Today, savvy automotive service providers use sales follow-ups and ongoing promotions to maintain an edge on their competition.
This means that tire dealers and service shop operators should continue asking for orders as well as seizing opportunities to keep their business' profile visible within their market area.
Simply put, an uncertain economy is no reason to withdraw from — ignore — existing customers or potential new ones. Rather, tough times demand strong, consistent outreach to the marketplace in general.
Mentors and trusted sources told me these strategies always helped their businesses rebound quicker — not to mention stronger — from previous economic downturns and recessions.
These themes may sound like new ideas to some readers. To the contrary, I heard savvy owners and managers preaching the methods decades ago.
Automotive service providers who don't practice these approaches risk falling farther and farther behind their competition during a recession or business downturn.
Worse yet, they may not catch up to them whenever the economy rebounds.
Before I proceed, let's recognize that the country faces frightful consequences of this coronavirus pandemic. For one thing, your customers may not have felt the worst impact of the economic distress just yet. That may be around the corner.
For another, the negative impact on the economy ultimately may exceed that of the Great Depression during the 1930s.
Presently, auto maintenance and repair is not a major priority in many households, but at some point consumers will resume driving. A reliable vehicle will still be a necessity for many commuters throughout the country.
Whether we refer to this as a depression or recession, don't lose sight of this reality: Items such as brakes and tires will continue wearing out.
Other mechanical breakdowns will continue occurring on vehicles within your market area.
Eventually, a motorist will have to fix a vehicle, temporarily park it or sell it. He or she may have to scrap an unrepaired vehicle altogether.
History will repeat itself in this regard: A percentage of car owners will have the wherewithal to maintain and repair their vehicles.
Your future lies in capitalizing on this percentage of worthwhile service prospects. I'll call them the "worthies."
The overall number of potential worthies may be smaller than it was in pre-pandemic times. Competition within the auto repair arena has been cutthroat for years.
I expect it to be every bit as fierce in the future as auto service providers fight for a slice of this smaller pie.
Embrace that future today by pursuing worthies who may be right under your nose. These are motorists for whom your service sales team already has written repair estimates.
On one hand, the pandemic may have prompted some people to delay those repairs. On the other hand, experience shows that some car owners may postpone work for reasons as basic as general laziness or indifference. (They'll worry about the vehicle when it's no longer drivable.)
Carefully cull every unsold, written repair estimate from your records. Include any written quotes for new tires.
Politely and patiently email and call these prospects because you don't know how much business they represent until you follow up.
You may surprise yourself by the number of pending service sales you're able to close. And in the grand scheme of things, slower-than-normal bays are not as bad as empty bays.
In that spirit, entice reluctant prospects with discounts and special offers of some kind. There's an old saying that sometimes giving a little yields a lot.
Naturally, the coronavirus is on everyone's mind. So, state that your crew faithfully practices the recommended anti-virus procedures.
To me, this clarification should be part of every email, follow-up call, sales promotion, etc.
What's more, some service providers are trying to soothe skittish customers by offering vehicle pickup and delivery. This courtesy may become a bigger and bigger feature in these nervous times.
OK, suppose you and your sales team have waded through those unsold, potential worthies. If you have, then caucus about ongoing customer contacts and promotions — via email, text messages, print media, etc.
Mind you, each communication need not be an overt sales pitch. At the very least, however, offer kind words and reassurances that your crew is ready and willing to handle maintenance, repairs and any automotive emergency that might occur.