Tag Archive | "Marketing"

ARE YOU CREATING ‘THRESHOLD RESISTANCE’?

Tags: , , ,

ARE YOU CREATING ‘THRESHOLD RESISTANCE’?


Don’t entice customers into your premises or website only to have them walk out in disgust.

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Marketing is a process that should be in operation from the creation of initial awareness through to the physical point of purchase.

Whether you are a garage business, accessory retailer or motor factor, your existing and potential customers are picking up signs and signals all the time and at different stages of the buying process.

You’d like to think that the purchasing process is as simple as running an advert, the customer sees what they want, then the customer comes to you to make a purchase – job done. If only it was that easy.

END GAME
The problem is many focus on the early stages of their marketing, for example creating initial awareness, but neglect other aspects closer to the point of sale; failing to realise that there is still the potential for what is known as ‘threshold resistance’.

Threshold Resistance is the title of a book written by retailing pioneer A. Alfred Taubman who states that ‘Threshold Resistance is the physical and psychological barrier that stands between a shopper and the inside of a store’. Of course, these days Threshold Resistance applies equally, if metaphorically, to online selling too (websites can give out the wrong selling signals).

Ask yourself if you’ve ever come across a retailer or business where you just couldn’t bring yourself to go in? There are times when threshold resistance occurs, when there’s no reason for it to be there. This is when there are physical aspects to a business that are repelling customers.

Tidy front-of-house boosts customer confidence

Tidy front-of-house boosts customer confidence

INVESTMENT
So, you’ve done all the heavy marketing lifting, you’ve invested a lot of money in attracting customers and you’ve brought them to the point of purchase. Unfortunately, the job isn’t finished here, you can’t yet guarantee the sale – you’ve got to get the customer through the door. If this doesn’t happen, you’ve blown all that investment in marketing so far, which is why businesses also have signage and point of sale displays – to help customers.

But the reality is often customers are getting as far as the business ‘threshold’, be it a physical retail outlet, garage or online website, but resisting because they’re receiving the wrong signals. One of the biggest signals people base their judgements on at this stage of the marketing process is how your business and the people within it look.

But there are still certain types of business that could do so much more to improve their perception, but have resisted making improvements to their physical environment. Unfortunately, many automotive outlets remain in this category. Many obviously consider that they fall outside of this customer judgment arena. Well they may have in the past, but in an area where the dealerships and chains are seeming to excel, the independents must follow or risk losing out.

INTIMIDATION
Customer intimidation is a term that could be swapped with threshold resistance. It’s another thing that will destroy a sale.

In areas where customers lack knowledge and expertise, it is natural for them to feel a little
uneasy when making a purchase. Not only do they not want to make bad decisions, they also don’t want to be laughed out of the shop either.

It is well known that some people, especially women, do feel intimidated by the garage environment. But I would say that garages, retailers and motor factors aren’t the only culprits. There are other trade counters such as plumbing, electrical and builder’s merchants that could make positive improvements through tidying up their appearance and coming across as less intimidating to customers.

To customers, little things do matter. Customers do notice when furniture is threadbare, when floors and walls are dirty, when an environment is just plain untidy and this does reflect on their judgement. I once read an article about an airline where the CEO remarked that if a customer found a coffee stain on their fold-down table in front of their seat, they would think that the airline didn’t take care when maintaining its engines.

The same could be said of delivery or company liveried vehicles – if these are dirty,
what sort of signals are they giving out to people who see them? And what about dress- sense and personal cleanliness?

Okay, garage environments can be dirty, but simple procedures can mitigate the customer having to see or witness this – we’re talking dirty overalls and hands here. You’ll notice that the likes of Halfords have tidy-looking staff.

A very simple example that I particularly notice is when an independent garage or retailer, provides their employees with liveried overalls or shirts – this is something that is expected in big retail, but to me, an independent that goes to the trouble of putting their logo on clothing is more likely to apply more attention to detail on larger issues.

