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Published on May 22, 2006

Mail Call, May 22

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Opinion

New thinking needed


I enjoy reading Dan Marinucci's column in every edition of Tire Business and agree with him on most issues.


His article in the May 8 issue on the idea of promoting required maintenance services to customers to help relieve slow business times reminds me of some of the phone calls I have had from fellow shop owners this year in my area.


Many have complained about sales being down, and I will agree that warmer winters do slow sales down some. However, there are a few who have had an increase in sales as I have had.


My shop consistently watches for the maintenance schedules that are recommended for our customers' cars. Customers appreciate us reminding them of these recommended services, and in most cases they let us perform them.


Performing brake, power steering, automatic transmission and fuel injector flushes also helps.


In today's climate, just repairing cars is not enough to bring the customer to your door. In my opinion you have to offer the entire package to attract new customers and retain your regular ones.


What I mean about the entire package is this: Your facility inside and out must be inviting to your customers (especially women customers); your counter people must be dressed in a professionally looking uniform; and all techs should be in uniform.


You should be mailing new customers first-time customer thank-you letters as well as thank-you cards/letters to your regular customers after a certain number of visits. And you should be reminding your repeat customers when to return for their vehicles' regular services, either through letters and cards or via e-mail.


I use RO Writer software and it does all of this for me: It's simple and yet effective.


When I ask shop owners who complain about business being slow if they do any of this, their normal response is “no.”


I do very little advertising at my dealership, but I normally have a busy shop every day through reminders sent to customers and referrals from our regular customers. Too many shop owners are thinking and doing business as if they are still in the 1970s.


They also are afraid to charge the appropriate labor rates, thinking they must be cheap to attract customers on price only.


Give your customers reasons to come back because of your service, honesty and integrity; a clean and attractive facility; pleasant counter personnel; and the fact that you clean their car's windshield and return the vehicle without grease marks on it. These customers will return—not for price—but for the quality of service you offer to them.


I have found that most patrons are not looking for the cheapest price, but for all of the above. They will come back and send their friends and colleagues.


David Dance


Owner


Clover Hill Tire & Auto Center Inc


Midlothian, Va.


Seeking CAD drawings


I am looking for “old” CADs (computer-aided designs) of wheels, tires or treads, which I want to use for a graphics art project as a show booth backdrop. If you can help, please e-mail me at tstrehl@pompstire.com. Thanks.


Tom Strehl


Retail sales and advertising manager


Pomp's Tire & Auto Service Inc.


Green Bay, Wis.

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