Yesterday, went for a drive through North Jersey, was very concerned to see that independent shops are putting permanent signs with the $19.95 oil change offers, the $59 A/C recharge, and the $5 dollar flat fix. This reeks of desperation, clearly the industry is coming due for a strong correction. At my shops this month we are starting to see price resistance from the lower income segment, we are having to exert price flexibility for price discovery which we are finding to be 10% to 20% from list pricing. The mid to upper segments are still going strong.
By Joe Marconi
According to a recent survey featured in the May issue of National Oil and Lube News, 38% of the motoring public usually go to a new car dealer to have their oil changed. Second place was a quick lube and third place was the traditional auto facility.
Now, I have to admit, this survey was done by a publication dedicated to the Quick Lube industry, so I am not sure of any bias here. But it is worth taking note that the people polled were car owners from across the country. And, in spite of what we think about the new car dealers, they do want to penetrate the consumer market we took for granted for so many decades.
The point is that in today’s competitive climate we need to take a proactive approach to our business. Anyone who knows me or reads my articles and posts know I have been preaching this for some time now.
We also need to be convenient and deliver world-class service. We need trained people on the phone and on the service counter. Of course you need quality techs, training, information systems and the best equipment. But, look at your business through the eyes of your customers. That will tell you your next marketing strategy.
If I were you, I would do my own survey….find out for yourself….Who’s changing YOUR customer’s oil?
Article: Tell a mechanic to Telematics ---- Communication from customer, car, and mechanic is about to changeBy Gonzo
Tell a Mechanic to Telematic
Telematics, the latest in automotive communication. Not a communication between systems and scanners, but a communication between the car and mechanics. All without driver intervention.
For generations, when you have a problem with your car, you’d tell a mechanic. That’s all about to change as we head into the future with global positioning, drive by wire, and even more computer control in the modern car. Instead, your car will talk directly to the service center.
The mechanics will know when the car needs serviced long before the owner decides whether or not it really needs to go to the shop. With telematics, a mechanic can even watch the car’s condition in real time, which could make the search for intermittent problems a thing of the past. Of course you could call it another form of “Big Brother” watching your every move, but it’s all in the name of creating a safer and more efficient vehicle for the consumer.
The transition to a telematics system is inevitable. Change is part of progress, as they say. These new and ever changing technologies are what dictates the cars of the future. We might be driving a hybrid model, or a full electric, or perhaps a hydrogen vehicle by the time telematics is common place.
But, for me, the mechanic who services these technical wonders, it’s going to change things in a way nobody ever expected. And that’s in the initial diagnostic work. There will be a lot less effort spent on trying to sort out the problem with the car when the mechanic asks, “So, what’s wrong with your car?” Think about it, we have such a sophisticated piece of machinery operated by the average consumer who has little to no knowledge of how it actually works. When a problem arises the only indication is this little yellow light on the dash.
Then, with some sort of symptom in hand they’ll head to the repair shop. Their answers to the question of what’s wrong with their car can be far from being technically correct or even in the same ball park sometimes, which makes the mechanic’s job that much harder. The car and telematics, on the other hand, both speak “mechanic”.
For example, take these encounters at the counter, and imagine how simplified it would be by telematics telling the mechanic, instead of the driver telling the mechanic.
A lady called to tell me her computer was flashing. She told me that it would disappear and then reappear. I asked, “I’m sure you’re not talking about the little box mounted under the hood or under the dash disappearing and reappearing, are you?” Obviously not, she was talking about a light on her dash for the traction control. Rather than telling me it was the traction control light going on and off she kept insisting that it was the computer that was disappearing.
Last week it was an intermittent problem. A repair shop tried the same part three times and it still didn’t fix it. The owner of the car was wondering if I thought it could be something else.
Or, the guy who ran his truck out of gas and the repair shop told him the new pump they put in just a few months ago burnt up because he ran the tank dry. I told him that it’s virtually impossible to burn up an electric fuel pump by running the car out of gas, and that he must have a problem elsewhere. Turns out his truck has a dual tank setup and the transfer pump was faulty, but the repair shop only replaced the fuel pump, and filled the empty tank. (I seriously doubt they even know how to diagnose it.)
So where does this all lead too? Simply put, less second hand information, and less likely to have parts-swapper repair shops slapping unneeded components on a customer’s car without properly testing.
Half the battle of getting to the root of car problems is sorting through all the hearsay and gossip about what could be wrong from untrained and unskilled people, or people with a vague idea of how things work, who then mislead the consumer with some half-wit idea. Now everybody has an opinion about what’s wrong, but nobody knows how to fix it. Chances are even those free code checks at the parts stores will be a thing of the past, because the code, or problem, will have already been sent to the agency, repair shop, or dealership long before the owner has a chance to make that drive to the parts store.
If there was ever anything, that changes the automotive repair industry in a big way, for both the independent and dealership repair facilities, it’s definitely a working telematics network of professional shops across the country. I know I need to keep in mind there are still a lot of mechanics and repair shops that won’t agree. Some shops are stuck in the 20th century and see cars as mechanical machines with a few wires and a couple of computers. I’m sure there will be these type of shops around for years to come that will still fix cars with a timing lights and dwell meters. True, but as I see things shaping up, more and more mechanics are likely to be using a scanner or scope to diagnose and repair a car rather than a socket and ratchet. Let’s face it, times are changing, and so will the type of work the mechanic will be doing in the future.
