about pricing, tell them it includes quality all the way around and parts that will last more than a few months. Sure…they can always get it cheaper somewhere or other…but in the long run they may end up paying a whole lot more because quality lasts…cheap doesn’t.
Hang in there!
News Works Marketing Group