AKRON (April 28, 2008) — Tire dealers and service shop operators seeking a clever, new promotional idea may want to look below the motorist's feet—yes, floor mats with a message may complement your marketing plans.
Regular Tire Business readers know I've carped for years about the impact overall cleanliness has on the typical service customer. Of course, the majority of service customers are women who, traditionally, tend to be more aware of neatness and cleanliness than men. In previous columns, I've advocated routine use of seat covers, floor mats and steering wheel covers.
Ultimately, using these products saves a lot of time and builds customer loyalty. In short, protecting the customer's vehicle this way helps you exceed customer's expectations. Arguably, that's the most effective way to boost referral business.
Petoskey Plastics Inc., based in Petoskey, Mich., has been the name in vehicle protection products for both the original equipment and aftermarket segments for years (www.petoskeyplastics.com). Now the company has added an interesting wrinkle to the floor mats it sells to service facilities throughout the auto repair industry. According to Mike Coulter, Petoskey's senior sales manager, the “ad mat” idea may make those innocuous disposable mats an integral part of a service facility's marketing plan.
First, mat customers can emblazon that otherwise blank mat with timely service and/or maintenance messages, Mr. Coulter explained. On the one hand, some bosses see mats as a necessary but disposable evil that no one may notice. On the other hand, others see it as another potential message board or mini-billboard for marketing.
Second, service mat purchasers could take the mat's usefulness to another level by including service coupons with it. Petoskey's newest advertising mats can be ordered with a variety of perforated coupons that are easy to remove.
The coupons remind all service personnel of the need to sell maintenance services. Plus, putting the perforated coupon in front of them—and potentially, in front of the motorist—adds an invaluable immediacy to the message, Mr. Coulter said. The time to promote maintenance is right now, before a competitor has the opportunity to do so.
Mr. Coulter emphasized that floor mats bearing promotions and coupons can be purchased in lots as few as 3,000 mats (six boxes of 500 mats). Besides making a mat trial more attractive, it also makes it easier for you to update your promotions more often.
Last but not least, Petoskey's “coupon mat” provides some indirect insight into new car dealers' zeal for promoting repairs and maintenance more fervently than they have in the past (refer to my column in the March 3 issue of Tire Business).
Mr. Coulter said attendees at the recent National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show demonstrated strong interest in the coupon mat concept. It's another indicator, he noted, that as vehicle sales slump, new car dealers are pursuing every opportunity to turn their service departments into profit centers.