• October 15, 2021 at 2:29 pm #121662

    I remember the excitement of a Christmas long ago, when my sister was home for the holidays for the first time in several years. She had married an U.S. Army man and had been traveling all around the country. Prior to the visit, we learned that she would be moving within driving distance of our home in Indiana. My dad was elated. A Christmas miracle! She was clearly his favorite and now he would be able to see his baby girl on a regular basis. The problem was, his baby girl’s car was in need of new tires, the only part of the car that her very handy hubby could not repair himself or afford to replace – especially with the first grandchild on the way. Another Christmas surprise.

    The solution was easy for my dad. He bought her a gift certificate at the dealership in her area, so that she could get a new set of tires put on her car. When my sister opened this gift on Christmas morning, she cried. Instantly, we all thought that maybe she was disappointed with such a gift. But before anyone could say a word, she blurted out that now she could come home more often. She did not see the gift as just a set of tires, she saw it as the gift of getting to spend more time with her family.

    I share this story, because I feel too many service centers do not see what they have to offer as an attractive Christmas gift. As a result, they don’t offer any promotions during the busiest time of the year for retail sales. I think this is wrong and I think service centers are missing out on a huge opportunity. When you consider how easy it is to create a quick email, text, or advertisement, it is crazy not to offer Christmas promotions to your customers. In addition, by creating some type of “Holiday Special” you give your service team something new to talk about. If you do this, conservatively, at least one in fifteen customers will purchase something that you are offering.

    What follows are five gift suggestions that you could begin promoting today:

    1. Gift certificate: To make it simple for your customers, I suggest you give them dollar amount options – $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,500. These could be redeemed for any product, service, or repair that you offer.

    2. Extended service warranty: This could be a service of great value to your customers. I actually gave one of these to my stepdaughter for Christmas. She was overjoyed, since her factory warranty was about to expire, and she seemed very concerned about that. She has told me many times how much she appreciated that gift. It allowed her to drive the vehicle for an additional three years, worry free.

    3. Stocking stuffers: These could include things like an oil change or two. Customers like free oil changes, and since you would not be the one giving the free oil change, it is a win-win situation.

    4. “Under-the-tree” gifts: A one, two, or three-year maintenance plan would fit nicely into this category. This is a gift that we have given to our college aged kids and have seen others do as well. I do have to admit that on this one, the college-aged gift receiver was not overjoyed by the gift. But it gave mom and dad piece of mind in knowing that when the kids were hundreds of miles away from home, they would have a safe and well-maintained vehicle.

    5. Car wash and full detail service: I have personally given this gift to several different people over the years and it is always a big winner. Who doesn’t like a clean vehicle? Nothing makes an older car look and feel new again, like a full detail service.

    As you can see, I am encouraging you to go big with your holiday promotions. We are living in a very unique time. We are witnessing customers who are more concerned and invested in their vehicles, at a level not seen since the 1970’s. These gift ideas are just that, ideas. You can decide exactly what type of offer will resonate with your customers, but at most, I would offer the big stuff with a 5 to 10 percent discount. And that is only, if you feel like it’s truly necessary.

    To help offset or add to some of your offers, I suggest getting your suppliers involved and asking for relief on their fees. I know that most of your suppliers will be highly supportive and enthusiastic about the idea of gift promotions that involve their products.

    Although this message is coming to you six days into the biggest gift giving month of the year, you still have time to act. Putting together a quick ad to be used for your websites, email, and texts, can be done in a matter of hours, if not minutes. It can be sent out even faster. In fact, if you need help with this, give us a list of the offers you want to include, and we will help you create an online message. We will also assist you in creating a special service gift menu for your team to present to your customers. In addition, I can even provide you and your staff with the needed word tracks to use with your customers that will result in a high closing ratio in this area.

    So far this year, American consumers are setting records in the amount of Christmas gifts being purchased and dollars being spent. Most experts agree that the spending will stay on that track this month, right up to Christmas and will likely last through the week after Christmas.

    The year 2020 can certainly be described as unprecedented and “unique” to say the least. You can continue the trend and make this Christmas unique by trying something new that has been proven to work by the few who have tried it in the past. There is no risk involved. You are providing an opportunity for your customer to kill two birds with one stone. Your customer wins by getting their vehicles serviced and purchasing Christmas gifts that are truly useful. It’s one less thing for them to have on their to-do list and one less stop to make. You win because you get a few more sales and will have the gift recipient coming into your service department. This means new business for you. Tis’ the season for giving and receiving. There’s still time. Let’s go big!!

    Jeff Cowan – [email protected]

    [email protected]

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