Obviously, wearable items such as brake pads, timing chains, oil changes, and electrical components will all need to be serviced as they age, the big difference is how the mechanic finds out about those failures. The modern car can go a lot farther between scheduled maintenance than cars from just a decade ago, but very few people bring their cars in for periodic maintenance, and far fewer follow the recommended intervals for regular service. Telematics, will take care of that. It won’t be left up to the consumer or to a book crammed in the back of the glove box or that occasional email from the repair shop; the car will tell you when it needs to go in for service. It might even send you a text or email too!
Chances are you’ll show up at the repair shop with not much more than a vague idea of why you’re there, but the car has already talked to the mechanic. No need trying to explain things, he already knows. All you have to do is deliver it to the shop. Of course, if we’re talking about a time far into the future and you own an automatous car, the car might take care of that all by itself, too. Just think, you won’t have to try and explain things to the mechanic by reenacting the sound and motion the car made just before it acted up, or how you watched a YouTube video that you’re certain is the solution to the problem. Don’t worry technology has taken care of it all. Telematics, will tell the mechanic.
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As I've said in another thread, I've been advertising the absolute cheapest Full Synthetic oil change in town. $29.95 for a domestic/asian 5 quart synthetic LOF. No one in town can touch it. In fact, that's a pretty good price for a non synthetic oil change. As a marketing piece, it's working great.
I used to do $19.95 coupon oil changes with great success, but there was always a few people who were in it for the cheap oil and that's all. Way more upside to the program than downside, so I put up with them. We made the change to full synthetic and $29.95 at the first of the year. We had a guy in today who informed us that we had lost his business for good due to us raising the price on the coupon oil change. $29.95 was clearly out of line. He's been a customer here for 4 years, and brings us 2 cars. The ONLY work he's ever done with us is the oil change, in four friggin' years! I was heartbroken to say the least. 😀
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I was looking for some input into advertising. I have really not done any the last 25 years. We are rebranding or should I say changing directions a little. Going back to tires, brakes ,alignment and maintence. When I did it last other than the phone book we did a little newspaper. I think those have basically gone. So many options out there, I just do not want to throw a bunch of money away on the wrong advertising. Any help would surely be appreciated. Sincerely David
By Mail Shark
If you haven’t considered or utilized direct mail postcard magnets to attract new customers, now is the time to reevaluate this medium.
Over the past 9 years, I have seen first-hand how effective direct mailing a postcard magnet can be for new customer acquisition as well as customer retention. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), who is quite a credible source, also reported in their DMA Statistical Fact Book that “A postcard with a magnet attached is read at least 51.9% more often than a traditional postcard.” With that said, I cannot speak to how this study was conducted, but this directly correlates to my real-world experience mailing millions of postcard magnets for our clients over the years.
Why is now the right time to mail a postcard magnet?
Postcard magnets are effective all year round. However, now is the perfect time to capitalize on the recently released NFL schedules, which will give you a great opportunity to beat your competitors. You’ll be the first company to get your region’s favorite team schedules on the fridge of your prospective customers.
Another reason postcard magnets are so effective is this simple fact. Your target prospects may not have a broken car or need your services the exact day that you target them. Therefore, it is imperative that you are top of mind when a need arises and that’s exactly what postcard magnets accomplish. Consumers get them and intuitively put them on their fridge, keeping your brand constantly visible in their home.
There are a number of companies that offer this product so get quotes & compare services. Again, it’s the perfect is the perfect time to execute this product.
I have attached a few samples to give you a better idea of what the product can look like.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]
By Mail Shark
If you are currently sending or considering sending out direct mail by carrier route, there is one specific type of address you should be aware of called a Drop Stop AKA Drop Address.
A Drop Stop is a “locked” location where postal carriers do not deliver mail to the individual units or boxes. They “drop” the mail in a designated location for the individual complex to distribute.
Take a look at the attached. This photo is from a client of mine from years ago that wanted to test this area and mail this specific complex that we identified to be classified as a Drop Stop.
*Although the majority of Drop Addresses are apartment complexes, the vast majority of apartment complexes are NOT considered drop address apartments.
In addition to designated apartment complexes, some other types of drop addresses are some gated communities, trailer parks, etc. There are no absolute rules or policies for establishing an address as a drop delivery location. The determination of a drop delivery location is based on several factors. It may be the choice of the recipients at the address such as for gated communities or prestigious high-rise condominiums that the residents don’t wish to have their physical address information disclosed and elect instead to have their mail distributed by their building management. Where a delivery location is defined as a business delivery point such as a trailer park, the USPS may make the determination that all mail will be delivered to a central location and the responsibility for distribution to the individual recipients will be made by other than USPS personnel.
All that said, the first step is to identify if any of the addresses in your area are classified as drop addresses. From here I typically always recommend removing these from a saturation mailer. You could have a tenant that sees a special offer and simply takes all of them or someone doesn’t like an employee at your business or had a bad experience, etc, etc. and simply takes them and dumps them in the trash.
In my opinion in 99.8% of cases it makes no sense to pay for postage on pieces that may just get dropped on a table. I’m sure you would much rather have your direct mail marketing going to a physical address that you know will get delivered into the intended recipient’s mailbox.
If you have any questions regarding Drop Addresses or would like to see if there are any in your immediate area, please let me know.
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]