Low-budget Marketing Ideas For Big-dollar Results
by Jeanne Smalling Archer
Like most shop owners, at one time or another you've probably wondered how to market your shop
more effectively. After working with several owners of automotive service businesses, I've realized that
even the most competent managers may still be unsure about marketing a business. Their common
complaint echoes thewords of American businessman John Wanamaker, who said, "I know that half the
money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half."
Those feelings, combined with skyrocketing costs for traditional mass media advertising, have led many
to try some less-than-traditional methods. The demands of customers have changed drastically in the
last few years. Recognize that animportant aspect of marketing is to know what products and services
your customers want now and to deliver them in a manner that exceeds their expectations.
Here are some ideas that have worked successfully for profitable shop owners in the United States and
Everything (and every person!) representing your shop should convey the business image that
you'd like them to convey.
Lock in agreat logo. Use a good, distinctive logo on everything you can to enhance your business
image, create an identity and increase your name recognition.
Spruce up your signs. One of the first things people notice about your business is your sign. Use
bright colors to attract attention, make it flashy and easy to read, and clear enough to be seen
from the street.
Invest in high-quality,colorful printed materials. Take a hard look at your business cards,
letterheads, invoices and envelopes. They represent you when you're not around. If they don't
look professional, neither will you.
Touch up your telephone techniques. Many customers will make their first contact with you by
phone. They may decide whether to do business with you based on how friendly and competent
youremployees sound. Avoid mumbling or speaking too fast and establish guidelines that cover
how many times the phone can ring before being answered and specific phrases used to greet
Use "messages on hold." Professionally done, these messages can promote your services and the
expertise of your employees. The added benefit is that customers who must be placed on hold
hear the messages youwant them to hear.
Clean up your act! We've all seen businesses with dirty windows, littered parking lots or peeling
paint. Customers today are very discriminating and observant. Make sure your building is clean
and neat, and that the bathrooms and customer areas are spotless.
Use uniforms. It's embarrassing to ask someone a question, only to find that the person was a
customer, too! Someshops have washing machines and dryers on the premises to make it easy to
keep employee uniforms fresh and clean.
Shine your service trucks. If you use service trucks for off-site repairs, keep them clean. United
Parcel Service (UPS) washes their trucks every night because they recognize that those trucks are
moving billboards for the company.
Boost Your Image
Wow Your Customers
Washyour customers' cars on big-ticket services. Some shop owners do this on-site. Others have
partnered with "touch-free" car wash facilities for a very nominal fee.
Put gifts in cars. Many customers would be pleasantly surprised to pick up their car and find a
fresh flower in a water vial on the car seat with a note saying, "Thanks for your business." Flowers
can be ordered from your localflorist for less than $1 each and make a big impression on special
occasions like Mother's Day or Valentine's Day. Candy is another great gift for anyone.
It used to be enough to meet customer expectations, but not in today's highly competitive environment.
You must go beyond "acceptable" and move toward "superlative." In other words, exceed expectations
and delight customers so much they...
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