For a majority of US based auto body shops, even the ones in the southeast, the winter Holiday season means inclement weather, which always leads to more cars at the shop. However, just like with any sales, it is not what you are selling today that leads to continued success, it is all about what you are doing today to make sales for tomorrow. Don’t let the bountiful business you are experiencing now keep you from planting sales seeds for the next few months, if work should slow down.
Unsure of what kind of seeds you should plant? Not to worry; we here at AutoBody-Review.com are always ready to keep you updated on how to build a better business for your shop. Here are five ideas that you could easily adopt for your shop:
1. Hold a philanthropic contest
One body shop that we know of is currently sponsoring a social media contest where you can nominate a family in need for a "Christmas Miracle". The body shop will select a family and award them a $500 gift card. This can easily be adapted to your body shop for very little cost. You might even consider donating the deductible on some much-needed repairs for a family in need, whose vehicle is damaged, unsafe, or currently out of commission due to an accident.
2. Participate in a toy or clothing drive
Three years ago, Marco’s Collision Centers, now Service King, orchestrated a food and clothing drive at all of their shops, getting their customers involved with the holiday. You can do that, too!
Probably one of the most recognized holiday donation programs next to the Salvation Army bell ringers is Toys for Tots. The nice thing about this program is that you can hold your own drive and bring in your collected toys to a Toys for Tots donation center. I have seen auto body shops post this on their social media accounts, and even place a large, wrapped box in their waiting area for people to leave their donations. This works great with customers who are currently doing business with your shop, or are thinking of choosing your shop. People want to do business with companies that they feel are making a difference. But don’t just stop at customers! Encourage your staff to get involved as well. It's a feel good contest for everyone involved with little to no cost. Click here for more information about participating in Toys for Tots.
3. Gift cards or discounts on future services with purchase
Have you ever considered doing a gift card during the holidays? Once the spike in business goes away after the winter months are over, it might be a while before you get some cars into your shop. What if a family member could pay their deductible for them via a gift card to your business? Or perhaps a customer might have other damages not covered by the insurance claim. A discount card, or gift card with purchase could keep them coming back after the Holiday rush.
4. Send Holiday cards to past customers
Tap into your Ghost of Christmas Past, and reach out to some old customers. It is easy for any shop using an estimating system, or a customer database to pull a list of past customers together. We know that the industry average is seven and a half years between accidents. Why not send out a holiday post card mailer to some old customers (going back seven years or more)? The cost is relatively small. Services such as Vistaprint can print and mail out 1,000 cards for just $475.00! Stay fresh in your former customers’ minds while they are driving this winter. You might just drive in some unexpected return business to your shop. Click here to check out Vistaprint’s Holiday greeting cards!
5. Get your staff into the Holiday Spirit!
Holidays are stressful for everyone, including your staff. So while you are still conducting your daily auto body business, take some time to remind your staff what a great organization you are, and reward them for their year-round efforts. The renewed spirit will carry over to your customers, which makes for the best marketing. It could be as simple as having your front desk personnel wear Santa hats, or maybe even have a Santa Claus come to the office with gifts for everyone. These could be a gift card, a small box of chocolates, or even a surprise Christmas bonus. Have him come either during regular business hours, or during the office’s Christmas party.
Now you have five simple ways to turn the stresses of the Holidays into a positive for your business – now, and for the next several months.
All of us at AutoBody-Review.com wish you a happy holiday!