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When business completely disappears...


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Iv noticed over the years there are times when business/car count drops off by a huge amount all at once. Last year it was brutal in January and got worse in February. It got busier the 2nd week of March and was pretty steady the rest of the year with my best month ever in November then even topped that in December. But this year its back to the same. January came leads completely dropped out, February came and it got worse, just like last year. Now I know its just a waiting game and business will pick back up. Its not just me every shop in the area is completely empty. --- What triggers these pattern down turns? Has anyone ever figured that out? Thought?

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As far as the northern part of the country, by January most people have done what they normally do to get their vehicles ready for winter so that kind of work isn't there. In January and February the weather is lousy so people aren't traveling as much. Less miles, less work needed. Also in these 2 months Xmas bills are coming due so we're still fighting Santa Claus. The only thing that helps during this time of year is SEVERE weather that breaks cars. The other time of year we see severe slowdowns is in September during back to school time.

Edited by tyrguy
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January and February have always been a struggle. People are still paying off credit card bills from the holidays, heating bills are an issue, the weather is a problem and the overall mood of the consumer is not as positive as with other times of the years.

The only thing that seems to help somewhat is the make sure you flood your customers with service reminders and recommended repairs during this time and get on the phone and call people who have not done the work you have recommended.  Also, budget for the slow down to ride out those months.

 

 

 

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I agree with Joe Marconi and Tyrguy for what causes the slow done. January and February has always been very slow months for us also.  I send monthly newsletters to my customers and I will have a coupon insert for oil changes and other services. Any customer who hasn't been in over 6 months, we send them a oversize postcard with a $25 coupon good for any repairs and services. And of course we check and double check for other repairs and services needed when the car is on the lift and send then a picture and video of the problem. What had also helped us at times is we will post something on Facebook stating why service / maintenance is important and we will boost it for $10. We had people call us after seeing the post, ask questions, and we got them to make a appointment. And we currently have a mailer going out in the mail to a new customer list. My thought has always been to try something to get the phone to ring, than it is to wonder why the phone isn't ringing and do nothing about it. The person who received our newsletter or mailer in the mail may not respond, but that newsletter / mailer may sit on the kitchen or dinning room table for a couple weeks, and they may look at it again and think," I do need to get my car in for a service". And it does happen. Why? Because I have done the same thing. But there will be times no matter what you do, the phone just doesn't ring.

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  • 2 months later...

Have you ever called your own phone just to make sure it's working? I laugh because even the robo calling telemarketers dont call during those times. Its erie. 

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YEP.  I've always attributed it to the COLD weather around here (MI) and Holiday Bills.  Thank God tax refunds start coming in early March!  Always seems like a good time for employees who can to use some vacation time and go somewhere warm!

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I think "daves auto service" said it best. Overall, it's about being consistent. If it's newsletters, postcards, facebook - doesn't matter. Smart shops will do them all! But the key is being consistent. I agree, there are times when nothing makes the phone ring - but you can pretty much plan for those times (like Jan/Feb)

Besides, marketing and advertising isn't an expense if it returns as much as what it costs you. Yes, even if you spend $200 on a promo and only get $400 in revenues, it's better than doing nothing. 

Hope this helps!

Matthew
"The Car Count Fixer"

Get Car Count Help at YouTube.com/CarCountHackers
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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

    • By Joe Marconi in Joe's Blog
         5
      Typically, when productivity suffers, the shop owner or manager directs their attention to the technicians. Are they doing all they can do to maintain high billable hours? Are they as efficient as they can be?  Is there time being wasted throughout the technician’s day? 
      All these reasons factor into production problems, but before we point fingers at the technicians, let’s consider a few other factors.
      Are estimates being written properly? Are labor testing and inspections being billed out correctly? Are you charging enough for testing and inspecting, especially for highly specialized electrical, on-board computer issues, and other complex drivability work?  Is there a clear workflow process everyone follows that details every step from the write-up to vehicle delivery? Do you track comebacks, and is that affecting production?  Is the shop layout not conducive to high production? For example, is it unorganized, where shop tools, technical information, and equipment are not easily accessible to every technician?  Are you charging the correct labor rate and allowing for variables such as rust, vehicle age, and the fact that most labor guides are wrong? Also, is there effective communication between the tech and the service advisor to ensure that extra labor time is accounted for and billed to the customer? These are a few of the top reasons for low productivity problems. There are others, but the main point is to look at the entire operation. Productivity is a team effort.  Blaming the techs or other staff members does not get to the root cause in most cases.
      Maintaining adequate production levels is the responsibility of management to create the processes that will lead to high production while holding everyone accountable. 
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