Part II: How to generate more revenue
This article is a continuation of what was touched on in Bud Abraham's column featured in the June issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine.
The following is a suggested guideline of what can be done, utilizing the information provided in Part I, to generate more revenue at your detailing location.
Remember to adjust the timing for your area of the country.January
You can educate motorists about the need to remove dirt now to avoid fiber damage or tell them they need to protect the vehicle's paint during winter months with a wax coating.
January is a great time to book business and make appointments for spring as well as make personal sales calls to commercial businesses. If they are not ready, get permission to call them in March.
Mention that spring is a very busy time, so pre-booking is a good idea or, if they would like to beat the spring rush, they can save X percent by having the vehicle detailed in January or February.February
The same methods used in January should work for February.
Mail a postcard to existing customers stating the month's offers.March
This is the month to promote spring cleaning vehicles.
It's a great time to contact all of your referral sources and all the other automotive service businesses since their customers will be asking them where they can get a detail.
Offer these companies an incentive for referrals. It should get you quick business and guarantee that they will refer their customers to you.
Now is the time for a direct mail piece to your target markets and your previous customers. As stated, the best mailing is a personalized letter with an accompanying brochure.April
By now you should be busy. However, you should still keep marketing harder than ever.
The most important thing when you are busy is to make sure that your employees are well-trained and have an incentive to produce more work.
Try to get in every possible dollar from every detail. If you offer other services, sell them to every customer whose vehicle has a need.
This is also a good month to mail a postcard to existing customers with an incentive and a referral offer.
"Dear Customer — do you know that you will receive a free hand wash if you refer our detail service to friends and neighbors?"May
This is the time to focus on your referral sources.
Mail a postcard reminding your existing customers to detail now before they get too busy with summer activities.
May is the time to send out reminders that a detailing gift certificate is the perfect Mother's Day gift.June
The same mailing about a gift certificate for Father's Day can be sent saying:
"Give your husband the gift of a clean car for Father's Day."
Summer is a great time to detail a vehicle and you can promote the protection of leisure time as well as their investment.July
Try offering a special this month. With every exterior or interior detail booked give a complimentary paint sealant and fabric protectant on carpets and fabric seats.
Many people go on vacation in July, but a well-thought-out special can keep business in the shop.August
During August, most people are either on vacation, just coming home from vacation, or planning for school for their children.
Mail a postcard that reads:
"Too busy with end-of-summer activities? Let us take care of cleaning your vehicle for fall."September
Send a newsletter this month to educate customers on the need for detailing preparation on the vehicle for winter and throughout the winter.
Also contact your referral sources this month with the same message about winterizing the vehicle. Offer back-to-school specials and maybe a beat the holiday rush offer.October
Another postcard mailing or newsletter reminder about approaching winter weather and what it can do to the vehicle is good this month.November
You should be quite busy now, but don't stop. Send out another postcard mailing stating:
"We are very appreciative of your business and want to show our gratitude by offering you a free hand wash. Please call for an appointment."
That will bring them in, full of gratitude, and you can use that to sell other services the vehicle needs.December
This might be the final push of the year before things slow down in January and February.
Get a postcard mailing out early promoting Christmas gift certificates. These can bring you needed business during the next two months.
Once people get into the Christmas rush they don't think about detailing their vehicle. This is also the perfect time to visit your referral sources with gifts to build the relationships for next year.Basic marketing principles:
That which is measured improves: Just the act of measuring an activity makes you pay attention to it. As you make your marketing plan for 2006, decide to measure everything.
Talk to everyone possible about your business: You should print your business cards in large quantities and hand them out freely.
Give cards to sales clerks, customers, gas station attendants, business associates, such as your insurance agent, and most importantly, to your customers.
It's easier to get business from your existing clients than to find new ones: So many businesses spend a fortune searching for new customers while ignoring those that already know and trust them.
Your marketing must include an organized plan to contact your current customers.
Ask every customer for referrals: If you have provided your customer with a great cleaning experience they will normally be happy to provide you with referrals to their friends and family.
Market to the type of customer you would like to serve: Not identifying your target market is one of the most common and serious marketing mistakes a company can make.
R.L. "Bud" Abraham is president of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems, Portland, OR, and a 30-year member of the car-care industry. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.