Marketplace - Get Involved!
If you are in the car wash or fast lube business, you have no doubt
been challenged with marketing your services in an increasingly
competitive marketplace. To start with, we should be clear that
a comprehensive marketing plan includes more than just advertisements
and coupons. The purpose of this column is to revisit one of the
more often forgotten marketing components: your community.
Your Community Is Your Marketplace
That sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? However, as we consult with
operators all over the country, we find that many of them are missing
this most powerful business builder in their marketing plan. Being
involved with your community really means being involved. Regardless
of the size of the city or town your business is in, at some level
there is a community. What are you doing to become a visible part
of that community?
People Do Business with People
Customers make buying decisions about where they purchase products
and services based on several criteria including convenience, quality,
trust, reliability, professionalism, price, and relationship. How
your customer perceives the values you offer is often overridden
by how they feel about you and your business. How do your customers
feel about you?
Enhancing a Customer's Perception of Your Business
A simple question to ask yourself is whether you would rather do
business with someone who supports your community or with someone
who doesn't. If you are not actively supporting your community,
you are missing a powerful opportunity and may not even know it.
People don't come to your business just so you can make money.
They come to have their needs met. If
you can meet their needs and serve an even greater cause, that is
a bonus to doing business with you and adds yet another value to
being your customer. People often choose service providers because
they support a common cause.
Scott Freund of Prowash in Union, NJ, and a car wash consultant
for PRI, had a unique approach to helping the local high school
raise money for its Drug Alliance program. The teens felt strongly
about doing something, so they organized a one-day fundraiser and
set up a table at Prowash. They
distributed literature and free hot dogs and soda to the customers:
kids, parents, teachers, and community members.
Prowash simply provided the venue and donated half of the day's
car wash proceeds - over $2,000 - to the Drug Alliance. In turn,
the teens promoted Prowash via word-of-mouth and local newspaper
coverage of the fundraiser. It was a win/win situation for everyone.
The press and goodwill received from a promotion like this extends
long into future business and leads to many new customers. Whether
you are in the car wash or fast lube business, the concept can work
People like doing business with people who help others. This type
of promotion can work with virtually any community or national cause
and can be altered to fit various price structures and marketing
goals. A charitable promotion I recently heard of was created to
benefit the local Emergency Medical Service. The service needed
to purchase a new emergency vehicle and the proceeds of the event
were donated to assist. The community response was fabulous and
everyone benefited. What could you do to support a cause in your
Discounts and Contributions
The amount of a discount or contribution could simply be a few
dollars per car serviced. For example, if you were donating toward
purchasing new uniforms for the local high school cheerleaders,
you could offer a $3.00 contribution per car serviced. Design a
special coupon and have the cheerleaders hand them out for you to
all their friends and family. Announce the event at the Friday night
game. Every coupon that gets redeemed at your location means a contribution
to the cause and possibly a new customer for you. Make sure you
monitor the way the coupons are handed out and offer some guidance
on how it is to be done properly.
The cause could be new uniforms for a high school sports team,
a donation to a local food bank, or helping to build a new community
park. There are always worthy causes. Get together with your staff
and involve them in the selection and planning process. A note of
caution: Don't select highly controversial causes that could bring
potentially negative press to your center.
When you run a successful promotion, the result should be increased
traffic and that can mean overloading your staff. Make sure your
center is in top operating condition and your inventory is adequate.
Remember, any time you bring in a new customer you have an opportunity
to develop a long-term relationship. Have the staff in place to
introduce these newcomers to the value of your services.
Joseph Rosales is the founder and
president of Performance Resources Inc., a fast-lube industry consulting
and training company offering a wide range of services, including
on-site visitations to help you improve the overall performance
of your business. To find out more about the services PRI offers
visit the company's web site at www.performancepros.com.