Packing up the car and heading off to college is a fall rite of passage for many American families. It also presents a number of great opportunities for your parts store as well as your repair shop customers.
Whether your customers’ kids are in grade school, college or somewhere in between, chances are those parents will be racking up a lot of extra miles during the school year. School drop-off and pick-up, parent-teacher conferences, sports practices and music lessons are just a few of the things that add extra wear and tear to the family truckster.
Fall also brings about one of two annual designated National Car Care months (one in October, the other in April), when the industry steps up its game to educate motorists on the critical importance of regular vehicle maintenance. The Car Care Council offers a number of resources to help parts stores and repair shops communicate this message to their customers, including an industry toolbox with promotional materials, car care guides to give customers and tips on hosting a car care event.
Not only does it generate goodwill among the community when you host a fall car care clinic or offer your customers a handy vehicle “back-to-school” checklist, but it also provides an opportunity to increase sales on regular maintenance items.
The Car Care Council, in conjunction with AutoNetTV, has produced a new video that discusses the “Five-Point Checkup” that should be performed by vehicle owners before the start of the school year. Use this a guide for your customers as well.
- Check lights and wipers for better visibility
- Perform a complete brake inspection.
- Check tires for under-inflation or excessive wear.
- Make sure seat belts and car seats are fitted and positioned properly.
- Consider installing a backup detection device.
“Back-to-school time is a time when there is a lot of attention is paid to the condition of the vehicles that will be driven by the parents taking their child back to school or the vehicles that the student will packing up and driving back to school,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “So this seasonal and timely subject is an ideal time for the Car Care Council to communicate tips and advice via press releases, op-eds, social media, website content and media interviews. Equally important is for the council to provide this consumer content to stores and repair shops to repurpose in their own marketing and promotional materials to customers.”
You can view the video on YouTube or watch below. It’s also available in the ANTV digital management system for repair shops to share with their customers.
Vehicle owners might be getting the message. According to the 2018 AASA Automotive Aftermarket Status Report, which will be released in early September, unperformed and underperformed maintenance has gone down in the United States. The association says the number decreased sharply from $73.3 billion in 2015 to $55.4 billion in 2016. (Unperformed maintenance is in end-consumer dollars and includes parts and labor.)
Try Seasonal Messaging
While your customers are checking school supplies off their shopping lists, remind them to keep their vehicle maintenance checklist in mind as well. And your checklist for staying top-of-mind with customers should include utilizing social media and mobile technology.
David Bry, an automotive diagnostic consultant with ALLDATA, recommends reaching out to customers with seasonal messaging via text or email using your shop’s CRM (customer relationship management) software, like that found in ALLDATA Manage Online. “As their trusted automotive service expert, you have the opportunity to provide them with guidelines for their child’s use of the car – which could also potentially build stronger customer relationships,” Bry says.
Before They Leave for College
ALLDATA offers a number of tips for customers whose college-bound kids are taking a family vehicle with them. The downloadable PDF encourages parents to make sure their wayward students can:
- Check the oil level.
- Check and replenish the coolant level.
- Locate the spare tire and use/locate the tire tools.
- Check all lights and activate the hazard flashers.
- Recall all procedures for jump-starting (only to be used when emergency road service isn’t available).
- Know where to locate the owner’s manual and how to find information in it.
- Sync phones or any Bluetooth devices to your car’s infotainment system.
Parts pros and repair shops can help by pointing your customer to a trustworthy home-away-from-home for the car’s service needs. You might know someone or use industry information sources to locate a shop in the new locale.