Seasonal Marketing: Plan NOW For the Fall Slowdown
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Seasonal Marketing: Why You Need To Plan NOW For The Fall Slowdown

Summer is the shop owner’s best friend. Just as surely as Independence Day means fireworks and Thanksgiving means turkey, the end of summer means the fall slowdown. And while it doesn’t happen overnight – just one fewer car here and another there – by September, the fall slowdown will be in full effect.

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David Rogers is the president of Auto Profit Masters and Shop4D, the industry’s first AI-driven, all-in-one shop-management system that allows each component – from the point of sale to labor guides, inspections, marketing, estimating, parts ordering and even shop management – to talk to one another, improving efficiency and saving money. Learn more and register for a free webinar at shop4d.com. Reach David via email at [email protected] or toll-free at 866-826-7911.

Summer is the shop owner’s best friend. Hot weather means road trip inspections, oil changes, A/C service and repair, and taking care of the maintenance customers have put off the rest of the year. Car count is high and things are looking good!

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But there’s a hammer waiting to drop.

Not to be a downer during the best time of year to own a shop, but just as surely as Independence Day means fireworks and Thanksgiving means turkey, the end of summer means the fall slowdown. And while it doesn’t happen overnight — just one fewer car here and another there — by the end of August, the fall slowdown will be in full effect.

I’ve seen it happen year after year, and it’s not just at my shop or in my town. It happens in shops all across the country.

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We hear it from fellow shop owners all too often. In the summer, they’re feeling fat and happy…“I don’t need to do any more marketing — business is great, car count is high, everything is working!”

But the fall slowdown is always there, the specter waiting at the end of August.

Fortunately, you can beat it.

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Planning For the Fall Slowdown

If you’re going to beat the fall slowdown, however, the key is bringing in enough new, high-quality, high-value customers.

That’s where a Seasonal Marketing Plan comes in. Internal marketing alone won’t cut it. Sending more oil change reminder cards to your customer base, trying to get one more visit when you need it — even if that works, it won’t be enough to bring up your car count and you’ll risk ruining those relationships. Your customer base is like a lemon — you can keep squeezing the lemon harder and harder, but, eventually, it will run out of juice and you’ll be left with ruined fruit.

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Deep discounting won’t cut it either. If you send out coupons offering your services at little-to-no-profit, it doesn’t take much imagination to know what will happen. How does giving away your work for free solve your problems? You might get a few new people through the door, but are they really the type of customers you want?

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So forget what you’ve been told or what you think you know about advertising. Start with a fresh slate. Think about your best customers, and aim higher.

Marketing is about laying the foundation for a relationship. When you know slow times are coming — before the slow down hits — is the best time to use marketing to attract new, great customers.

Building Relationships With Direct Mail

Direct mail is king when it comes to branding small, independent shops because it lets you target a higher value relationship customer to get results. I’m not talking about activity that the marketing “gurus” throw out about clicks or coupon redemptions. I’m talking about real results — attracting long-term, referring customers who provide real value to your shop.

Group of Business People with Social Media Concept

One hit wonders might be good enough for the radio, but they won’t cut it in your shop. You need a relationship with your customers, a mutually beneficial partnership. You need customers who want that, too — customers who will work for you, who trust you and who you trust. Direct mail lets you seek out these people, through targeting, research and list grooming, and send them the right message.

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But direct mail isn’t fast-twitch advertising. You have to plan ahead. From crafting the right message to designing the art to grooming the list to printing to distribution…there’s a lead time for any good piece of direct mail.

That reinforces the value of a seasonal marketing plan. If you wait until after the shop is slow and your techs are standing around to start thinking about a direct mail piece, it’s already too late.

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