In the grand scheme of all things marketing, the recommendation is don’t be deliberately putting people off buying from you. Improving your premises and how you look could be one of the most cost effective investments you could make to your business.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

IS YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS SITTING ON A GOLDMINE?

Tags: , ,

IS YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS SITTING ON A GOLDMINE?


Existing customers are the key to reaching that pot of gold, writes Andy Vickery

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

If you’re worrying about your garage’s declining MOT or servicing count, or the fact that you’re having to take more and more low value work from online referral sites, did you know that you could actually be sat on your own pot of gold that could be a solution to your worries?

This pot of gold is likely to be in your computer and contained within your garage management system – and it’s called ‘customers’. Obvious really, but in reality, existing customers are very often overlooked in terms of marketing or gaining more business in favour of chasing new customers.

Outside of the garage trade, marketing to existing customers seems to be a recognised and well-implemented method of maintaining and indeed increasing business. But for some reason, many garages are yet to take this on-board.

I know this to be true because I have talked to and worked with many garage owners who have databases of many thousands of previous customers and when I’ve asked them how often they contact them, they say ‘never’. They might send the odd MOT or service reminder, but that’s it. One garage owner I met, who’d been in business for 30+ years, who was recently struggling, and was clearly cynical about marketing in general, actually said to me: “why would we want to waste money contacting customers? They’ve used us before and know what we are like”. Not his fault for thinking this, you would kind of like it to be the case, but consumer buying procedures and habits are now changing, along with technology that is potentially disrupting what we once assumed or could rely on.

A strategy of marketing to your existing customers can be extremely beneficial to your business for many reasons, but before I go into those reasons, I’d like to rollback slightly to the importance of making sure you capture customer information in the first place.

ARE YOU CAPTURING YOUR CUSTOMERS’ DETAILS?

Making sure you have your customers’ ‘full’ contact details is extremely important for your business, but it still seems that many are uncomfortable with asking for this. Along with a customer’s physical address, you need to make sure you obtain an email address and mobile phone number.

This should become standard procedure when booking in a customer or at the point of handing back the car. It’s probably better at the outset as you can state that you may need to contact the customer. You can also make it a standard procedure to email receipts/ invoices to customers, a bit like some large retailers do. If the customer is reluctant to give details, tell them that they will be able to have a record they can file on their computer that will be handy when they come to sell the car. This is just an idea, but hopefully you get the picture – there are ways of gently getting this information, but you may have to counter a customer’s natural objection to disclosing personal info’ – tell them they will be entered into your monthly draw if it helps.

comped-pot-and-tree

EXISTING CUSTOMER DATA
So it is a great idea to implement a standard procedure for obtaining all customer information, but what about your existing customer information? Many businesses will have data that is incomplete or lacking email addresses or mobile phone numbers purely because they date back to pre- technology days.

In the first instance, it would be good to go through the data that you do have to try to categorise it somehow for future marketing. Obviously if you don’t have email addresses, you won’t be able to email those customers, but ‘lost’ customer letters and mailings are still a good technique of bringing business back in. You can then update the customer details when they come in.

WHY MARKET TO EXISTING CUSTOMERS?
Let’s try and answer the question raised by the garage owner who didn’t think it was necessary to market to existing customers. Customer long-term value: In the first instance, customers should be viewed in terms of their ‘long term value’ – not just a one-off sale. In terms of marketing, maximising the long- term value of a customer is much more cost-effective than trying to obtain new customers. If you consider the value of a customer over five or ten years, this will help you understand the value of investing in marketing to retain them.

Customer retention: Is there such a thing as brand or customer loyalty anymore? Yes, this is still alive and kicking, but it has to be worked at and earned. People have very short memories and can be easily tempted by other offers, especially if they are not shown that they are appreciated or important. Staying top of mind is extremely important if you want customers to return year-on-year, especially in this highly competitive and technologically disruptive age.

Upselling other services:
Making sure your customers are aware of your complete range of services is very important in terms of maximising their value. This will also make sure you don’t lose out when a customer goes elsewhere for a service that you could have otherwise provided. You may have recently added services; you may offer tyres, you may be air conditioning specialists – but you shouldn’t take for granted that your customers will know this.

