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Getting Your Customers Car Care Aware


4/1/2004

National Car Care Month Offers Opportunities for April and Beyond
 

 

April brings more than just Spring showers. It's also National Car Care Month!

Last year, National Car Care Month moved to April, the month when car-care expenditures resonate best with consumers. National Car Care Month events are taking place around the industry and there's still time for your store or warehouse to get involved.

So far, the Car Care Council's public relations efforts have targeted television, radio, magazines, newspapers and websites, focusing motorists' attention on their cars' condition and safety. National spokespeople have taken to the television airwaves. National magazines, such as Parents, are providing lots of publicity, as will nationally syndicated radio shows, like Ask Heloise and The C.A.R. Show. The aftermarket's spotlight month also will be covered on MSNBC and a variety of other websites.

While all of this national activity is providing a solid promotional base for National Car Care Month, it's up to service providers, jobbers and WDs to make a difference on the local level. As with any promotional opportunity, those businesses that participate will be the businesses that reap the benefits. This has a double meaning for the local jobber, who stands to profit both from parts sold and by earning the loyalty of the service provider.

As a jobber, your first task is to decide how you can most successfully help local service provider customers during National Car Care Month. Consider their needs, and then consider how far you are willing to go in terms of time, money and product. Second, you must make service providers aware of National Car Care Month, the opportunities you are offering and how the activity can affect their bottom lines.

These decisions are made easier with several visits to the Car Care Council's website, www.carcare.org. Click on "industry," then sit back and take some time to get familiar with the site. From National Car Care Month activities to pre-designed consumer newsletters, the industry section offers an abundance of promotional opportunities. Become familiar with the programs and how they work. This knowledge will make you the expert on the Be Car Care Aware campaign and National Car Care Month, and customers will learn to depend on your expertise. Finally, support the campaign to make sure your customers' businesses are part of the "Find A Shop" locator. The Car Care Council works hard to drive traffic to the www.carcare.org website. That way business and media coverage can be sent to businesses represented in the locators. However, this can only happen with your support.

Until you can visit the site, here are a few ideas for both National Car Care Month and the Be Car Care Aware campaign participation.

 

  • National Car Care Month

    National Car Care Month is a vital part of the Be Car Care Aware consumer education campaign. It is designed to increase public awareness about the benefits of good vehicle maintenance and repair. Following are some easy ways to get your service provider customers involved.

     

  • Check Lanes

    If your service-provider customers are unfamiliar with National Car Care Month vehicle check lanes, help them organize their own in-house check lanes. This type of event is an effective way to participate in National Car Care Month on a small scale. When marketed correctly, the event not only brings current and new customers to the facility, it positions the shop as a local repair facility with a community spirit. Combine that with one-on-one consumer education and you have an effective promotion. Hosting an event in-house also allows for several vehicle checks that an off-site event cannot offer, such as brake checks and under car examination. Along with organizational help, perhaps you could secure promotional give-aways, signage, etc.

     

  • Press Releases

    Newspapers print lots of articles that they neither research nor write. Other people write the pieces and send them to the paper, hoping they'll "pick them up."

    Stores, too, can send written press releases, especially during April when National Car Care Month provides a specific "hook." The National Car Care Month Event Planner provides brief articles, such as National Car Care Month Stats Reveal That Your Transmission Could Be in Trouble and Self-Serve Gas Fuels Car Neglect. Automotive businesses are encouraged to download these and insert the owner or service manager's name as the quoted authority. This immediately positions them as the local expert. Additionally, sending these releases helps create a positive relationship with the media, letting them know about a proactive shop owner to whom they can turn for automotive information when needed.

    Finally, businesses owners should make copies of the release and put them on the counter. It's just one more way to push both National Car Care Month and the store's or shop's expertise.

     

  • Signage

    Bay banners, buttons and marquees are some of the best ways to alert passing motorists and customers about National Car Care Month. Chances are this signage will stimulate interest from a customer, creating a "teachable moment." Responding to a National Car Care Month inquiry, the service writer or counter pro might say, "National Car Care Month is our opportunity to put a special emphasis on the benefits of having scheduled maintenance and needed repairs performed." That opens to the door to discussion about 3,000-mile oil changes, transmission flushes or new air filters as they relate to safety, dependability and pride of ownership.

     

  • Be Car Care Aware

    Now in its second year, the Be Car Care Aware consumer education campaign is building awareness and knowledge, preparing consumers to make sensible decisions about their vehicles. National Car Care Month is part of this campaign effort. As awareness builds, consumers will take action, thus reducing vehicle neglect. Reversing unperformed maintenance will increase profitability in the aftermarket, conserve energy, improve highway safety and benefit the environment.

     

  • Starter Kit

    Whether you purchase it for them or simply encourage your customers to purchase them, the Be Car Care Aware Starter Kit is the best way for shops to become actively involved in the campaign. The kit is available for a $175 donation to the Be Car Care Aware campaign. As an added bonus, companies that donate to the campaign will be entitled to a listing in the "Find a Shop" or "Find A Store" locator on the www.carcare.org site.

    Additionally, it includes several items to promote National Car Care Month. Please note that upon receipt, kit orders are turned around within 48 hours.

     

  • Brochures

    Several brochures are available online to download and print. This is as easy as contacting your print shop, pointing them to the correct spot on the website and giving them the desired quantity. Making this type of educational counter literature available to your shops and customers is yet another inexpensive, loyalty-building opportunity. At the same time, it increases the shops' chances for sales. After all, it's easier for a service writer to sell scheduled maintenance if he/she has educational materials from a credible, third-party source available to explain the situation.

    The brochures currently available include: Your 120,000-Mile Asset, Under the Hood and Around the Car, and Brake System Diagram.

     

  • Car Care Chronicles

    Direct mail is one of the best relationship tools for service providers.

    Like the brochures, this free, pre-written, pre-designed customer newsletter is available from the Car Care Council online. With a section for a personalized coupon and contact information, it's easy to reproduce and tailor to your needs. Additionally, every article and photo can be replaced with the shop owner's own commentary if he/she is so inclined. The Chronicles are available quarterly with each issue focused on the upcoming season. It is posted online, approximately one month before the beginning of the next season.

Just a Fewp>

Of course, these ideas are only a few of the great promotional activities that the Be Car Care Aware campaign has to offer. Whether it's this month's National Car Care Month activities or programs that continue throughout the year, visit www.carcare.org and click on "industry." Your next big incentive promotion may be as close as your computer.

 

In the University of the Aftermarket Seminar on Maximizing Dealer Productivity, one of the important strategies to help installer customers survive and grow was to create a Customer Development and Retention program. Among the key points were:

 

  • Attracting new customers
  • Creating an advertising program
  • Participating in community activities
 

National Car Care Month and Be Car Care Aware programs offer ideas that assist in the important tasks listed above. Log on to www.carcare.org and explore the opportunities today.

 

Starter Kits

 

The "Be Car Care Aware" Starter Kit contents includes:
 

 

  • 1 Service Schedule Poster
  • 1 Service Schedule Countermat
  • 25/120,000-Mile Asset Handouts
  • 25 Around The Car Handouts
  • 1 Acrylic Plastic Handout Holder
  • 25 Service Schedule Mirror Hangers
  • 1 "Be Car Care Aware" Banner
  • 2 "Be Car Care Aware" Delivery Vehicle Door Decals
  • 1 "Be Car Care Aware" Delivery Vehicle Hood/Tailgate Decal
  • 1 "National Car Care Month" Poster
  • 1 "National Car Care Month" Banner
  • 1 "National Car Care Month" Inspection Form
 















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