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What is your solution for a drop in business in the late fall/winter months?


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We here in the colder areas tend to see a drop off during the winter months when it comes to car counts. I wanted to get a discussion going on how do you stave off the drop in business? What marketing strategies do you employ? I think it is absolutely prudent to think about these things months in advanced if not earlier before its too late for you to do anything.

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Projects. We line up project cars to work on during the winter months. A restoration can be worked on in the fab shop or the dyno bay. Sometimes we'll have an extra enclosed trailer sitting out back with a car waiting to be worked on during the winter.

 

We also take a deep breath and enjoy the not so frantic pace. We know that November thru snow melt is slower, and we really enjoy the slower pace. But it all depends on the weather. The alignment rack keeps a good pace in winter, especially an icy or snowy winter; we like pot holes and ditches.

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Marketing alignments for pot hole and wheel repair is a good idea. I just purchased a Hunter Hawk Eye Elite which is a game changer.

 

I have had my fill of project cars over the years. I just want to keep the maintenance and repair work rolling and IMHO that is how you stay profitable. To stay "busy" project cars can work but I want to make $$$$ :lol::ph34r:B):)

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  • 2 weeks later...

mspec,

 

You're in a populated area and...

 

You are surrounded by dealerships that do not have very good reviews,

which puts your shop in a great position to pick up all those customers

that are dissatisfied.

 

Cars still need oil services, maintenance and repair work, in the winter.

Those vehicles are going to be in somebody's shop.

 

I'm just curious, why do you think business will be falling off for your shop?

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mspec,

 

You're in a populated area and...

 

You are surrounded by dealerships that do not have very good reviews,

which puts your shop in a great position to pick up all those customers

that are dissatisfied.

 

Cars still need oil services, maintenance and repair work, in the winter.

Those vehicles are going to be in somebody's shop.

 

I'm just curious, why do you think business will be falling off for your shop?

 

I think its more of the fear that i have. I have spent years not understanding how to run my business and it wasn't until about a year ago that I started truly educating myself and seeking help.

 

Comparatively speaking winter months are tougher to work through due to the weather, shorter days etc. We don't completely die off during the winter of course but also with Christmas and the after affects it always seems December

and January are the most anemic months. I just want to do everything I can to counteract that potential problem.

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I agree that weather can have an affect when the city is shut down,

as a result of snow.

But that's usually only a temporary couple of days here and there.

Once the streets are clear, it's business as usual.

Will some people hold off until February? Yes. But then, your February

should more than make up for the few that didn't come in, during the

previous month.

What that means is... if you keep your eye on one of the most important

numbers, which is growing your number of loyal customers...

They will still be driving back and forth to work, and wherever else they go,

which means they are still going to be due for oil changes, scheduled

maintenance, etc.

In addition to that, winter months are hard on many of the vehicle systems.

Batteries, belts, alignments, etc. They all need attention, which creates

an ongoing stream of opportunity for you.

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This is why I operate lean. Winter is slow here as well (actually last winter was super busy, but not the norm). I budget my business as if every month is December.

 

Winter is going to generate the dirty work that needs done, brake lines, fuel lines, starters etc... Make sure every car gets a full inspection to catch any problems that will strand a customer again.

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I wish winter would slow down, For us we have winterizations and auto starts up until it hits -20 then once -20 is here its all power steering lines, pumps belts and cars that wont start until end of February. We are in the middle of our slow time with school starting soon and everyone making last minute trips and going to the fair there isn't a lot of money to spend on your vehicle. here in about 2 weeks though we are going to be sleeping at the shop.

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Today's facebook post:

 

"Time is ticking by for the Minnesota "Car Season", and if you have your Hot Rod, Street Rod, Sunday Cruiser or Weekend Warrior out and still want that last little upgrade or have had a small driving issue over the summer you want fixed, NOW is the time to give Paradigm a Call. We can get your Toy in, upgraded, fixed or improved and back on the road to enjoy the upcoming Fall Cruises."