Displaying your expertise:
Customers will often have questions in mind when they need help with their motors. They may have come to you for a service or MOT, but do you offer diesel diagnostics? Can you work on the brand or model of new car they’ve just purchased? Can you work on electric hybrids? It’s easy to assume that a customer would know this, but often it’s not the case. This sort of information must be given to existing customers on a regular basis, that way you will stop them going elsewhere for services you provide.

Justifying prices: When we did a survey a while back, although price was important to customers, it wasn’t the most important reason a garage retained their best customers. In terms of your ideal type of customer, you stand a better chance of justifying your particular level of pricing when you regularly communicate what you can do and your levels of expertise, that way, customers will understand the value of what they are getting and won’t question price.

Getting referral business: A key reason for marketing to existing customers is to stay top of mind when they need you, but a by-product of this is you also stand a much better chance of getting recommendations and referrals from your existing customers. You can even use this as a reason to contact existing customers, telling them that they will be rewarded for referrals.

TURNING YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS INTO GOLD
So whilst you might be sat on a goldmine, you will have to work at it and ‘mine it’ to convert its value. This can be achieved by regularly staying in contact with your database of existing customers. By doing this you will make sure they keep coming back to you year-on-year, buying more services from you, whilst also recommending you to others – that’s the gold!

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

MARKETING YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS EFFECTIVELY

Tags: , , ,

MARKETING YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS EFFECTIVELY


Marketing is more than just a token social media page, writes Andy Vickery

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Let’s cut to the chase, marketing to most garage owners and businesses is a can of worms. What works, what doesn’t? Are print, direct mail and advertising dead? Should we do more emails – should we do a video?

To most, marketing appears to be a smoke and mirrors art that is more about luck and being in the right place at the right time. After all, you’ve tried it and nothing appears to have worked before.

The problem is there are so many elements within marketing to attend to, but most only ever see the end results of what others are doing – an email, mailer or advert, and not what is going on behind it all. The best that most can come up with then is to copy what others are doing. But what if the garage down the road was just guessing at their marketing and you were to copy them?

Then there’s being drawn to the latest ‘shiny’ object. A media rep calls from an online technology company that promises your business will be in front of a gazillion customers visiting their website every day.

The media rep tells you that this is what you should be doing because everybody’s doing it and you’re going to miss out. The rep then goes on to say ‘you’re not still using old-fashioned methods of marketing are you?’ It’s enough to make your head explode.

When you first set up in business, nobody ever told you that you had to be a marketer as well. But marketing isn’t difficult, that is when you know how. If you can fix cars, you can certainly embrace a few concepts that will improve your marketing.

CHANGE YOUR THINKING
The problem is that many just don’t take marketing seriously enough to turn it into a business process. The first thing to do is to see marketing as part of the process of running your business, like you would with doing the accounts or any other admin’ system or procedures you might have in place.

Realise that marketing is something that requires investment, but that it’s also a process that will provide a return on investment. A problem that many have is they try to do marketing that is free or cheap,
which sadly ends up being ineffective for that very reason.

Marketing and sales are as important as the work you do. The main difference to any other business procedures is that your marketing process is what will bring customers to your door, pay the wages and overheads and hopefully make you a profit.

marketing

CLEAR ON YOUR MARKET
Who are your best customers? What is your best type of work? Determining your ‘target market’ can be a very technical subject, but these two basic questions are a great place to start. Taking a step back to consider these could provide the impetus for change in your business. Once you know the type of customers you want more of, you will be able to devise promotions that ‘talk their language’, promote the things that will resonate with them, and turn up in the right places to get you noticed.

YOUR MARKETING MESSAGE
Again, this is a subject that could fill a book or two and indeed has. But what you say to your customers is important. Too many rely on advertising that just contains a logo and a list what they do – which is actually
probably no different to the business down the road. Put yourself in the position of the customer; who should they choose when both garages appear to offer the same services? The cheapest?

