Marketers estimate it costs 50-80 percent more to gain a new customer than to bring a current one back for additional sales. Plus, it's always easier to sell a satisfied present customer. With this in mind, I created the ``Janet Tire Safety Club'' several years ago at my former dealership in Lockhaven, Pa. Organizing a tire safety club can accomplish two worthwhile objectives at low cost: It brings back customers time after time and places your company's name on virtually every automobile you service.
Customers come back because you're providing free services they need and want. We gave away free flat repair, tire rotation, front-end alignment inspection and tire inspection. Offer as many free services as you wish—but there should be at least four.
Whatever services you offer should be given away with the idea of selling any components when they are legitimately needed. We issued a membership card for customers to carry and present when having their cars serviced. You can't do much better than getting customers to carry around your company's name and address in their pocket or purse.
A major benefit of having a tire safety club is the tremendous amount of free advertising it can provide your dealership. This results primarily from the safety club sticker, made of the same material car dealerships use to display their names on the back of the vehicles they sell. It's reflective and can be seen by thousands of motorists daily.
Customers were offered membership in the club at the time they made a purchase. We simply asked them whether they'd like to join the company's tire safety club and receive free services just for carrying the membership card and displaying the club's sticker.
We then would ask where on their automobile they'd prefer the sticker to be placed. Usually, we suggested it be applied over the car dealership's sticker, which offered little benefit to the customer, while ours held the prospect of hundreds of dollars worth of free services.
Here are some additional suggestions for organizing your own safety club:
Use the reverse side of the membership card to promote your company's products and services or to state its warranty policies.
If a customer requests additional club stickers—provide them. Over the years, our company's stickers wound up on bicycles, wagons, windows and even shirts—offering a lot of additional free advertising.
Never provide the same free services without seeing the club sticker on the car.
If a customer refuses to allow the tire safety club sticker to be applied to his vehicle, don't insist on doing so.
The tire safety club concept is an on-going promotion that can be expanded in many ways. Some of the ways we tried were:
Awarding prizes to the drivers of vehicles seen displaying the club sticker; and
Offering club members additional discounts, thereby adding the element of exclusivity, which is a proven sales motivator.
Use imagination in organizing a tire safety club. Take credit for what you're giving away and do it in a manner that gains you repeat business and free advertising.
Mr. Janet is president of Bob Janet Marketing & Retail Consulting in Matthews, N.C.