By John Volz
Volz Bros. Auto Service
Offering a shuttle service for your customers provides some great opportunities. Many times, customers drop by with an unexpected issue and have not planned for a ride back home or to work. By providing a shuttle service, you give your customer added value that may help them decide to leave the vehicle for repair and, hence, provides you with the opportunity for revenue.
When choosing a shuttle car for your business, consider what image you want to portray to your current and potential customers. If you give them a ride in an old pickup truck with parts rolling around in the back, that’s what they will associate you with. Pick a vehicle that represents who you are and what you do.
Our shop specializes in Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Lexus and Acura, with an emphasis on Subaru repair and service. Our specialty, coupled with the fact that we are in a rural area that receives its fair share of snow in the winter, made Subaru the best fit for our shop. We purchased a 2010 Subaru Outback (pictured), had the car “wrapped” with our logo, and as we drive customers to their destination or run shop errands we receive great exposure.
We had an advertising company that specializes in wrapping cars and trucks create a catchy design. We budgeted this expense (approximately $2,500) in our annual advertising budget. We use the vehicle daily to shuttle customers, go to the bank as well as run other business-related errands.
I would estimate that more than 500 people see the vehicle on a daily basis, or 2,500 per week. Multiply that times 52 weeks and that’s well over 100,000 sets of eyes seeing our car on the road with our company logo each year in the local community.
We also take the vehicle to area events that we sponsor. For example, we do an annual sponsorship with our local community “Center for the Arts” non-profit that produces first-class music in our community. When we sponsor an event, we request a parking spot out front and our vehicle gets seen by more than 300 members of the audience at each show.
Thinking out of the box when it comes to marketing can help strengthen your position in your community. Although newspaper ads are still a part of our marketing plan, along with radio and social media, our company car is now part of the foundation. Contrast that with 20 years ago, when it was newspaper and the local phone book, and perhaps some local radio, that would cover our needs. Considering the busy lifestyles that most people have, our plan covers many different areas that hopefully reach out to our current as well as future customer base.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles
We hope to add another car in the future and our discussion has included either a hybrid or possibly a fully electric car. The hybrid concept certainly portrays our forward business thinking, and doing the math to determine if the additional cost makes sense was certainly eye opening.
When comparing the hybrid to a similar vehicle, it appears that the breakeven point is somewhere around five to eight years, depending on how many miles you drive. So, choosing a hybrid may be more of a statement rather than an actual cost-saving decision. Showing your customers that you believe in the advances of hybrid technology will help make a statement about the caliber of your shop.
Whatever your choice, find a car that represents your shop in a professional manner and that says “this is who we are.” We always keep our car very clean and maintain a full tank of gas.
There are many ways to reach out and touch your customer base. Are you using all the opportunities that are available to your business?
John Volz is owner of Volz Bros. Auto Service in Grass Valley, CA. The 38-year industry veteran goes to great lengths to put customers first and takes pride in offering environmentally conscious auto service, which he’s done since the day he opened the shop in 1982. Volz Bros. specializes in Subaru (the shop’s primary specialty), Toyota, Honda, Lexus and Acura.