 

Besides the general automotive side, this will fill in the schedule till snow falls, and then some.

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Although this isn't a specific answer to your question, I thought it might be of interest. Here's one of my favorite marketing strategies, and it's so simple, it's almost silly to even admit. When we think about marketing, advvertising, and promotional efforts, we tend to think in terms that are grandios. Anything on a large scale...so that if you reach 5,000 peopla, maybe 10 more will come through your door, right?

 

When I find myself with a few minutes to kill, and I want to feel good about the use of my time, I get in front of Google, and pick a competitor. You know whop I'm talking about, right? The shop/dealership not too far from your place that's been there 100 years, gives really horrible service, doesn't seem to care about their customers? Anyhow...pick one, the bigger the better.

 

Now start searching for reviews. Of course, you can probably avoid the ones posted on their own site, but if you do a handful or searches for "That" company, and the reviews from others in the community, you are absolutely going to find more than one site where there are some negative reviews posted about them.

 

Read them all, and pay close attention to the categorical nature of the report. Were they overpriced? Underhanded? Unfair in their practice? Did they keep the customer's car too long? Break their promise on the deadline for repair? Not take care of the original concern? You know what I mean.

 

I have a knack for reading these reviews, and then tracking down the person who left it, and reaching out to them. If you're lucky enoug to see their whole name, like on some review sites, then you're in business. Even if not, sometimes B. Worchinski really IS the BRYAN Worchinski who's facebook page you found with a simple search.

 

Write Bryan a simple email, apologizing to him on behalf of honest/fair-minded mechanics everywhere. Tell him you recently read about his rotten experience at XYZ Auto, and it compelled you to reach out to him. Tell him you want him to KNOW that not all mechanics are like that. Tell him there are places.....just like yours, that really do care about taking better care of him, than what you read, and then INVITE him to your shop.

 

Start by saying you just want to shake his hand, and have the opportunity to give him one of your cards....then add that you're even willing to give him a free, basic oil change, just for the privilege of meeting him.

 

Tell Bryan that the way it's been for him in the past, well...it just DOESN'T have to be like that.

 

Ok, some of you may think I'm crazy, but I've personally reached out to a doen or more unsatisfied customers from OTHER shops in the same week before, and added 75% of them to my car count, and gotten the chance to cnvert them into loyal customers of my own.

 

So, it's not 5,000 prospects, it may only be 10. But what if you got 5 of them to come in? What if 3 of them turned out to be great customers?

 

Now, that's guerilla marketing.

 

Just one man's crazy idea.

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I have thought of this before however how do you prevent getting involved with a bad customer? I am assuming of course you are filtering as well as you can by the reviews they leave however I am thinking there still may be something things you cant avoid like the customer that no one can make happy type.

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I have thought of this before however how do you prevent getting involved with a bad customer? I am assuming of course you are filtering as well as you can by the reviews they leave however I am thinking there still may be something things you cant avoid like the customer that no one can make happy type.

 

Of course. This is just one simple activity that may be something you can add toward finding new customers, and you have to use your head. On sites where the "reviewer" has an actual profile, you can click their name and briefly skim over the reviews they've left for other businesses. If all of them are whiny, complaining, and sometimes downright unfair....sometimes you're easily able to tell that maybe this is someone you want to avoid.

 

The real power comes from the absolute ease of execution, and the willngness for some of those "hurt" by your competition, to give you a shot.

 

NO fortunes were ever made when the economy was booming. When there's a downturn, whether it's an annual cycle or otherwise, SOMEONE is getting the business. Why shouldn't it be YOU?

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We encourage our employees to take vacations during the slower months. Also property & equipment maintenance are easier to do when there are less dollars in the service bays (not going to paint the office when there's money to be made). Training & ase testing is best done at this time. Reviewing profit centers (or those that are not)and adding on new service items we would like to offer. Get out and network,ie chamber of commerce, business groups, local charities etc. Oh yea and shovel the snow!!!

Edited by slowtech
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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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