AKRON (Aug. 30, 2004) — The best time for tire dealers to effectively promote their automotive services is always when the bays are already full.
Nothing breeds success like success and service sales people don't feel very successful when the bays are empty.
There's also a vital corollary to this business axiom: Don't wait until the bays are empty to promote your service business. To the contrary, promotion is a year-round job and obligation. For some tire dealers and service shop operators, this promotional task has to begin somewhere.
But once your promotions are rolling, don't stop—even if the service department's hopping with work.
Regular Tire Business readers know that my work keeps me crisscrossing the country. In fact, I can hear traffic on Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Gowanus Expressway roaring by as I write this column.
Those Johnny Cash lyrics, “I've been everywhere there is,” partially describe summertime travel for me. I was way up in Calgary, Alberta, and down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I was in Quakertown, Pa., and Hudson, Ohio. I was in Columbia, S.C., and Greensboro, N.C. Then I traveled up to Ithaca, N.Y., and back over to Brooklyn.
At each of those stops, the sharper tire dealers and service shop operators I met were all preaching the same message: It's infinitely easier to keep the bays busy when you promote while they're full. This takes concentration and dedication, but it appears to be well worth the effort. After all, your confidence is never higher, your outlook is never brighter and your attitude is never more positive—especially with the customers—as it is when the service department's humming with work.
The challenge is to avoid slacking off on promotion simply because the bays are busy. Savvy owners and managers agree that a surge of success can breed complacency.
When your business is extremely busy, memories of the lean times and slow days tend to fade. The more those memories lapse, the easier it is for service personnel to lose interest in keeping the bays full.
It's only human for everyone to become engrossed in getting all the jobs done correctly and on time—the sense of making hay while the sun shines. An excellent example are the shops in the southern U.S. working 12-hour days trying to keep up with air conditioning and cooling system repairs during the hottest months of the year.
Preparing the next service promotion or maintenance reminder mailing seems like the lowest of low priorities when business is booming. But if you can count on anything in this business, it's the fact that slack times occur. The better bosses all emphasize that the more consistently they promote their service departments, the less cyclical the business is. Simply put, that means fewer boom-and-bust periods.
Owners and managers have given me some insightful observations about promoting while they were still busy. I alluded to one of them earlier and that's called a confident, winning attitude. The better your attitude, the more likely you are to tackle and complete the often-dreaded task of creating new promotions or completing an important maintenance-reminder mailing.
For some folks, that may entail a task as tedious as printing and affixing address labels. But they get it done because they're in the right frame of mind to do it!
The second observation is that owners and managers are much less likely to give the proverbial store away when they're creating promotions, ads and mailers while they're busy. Promoting after it's too late—when the bays are already empty—often prompts the boss to offer overly aggressive discounts and/or giveaways because he or she is so anxious to boost traffic through the bays.
Several guys admitted doing this and emphasized they lived to regret those excessive discounts. If they had done the chore in a better frame of mind, they said, they would have never given such discounts.
The last observation is that it takes confidence to emphasize value and quality work over low prices in your promotions and advertisements. Once again, busy bays breed that kind of confidence.
Unless you're confident of your dealership's or service shop's capabilities, you're much less likely to communicate those things to the community. Instead, you'll take the low road of boasting big discounts.