Ultimately, the vehicles parked on your property reflect the kind of business you're running, so you should make the most of this free advertising. It doesn't matter what kind of service facility you have, there will always be cars and trucks in your parking lot.
Savvy owners and managers recognize that over the long haul, the vehicles at any tire dealership or service shop telegraph a message to passing motorists. The message simply says, “These cars and trucks reflect the clientele we serve; these folks trust us with their valuable machinery.”
In today's cut¬throat auto service marketplace, tire dealers and service shop operators are trying to attract every single motorist who has money to spend.
Many bosses tell me they're thrilled just to sustain the flow of work through the service department—and keep their technicians busy doing maintenance and repairs. It takes persistence, patience and sheer guts to accomplish this. I tip my hat to the owners and managers who succeed. However, many successful owners and managers make the vehicles on their property part of an advanced but unspoken advertising program.
That is, they display most prominently the kinds of vehicles they really prefer to service. If passing motorists can see it—or see it reasonably well—then the vehicle is one worth viewing, they tell me.
It's all the better if highly visible customer vehicles are something classic, distinctive, sporty and/or luxurious. Once again, the caliber and quality of machinery that passing motorists associate with your facility may make more of an impression than you realize.
One owner I respect very much has told me repeatedly, “High-quality machinery tends to attract more high-quality cars and trucks. Clapped-out looking 'econo boxes' don't impress anyone—least of all the clientele we prefer.” For instance, a pal of mine operates a traditional-looking, full-service gas station in New Jersey. His property is always neat, clean and looks as inviting as you can make a service station look. Over the years he's been able to build a loyal following of motorists who drive a wide range of vehicles, but all seek high-quality services.
First, my buddy's crew tries to wash every vehicle they service. More often, they're having each car cleaned by a trusted car wash that's minutes away. Second, they take care to make sure they park the nicest customer vehicles in the most visible parking spots on the property.
Third, employees always keep their vehicles out of sight, behind the building. Fourth, whenever possible, those customers' vehicles that are less attractive also are parked out of sight.
Some bosses argue that these more-expensive machines would tend to scare off owners of less-costly cars and trucks. But my buddy told me that over the years, a wide variety of quality-conscious motorists have noticed and admired the vehicles he displays most prominently on the property.
Indeed, the overall cleanliness and professionalism at his business is appealing. The caliber of vehicles out front only reinforces the higher-quality image he wants to project.
To him, it's icing on the cake of self-promotion. The look of the vehicles on his property has piqued the curiosity of many quality-conscious motorists, he told me. When these folks become customers, they also generated referrals of like-minded motorists.
The only thing better than being busy, my pal often quips, is being busy with people who're willing to spend money on quality work. So a combination of factors—including years of hard work—earned this fellow a solid following. He's a convenient example representing owners and managers who have taken their business' image a step higher by recognizing details that some competitors overlook.
At the very least, take a long, hard look at the vehicles sitting around your place. Don't let your business become a holding station or storage spot for broken-down machines that people cannot or will not repair. Sooner or later, some motorists need to recognize when it's time to either pay up or junk a vehicle.