by Chris Quinlan, CEO
Bringing in more revenue is at the top of the list of things to do for most shop owners in 2011. Selling more and cutting costs are the tried and true methods for doing this but, often, both are easier said than done. That is why some smart automotive repair shop owners are considering alternatives.
Many of you are familiar with rebates. They are great tools for advertising and promoting low prices. Unfortunately, over the years, they have been seen as a necessary evil at worst, and a nuisance at best. But many shop owners are starting to see rebates in a new light. Thanks to new technology, not only do they deliver an enhanced experience to consumers, they also deliver significant return on investment in a number
Opportunities for Follow-up Sales
Many times, rebates are offered for big-ticket items. Those items often require additional, less expensive items. For instance, if you sell a set of tires, your customer also needs them to be mounted and balanced. If you make it easier for customers to redeem rebates on-line you, for one, create a more open avenue of communication with them and, two, you can collect pertinent and accurate information, such as e-mail and mailing addresses, of those who frequent your shop. You now have an opportunity to offer follow-up specials and redemption choices that include deals on other things they need, such as brakes, oil changes and other services you offer. Shop owners who have taken this approach of giving customers a more personalized experience and the ability to choose their reward have seen anywhere from 30% to 40% of the rebate dollars paid out to their customers being spent back in their shop. It’s a “win-win” situation where consumers, shop owners and vendors can each reap the benefits of this innovative approach to promotional marketing.
Creating a fast and easy rebate process can put you in a favorable light with your customers. But it does not need to stop there. As mentioned before, you can tailor your marketing to them and can offer follow-up specials. You can also add them to an e-newsletter to market new services or create special events, and invite your best customers who you know have extra rebate money to spend. Through these efforts, you can create a loyalty program, or simply tie in your current loyalty program, where consumers can earn points and incentives as well as their rebate money, creating the most effective program for your business.
Valuable Market Research
Pre-paid card technology can also be used to provide shop owners with considerable market research on their customers. Imagine this: A manufacturer offers a $50 rebate on brake pads and installation. The rebate processor makes it really easy for people to get the rebate by putting the whole process on-line. They mail out a pre-paid card to your customer, who uses that card to spend $10 on new wiper blades, $20 on a haircut and $20 at the driving range. Suddenly, you know a lot more about your customers than you ever did before, and you can leverage these insights to tailor promotions to drive rebated dollars back to your business and spent on your services. It’s when you begin to collect this type of data that you gain a better understanding of your customers’ demographics and their spending habits, allowing you to create a more detailed and targeted marketing program than you could have imagined before.
Rebates can become a very powerful marketing and advertising tool for automotive service providers who are willing to reconsider them and incorporate new technology. After the long, cold winter with automobile maintenance at its peak, it might just be the push that helps your shop increase sales and reach its full potential.
Chris Quinlan is founder and chief executive officer of Ohana Companies, an innovative leader in rebate and payment processing. To contact Chris, call 302-225-5505, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.everybodywins.com.