Your ideal customers are likely to be those that have values above what you actually do. They see a value in your training, your honesty, the fact you are involved in community projects. How can you make yourself different from your competitors? These things do help customers make a discerning decision. So, going back to your ideal customer, what is it that appeals to them?

MEDIA – DELIVERING YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUR MARKET
Do you start a Facebook Page? is Social Media what you should concentrate on? Let’s get one thing straight from the outset – when it comes to marketing, no one method should be utilised at the expense of others. And as far as Social Media is concerned, it won’t necessarily be the one thing that is going to bear the sort of fruit you require very quickly; certainly not on its own. Use Social Media, but in a measured way.

By spending a bit of time considering your market, your message and your media, you will be able to put together much more effective marketing; there will be more of a method and strategy behind it – it may not be perfect straight away, but it can be refined as you move forward.

ARE YOU COMMITTED?
The last part of the equation is commitment. Marketing is not something that should be seen as free or cheap, or indeed something that is done only once. It is a continual process. Your final thing to do is to set up a marketing calendar then stick to it, measure it, refine it and repeat it.

motorrepairmarketing.com

Posted in CAT Know-How, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

TRW RETAINS ‘TOP’ POSITION FOR PAINTED BRAKE DISCS


PROMOTIONAL ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF TRW

Frydlant_Plant_Image

Following the launch of its latest ‘True Originals’ product campaign, which this time is focused on brake discs, TRW Aftermarket’s UK Marketing Manager, Kevin Price explains to CAT online how through innovation and R&D, a first to market approach and an unrivalled understanding of the market, the business retains its position at the top of the table for painted brake discs.

Almost a decade ago, TRW led the market by introducing a small, niche range of black painted discs. The special paint used was developed in-house, in conjunction with a major VM to reduce corrosion.

Fast forward to today, and as a direct result of customer demand, every one of the 12 million brake discs supplied each year by TRW is black painted, as standard.

The idea for painted discs for the aftermarket was born after research showed that IAM customers wanted an offer which mirrored that of the Original Equipment Supplier (OES) channel. TRW already manufactured painted discs at OES level – grey discs for Volvo and black for Ford.

By reflecting this in the aftermarket, we raised our credibility and forged a closer link to OE.

The niche programme was launched in 2007, but it became quickly apparent that there was a gap in the market – motorists and garages alike wanted this product. Only a year later and we had converted 60 percent of our range, and at Automechanika, Frankfurt in 2008, we not only announced our intention to offer a bigger range, but in effect, in due course to offer ONLY painted discs.

Making the decision to be the first aftermarket supplier to offer a painted-only range not only strengthened our braking portfolio, it reinforced our position as an innovator across Europe.

The brake discs are coated in a special black paint. This was specifically developed by TRW to create a unique surface that adds a protective barrier against rust. Aesthetically, the paint has a special finish, which was pitched at the more ‘discerning motorist’. This was important in 2007 and is a vital differentiator nearly 10 years down the line as drivers are more and more aware of the ‘look’ of automotive parts.

As a leading automotive safety expert, it’s important to TRW to retain as much control over the manufacturing and testing processes as possible. In line with this, the business manufactures more than 70 percent of TRW branded discs in-house at TRW’s global manufacturing plants, including its leading European facility in Frydlant, Czech Republic. Every disc is rigorously tested to the highest standard. Tests include: Dyno tests, salt spray tests and car tests.

The discs are packaged in a special VCI (Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor) paper which takes the place of an oil film coating. This eliminates the need to laboriously degrease them prior to fitting, saving time in the workshop.

As a pioneer in the design, development and manufacture of complete braking systems for vehicle manufacturers (VMs), the TRW brand has more than 100 years’ experience; and for the past 20 years, we have directly transferred this knowledge and experience into our aftermarket offer.

Our OE experience affords us innate knowledge of how each part operates within a system and how systems interact with each other. By manufacturing parts that work in harmony with each other, and within that particular system, we are able to provide the perfect braking solution every time, for every class and weight of vehicle.

