More Meaningful Marketing, Part 7

We will continue with service marketing. Yesterday, we discussed how sales and the rest of the dealership can promote service and how service needs to be improved to enhance business now and in the future. This time, I will focus on what the service department can do to better promote themselves.

An old idea was to have a safety clinic, or maintenance clinic where customers and prospects were invited to come to the dealership for a hands on seminar of sorts about car care in one form or another. In my experience at dealerships, this event might have taken place once, but rarely twice. Yet, it is a good idea and it does require planning, communication and good execution. The other issue was getting people to show up. In simpler times, it was easier to stage an event like this and have plenty of people show up with some advertising. This is no longer easy and requires more thought and planning. But, there's hope:

Try a different, easier, more useful approach. Do your clinic on video. You can stage people at the taping to look like it was a real live event even. No advertising expense. Use that money for the video instead. The best part of this is that now you have a tool that can be used over and over and over again in a number of different ways. First, post it on your service website so people can just click on it and watch it any time they want 24/7. Next, post it on your dealerships YouTube site for the world to see. Next, you can email them to people or send them on CD's, give them away in memory sticks as a promotion and more. Now, you have a great reason to do a whole series of these videos as a service to the public and with each post in all the ways you post it, more people will see your service and see what you're doing and how cool you are to do things this way! Now you're a leader in the industry. You took an old idea and made it new and found a way to promote your services and your store all at the same time. How cool is that?

Next, now that you have your video team, take a great video of your service department and how clean it is and how well stocked your parts department is and how comfortable the waiting area is and all the other really cool features of your store. Post it on the web, YouTube and all the places that you put the other videos.

What about when people drive into service? What is that experience? Here's some ideas: serve Starbuck's or Peet's or Seattle's Best or other famous brand name coffee. Better yet, have a coffee bar so people can get their favorite latte or mocha. Give it away as a freebie or sell it for a flat fee. One young owner I worked for gave away USA Today to anyone in the service drive that wanted one. It was kind of classy I thought--just like the hotels do. Make it an experience that they will talk about to others. Think of it as advertising, then if it costs money, you can relate to the expense of it. Do some things that really create a buzz. Be really bold and do some things that are cool for the customer and get you noticed. The word will spread quickly and you will get more business quickly.

Here's another: Almost every service department has early bird service. Pretty much, it means nothing. Let's make it mean something by actually having early bird check in with people actually there to help them. You could do it once or twice a week where you open at 5:00am instead of 7:30am. I'm sure you can work out the scheduling if you want to. Advertise it. I think you might be surprised that some people would find that especially convenient and comfortable. And, of course, if you don't already, Saturday service is a must, even if you only have half the people of normal. You might find that Saturday is a better day than the others and expand even more. It is all about convenience.

Commercial. There is so much business to be had in the commercial arena. Even if you don't stock commercial trucks, it is a great business type to attract. These people really use their vehicles and they require service much more frequently and they want flexibility. I've seen dealerships built up dramatically by focusing here.

Mobile service, rental cars, courtesy shuttles, speed lube. There is so much that can be done. Pick the things that you think hold value for you and start some more meaningful marketing in service and parts today.

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