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Bob K

selling auto repairs is alot like fishing.

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I've been thinking about the sale. Some days i have customers who wont or cant buy a wiper blade or an air filter. The next day the customer will buy anything i recommend. I just cant put my finger on it. I do however liken it to fishing. Some days the fish bite and some days they just dont. Doesn't matter what bait you use are how great your sales skills are. Some days they just wont buy. I sometimes feel like I have failed somehow those days. Then the next day i feel like a selling machine. What a roller coaster ride it can be. I would appreciate input from veteran shop owners on how to deal with the ups and downs. Thanks in advance. Bob

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Happens to the best of us. If your R.O. software can give you a breakdown of daily sales on a weekly basis, plot that and see when are your strongest sales days and weeks. I can do that for the past 10 years on my reports, and the second week of the month tends to be my best time to sell, with march april and may being my best months.

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March and April are when most lower/mid income people get a tax return cash influx, they are "rich" and buy everything. By august they are living paycheck to paycheck and need school clothes and supplies for their kids. I can't figure it out though, as soon as I think I know what to expect I get proved wrong.

 

Normally January is the slowest month, Christmas's credit card bills are coming in, heating bills are huge, seasonal workers are laid off, cold weather keeps people indoors. I always expect to lose in January, we paint the lifts and wash the floors. Last year we had our biggest month ever - in January. Go figure.

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March and April are when most lower/mid income people get a tax return cash influx, they are "rich" and buy everything. By august they are living paycheck to paycheck and need school clothes and supplies for their kids. I can't figure it out though, as soon as I think I know what to expect I get proved wrong.

Normally January is the slowest month, Christmas's credit card bills are coming in, heating bills are huge, seasonal workers are laid off, cold weather keeps people indoors. I always expect to lose in January, we paint the lifts and wash the floors. Last year we had our biggest month ever - in January. Go figure.

This business is very unpredictable. The biggest month we ever had by a large margin was a February which is the shortest month business days wise.

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I had been going through the same up and down cycle like you described. I finally fixed my problem quite by accident. Newsletters! I had gotten a great deal on a minolta biz hub printer and I have always wanted to send out newsletters, so last September we started to send them out to our customers who had been in for any type of repair or service in the last 18 months. We do absolutly no advertising in it. All of a sudden the recommendations we were making were starting to come back and get done . Since September our sales are up 47% , our gp is up 5%, our car count is up 20%. We produce ,print it , tab it and fold it all in house. My or is $47.00/$1.00 and It cost me about $450.00 a month . We use an 11.5 x 17 sheet of paper folded in half so it is a 4 page newsletter. Email me your address and I'll send you one .

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I've been thinking about the sale. Some days i have customers who wont or cant buy a wiper blade or an air filter. The next day the customer will buy anything i recommend. I just cant put my finger on it. I do however liken it to fishing. Some days the fish bite and some days they just dont. Doesn't matter what bait you use are how great your sales skills are. Some days they just wont buy. I sometimes feel like I have failed somehow those days. Then the next day i feel like a selling machine. What a roller coaster ride it can be. I would appreciate input from veteran shop owners on how to deal with the ups and downs. Thanks in advance. Bob

As with fishing, if you don't throw the bait ya can't catch a thing. And, yes... sometimes you've got the right bait, and it might be the right time to fish, but a lot of times it just doesn't matter. If you throw too many hooks out, the lines get tangled, and you still end up with nothing. My old saying, "Move like a tortoise...rather than the rabbit.... the tortoise will win in the end. Besides, they live a long time." A slow a steady pace in business will win over the occasional poor fishing. Just keep baiting the hook and tossing it out there.

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I've been doing this for 26 years. For the first 20, it was pretty predictable. Jan-Mar really depended on the weather. The colder is was the busier we were. The end of March and into April would be slow till after tax time. I have always dealt with a wealthier / established clientele, so I never really understood that one. As soon as the weather warmed up we were slammed till August when everyone went away on vacation. We would have a lot of missed appointments in September until everyone adjusted to the their kids new school schedules. As soon as the weather got cold, we would get slammed again.

 

The last 6 years, there has been no rhyme, reason, or pattern. Some of our slower months in the past, have become better months recently. A roller coaster it has been for some time.

 

Scott

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I had been going through the same up and down cycle like you described. I finally fixed my problem quite by accident. Newsletters! I had gotten a great deal on a minolta biz hub printer and I have always wanted to send out newsletters, so last September we started to send them out to our customers who had been in for any type of repair or service in the last 18 months. We do absolutly no advertising in it. All of a sudden the recommendations we were making were starting to come back and get done . Since September our sales are up 47% , our gp is up 5%, our car count is up 20%. We produce ,print it , tab it and fold it all in house. My or is $47.00/$1.00 and It cost me about $450.00 a month . We use an 11.5 x 17 sheet of paper folded in half so it is a 4 page newsletter. Email me your address and I'll send you one .

 

 

I believe Andre touches upon something that is meant to even out the edges of the roller coaster we call monthly car count which is MARKETING. Your marketing plan (of attack) has to be very concise and constantly working in order for you to keep bringing those customers in. All of your marketing has to have a strong branding message and has to be in front of your ideal customers (and your current customer base) constantly. Web presence, direct mail, post cards, newsletters, etc etc is all included in this. I'll let ya'll know how it pans out as I plan on putting together some strong marketing campaigns going into the fall and winter months when I normally get hit with less business.

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