Your place of business can help create better customers through National Car Care Month activities.
A customer whos well informed about automotive maintenance is a better customer, which is why the aftermarket appreciates promotional efforts that educate motorists. The Car Care Council offers a valuable educational and promotional tool with its improved National Car Care Month Activity Planner, available online at www.carcare.org.
The new planner is full of innovative ideas to help stores get maximum mileage out of National Car Care Month, which will be next month. Whether participation is limited to on-hold telephone messages, or is as involved as vehicle check lanes, the Car Care Council has already completed much of the work for you.
"Our goal is to make participation in National Car Care Month easy and affordable, so every segment of the aftermarket can participate," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "These resources help make motorists more car care aware. The result is two-fold: better maintained vehicles and better customers."
From a Single Event
"Across the country, all segments of the aftermarket, from service providers to manufacturers, will be out in force with advertising and public relations activities designed to educate the consumer and drive business to the bays," White said.
The first National Car Care Month event took place in the early 1980s as an outgrowth of an Ohio Department of Energy (ODOE) event. Recognizing consumer awarness as a means of conservation, ODOE approached the Car Care Council seeking educational material for the news media. A single community event that year, which included vehicle inspection lanes, led to hundreds of events from coast to coast.
Traditionally held in October, National Car Care Month is now an April event. Research shows that the month of April resonates better with motorists. "With warm weather and vacations on the horizon, they are more eager to have their cars inspected and repairs or service performed," White said.
Seventy-seven percent of all vehicles brought through the check lanes during these events are found to be in need of repair or maintenance. Among failures noted in check lanes during the past five years: 27 percent had low or dirty engine oil; 23 percent had low tire pressure; 26 percent had inadequate cooling protection; 21 percent needed new belts; 17 percent had dirty air filters; and 11 percent had low or contaminated brake fluid.
These statistics translate into dollars and cents. A follow-up survey shows that, of the motorists who had their cars inspected at a vehicle check lane, 40 percent had some form of maintenance or repair performed. The average cost was $100 per car.
"Sixty billion dollars in parts and service go unsold each year. If 100 cars go through your check lane, you may be poised to retrieve $4,000 of previously unclaimed income," White said.
Choosing a Car Care Month Activity
From ad campaigns to vehicle check lanes, there are a number of ways for jobbers and retailers to make National Car Care Month work for them and their service provider customers. These are described at www.carcare.org. Simply click on National Car Care Month and go to the special section for "distributors," which includes activities for WDs, jobbers and program groups. These items have either been pre-written and/or pre-designed, and are ready to download. They include:
- Signage Includes bay banners and counter signs, and its all pre-designed.
- Telephone on-hold messages Educate customers while they wait with National Car Care Month on-hold messages.
- Incentives Encourage service provider customers with these ideas.
- Web banners Theres a great selection of web banners to add to any company website.
- Articles, ads and logos Theyre all here, ready for your print shop or newspaper to download.
- Cause-related marketing ideas Want to use National Car Care Month to help your favorite non-profit organization? Heres how.
- Brochures These two brochures (Under the Hood and Around the Car and Your 120,000 Mile Asset) are ready to print. Just give the printer your contact information and quantity.
- Consumer newsletter Its written, designed and ready to download. Simply call your printer with contact and coupon information.
- Vehicle check lanes The planner describes each step of this community-based, educational event, including meetings, partners/sponsors, volunteers, site selection and advertising/PR.
"With all of these options, it may be difficult to arrive at a decision," said White. "If you and your staff enjoy working with other businesses and organizations, a vehicle-check lane would be a good fit. If you favor a supporting role, offer incentives that encourage your service provider customers to take part in National Car Care Month, such as printing the new consumer newsletter. Think about printing banners, counter signage and brochures for these customers, as well as sponsoring radio spots and newspaper ads. In terms of your own store, lead by example. Use banners, brochures and on-hold messages throughout the month.
"Motorists need to be reminded that maintenance is less costly than repair. If we dont tell them, who will? National Car Care Month is the perfect soap box," he concluded.
For more information on National Car Care Month or the Car Care Council, visit www.carcare.org or call 240-330-1088.