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Direct Mail Business Aims to Help Repair Shop Owners Thrive in Tough Economy

The company says it distinguishes itself from other direct mail providers by offering strategically developed mailing lists that can target high-caliber customers by income, geographic area and even specific car model ownership.

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A few years ago, Greg Sands turned his more than 15 years of industry experience as owner of 20 national auto service centers into a new business venture that aims to help other struggling auto repair store operators keep their businesses afloat.

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In 2008, Sands founded Mudlick Mail, which offers direct mail services for several hundred automotive repair shops nationally. Mudlick Mail grew out of Sand’s realization that the “standard direct mail” approach was not effectively reaching his target audience. The company says it distinguishes itself from other direct mail providers by offering strategically developed mailing lists that can target high-caliber customers by income, geographic area and even specific car model ownership. Mudlick also provides free, Web-based training on customer service, staffing and other parts of the business that will help shop owners retain new customers.

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Three years ago, Chris and Heather Carney were close to giving up on the automotive repair shop they’d owned for more than two decades. Deeply in debt and failing to generate enough revenue to cover expenses, the couple turned to Mudlick Mail for help. Sands evaluated the Carneys’ business, suggesting new customer service practices, employee training programs and marketing initiatives. As a result, the Carneys just celebrated the highest sales month in their 26-year history, and monthly sales have doubled since they adopted Sands’ strategies, according to Mudlick.

“If we hadn’t met Greg, we wouldn’t still be in business,” said Heather Carney, co-owner of CARNEEDS in Paducah, KY.

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The couple says a major factor in CARNEEDS’ success is the direct mail program provided by Mudlick Mail. The demographically targeted program is includes graphic design services, printing, listing services, postage and delivery for one flat fee.

Sands and Mudlick President Tim Ross have more than 17 years experience as successful advertisers in the automotive industry. Through Mudlick Mail, they say they’ve helped hundreds of shop owners all over the country improve their advertising results by sharing their techniques and strategies for serving customers who respond to direct mail advertising efforts.

“Our goal is to take what we’ve learned from our wealth of experience in the automotive service business and apply that knowledge to help other shop owners succeed,” said Sands. “We know firsthand what works, so our customers don’t waste money on marketing that isn’t effective.”

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Mudlick Mail says it does everything for its clients, providing artwork, carrier route selection, printing, labeling, postage and trucking.

“Our marketing is on auto-pilot,” said Heather Carney. “It’s like clockwork every month.”

Mike Veenstra, owner of Veenstra’s Garage in Grand Rapids, MI, said his sales have risen by 10 to 20 percent since implementing a consistent direct mail program. Mudlick Mail customer Bob Hicks, of Golden Rule Automotive in Covington, Ga., reports an annual sales increase of 32 percent and expects direct mail to help him reach the long-awaited $1 million mark in sales.

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