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How would you approach introducing your business to other businesses?


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Channeling some more knowledge from the gurus, wanted your take on this guys.

 

Last year we moved to our new location which is about a mile or so from our old location in the neighborhood over. I am located in New York City so being one neighborhood away is almost like being another town over for those who don't live in a big metro area. Anyway I have not really done a great job in making our presence known in the area. Even at my old shop we didn't proactively go out and meet other local businesses and introduce ourselves.

 

I've recently ramped up our "brand recognition" efforts by getting shirts and polos printed up with our logo embroidered. I know probably baby steps for you most of you guys but its little thing we are catching up on now! I've also recently hired a new tech whom is short on common sense but is a wiz at being a theory mechanic and is really a step ahead on the customer service/manners department. Hes from the south so his manners are a breath of fresh air and I have gotten more comments about how much they like my new guy in 2 months than my guys who have been with me for 5+ years!

 

I am basically thinking about taking my new tech on a mini campaign to hand out cards and introduce ourselves with the local business (restaurants, bakeries, cleaners, deli, nail salons, etc). I was also thinking of introducing ourselves with some of the shops in the area. We are German car specialists with a full service shop with tire and alignment capabilities. A lot of shops could potentially be great sources of referrals or farmed out business as a lot of shops don't have alignment machines and the ability to really work on BMW/Mercedes/Audi etc.

 

My question to you folks is what do you think is best way to approach these businesses? Should I send a specific message to them? Do I do more than just give them a few cards? Do I pitch an incentive program?

 

What has worked for you guys?

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Take the tech and knock on doors and nitro dunce yourselves ain't a bad idea!

 

I tell ya, my new tech is not THAT mechanically inclined however he is very book smart and gosh the manners on this kid! He makes every customer feel great and he always thanks them for their business and comes off as very genuine. He also says sir and ma'am like he means it! I'm hoping by making my rounds i can instill some good vibes in the community which I think will go a long way. Immediate results are probably too bold to expect however I think it should plant the seed for the future.

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We are in a small southern town where everyone knows each other :) So glad I moved away from NY state. Anyway :) I have sent my service writer out around the community to hand out cards. You would be amazed at the number of business that will allow you to place a business card holder on their counter to advertize for them. I also have a bulletin board right inside my front door that says we support local businesses and its full of cards. Networking with other local businesses is a great way to get more business and as a small business owner I am always interested in "trading" services ;)

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I'm a german auto specialty shop as well and we are currently moving. I have been talking to the local businesses around my new building and letting people know who we are and what we do.

It sounds crazy, but a box of donuts does WONDERS for this. I learned this trick from another shop owner in the area. He dedicated 2 hours a week for 1 year to going to all the local businesses and talking to them, dropping off a box of donuts and some business cards. You never know who you will catch and how they will react, but theres always SOMEONE who will eat a few donuts and its a conversation piece. They get asked who brought those donuts and they say "Oh, the nicest guy just swung by with him, hes got a cool German auto shop just around the corner, I never even knew it was there! My mom has a Bimmer, she should check em out!"

Out of 2-3 stops, you will get a customer, and they will send a friend... German car customers are usually loyal to their repair facility, so it takes some massaging to get them converted, but get them and keep them and they will all flock to you.

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I used to go to Sam's club type of store and buy those round tubs of Twizzlers red licorice in individual clear wraps and put my company logo on the outside of the box. I think there was something like 100 or 150 in a package and when I dropped that tub off at various places I wanted to advertise with, with a stack of my business cards they knew who brought it in. About once a month I would make the rounds with the tubs and it got to be that the places I would stop in to looked forward to my visit. I also used to keep a open tub on the customer write up desk and most everyone that came in would grab some of those Twizzlers. It was a reasonable cost advertisement that folks remembered. A tub to the NAPA store might get you a lot more work than a thousand dollars of radio advertisement.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         13 comments
      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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