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Keep in touch with your detail customers

January 19, 2011
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Most of your customers don't remember you. One simple way to make your business unforgettable.

"We'll be back!" I used to hear this a lot from happy customers. Very few followed through on that promise, though. It wasn't that my customers didn't want to spend the money, or were too busy to get their other cars detailed...they had simply forgotten that my company existed. Let's be candid: Car detailing is not a high priority in our customers' lives.

I found a solution to this "forgetfulness" problem with email. By staying in touch with my customers monthly via email, repeat business improved 300%.

You must have a plan to capture your customers' email addresses. Every new customer at my shop filled out a check in form that asked for their name, phone number, and email address. Here's the form, editable in Microsoft Word format.

About 80 percent provided their email address. Once a week, I took my stack of check in forms, logged into (my online email marketing company), and entered this data into my customer database.

Once a month, I sent out an email to my customer base. The emails were rarely sales oriented. Instead, I would give them basic car maintenance tips, maybe profile a new detailer we hired, or share pictures of particularly graphic detail jobs...the kinds of things you might share with a friend. Occasionally I would insert a coupon or special deal on gift certificates during the holidays (amazing at producing immediate sales during slow times).

Only a few customers ever unsubscribed from my list. The rest...even if they immediately deleted my email that month, at least gave my company some thought if only for a brief second. Twelve times a year, my customers were reminded that I exist. And inevitably, their car badly needed a detail at the time they clicked on one of these emails, and they immediately called or emailed to book a job.

Offering quality work alone is not enough to get the repeat business you're after. You must have a plan to remind your customers monthly that you're there for them, and email marketing has made this critical tactic easy and affordable ($10 - $20 a month depending on which service you choose).

Robert Keppel has built successful detailing businesses in Portland, OR and now builds websites exclusively for automotive reconditioners at

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