All of this has made us the aftermarket partner of choice for the past 20 years. With a philosophy to forever push the boundaries of innovation, in order to best serve the customer, TRW is always one step ahead. Always the one true original.

Posted in Featured Sidebar, Industry InsightComments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

DON’T DIG A TRENCH, BUILD A RELATIONSHIP


Andy Savva There is a time and a place for promotions, but don’t let it be at the expense of your existing customers

Andy Savva

Andy Savva Savva has run various large independent garages and has been a troubleshooter for underperforming franchise workshops. comment@haymarketcom

One of the biggest mistakes I see regularly within the independent garage sector is the constant advertising specifically in local press with ‘come and get me’ offers in order to attract new business. Most of these already established business whether large or small will rarely measure the effectiveness of such campaigns or analyse the type of customers they are attracting and indeed very few of these business actually understand the gems that already exist within their database.

UNTHINKING DECISION

Lack of thought is given to how an existing customer may feel if he or she saw an offer that was never offered to them, after being a loyal customer for a number of years – a real kick in the teeth. We’ve all seen big corporations like Sky TV, Vodafone, and the utility companies offering far better terms for new customers than any existing customer can get. In my opinion this form of ‘transactional marketing’ does not work in the independent garage sector as it does not lead to long term loyalty and leads to these potential new customers hopping from one garage deal to the next one.

There is no point trying to attract vast numbers of new customers and provide them with a substandard service based on a cheap price that can cause severe damage to the reputation of the business. Another factor is that established customers tend to buy more and are less price-sensitive and might be less likely to defect due to price alone.

RELATIONSHIP MARKETING

You have to focus on what I call ‘relationship marketing’ – a form of communication with your existing customers that comes in many guises. However your own database and the gems within must always be your starting point. It also builds a platform were the business and its customers are more likely to be able to adapt to each other’s needs and reach agreement quickly and easily. So by actively getting emotionally connected and regularly engage with your existing customers will only enhance the trust and loyalty you build with them.

Simply by reminding customers of when their vehicle’s MOT expires or of their next service due date is the minimum that any independent garage should be undertaking. Reminding them of specific campaigns such as winter checks or health checks if they are planning long journeys will reinforce that you care about them and keep them safe. By expanding this two-way communication with news of any success stories within the business, such as: charitable fund raising by the business or any employee, training & development that’s undertaken, new services/products introduced will reinforce to your customers that you want to build long term relationships with them.

This strategy will help you constantly create a small influx of new customers through recommendations as appose to constantly advertising for a field for new ones, you will also greatly improve the chances of providing and exceeding the high level of service they expect, because you will not be swapped with a high level of new customers rushing to take you up on those “come and get me offers”. Therefore, this promotes another selection of new clientele that hopefully continues the cycle and improves the long -term implications for continued growth. Your existing customers will become your advocates, your marketing angels.

Quite simply, customers are the organisations most important asset (along with staff too) without them, it cannot exist. To survive, prosper and possibly expand the business, the aftermarket business owner must continue to acquire new customers but more importantly must never neglect existing customers or take them for granted.

Constant database management will build-up trust and personal knowledge with your customers, which creates a far more effective customer retention tool, which in turn, will find you more gems in the form of customers that come back time after time.

You can find out about Savva’s consultancy services by visiting: savvaautomotive.com

USE REPEAT BUSINESS

Winning repeat or additional business from existing customers is far easier than constantly hunting for new business – although successful operations will do both.

Don’t think that contacting existing customers has to be an arduous or time-consuming exercise. These days there is software available to send a text message, email or even prepare a physical letter to send directly to your customer. Some garage management systems such as Motasoft or SWS GA3 provide a facility to send such reminders, so the reminders can be set up to be sent out in the future when the job is initially booked.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Garage NewsComments (0)

Advertisement
  • How the falling pound and metal prices will affect your business
  • CAT Awards winners announced in full
  • Maximise margins with air con parts

more info

    • Given rising costs, do you think the number of van runs from factor branches will decrease?

      View Results

      Loading ... Loading ...
    • Popular
    • Latest
    • Comments
    • Tags
    • Subscribe