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Tuesday, 31 July 2007 17:00

Riding the winds of change: making new technology work for your shop

Written by Tom Franklin

“Fly upon the wings of the wind.” Psalms 18:10

In the early 1990s I went to work selling software for CCC Information Systems. I had been in marketing and sales most of my life, but I had never seen a product sell like CCC’s computerized estimating software. Shop owners practically lined up to buy CCC’s “Ezest” product. Mitchell and ADP also got in the game and enjoyed bountiful sales. What was the secret to their success?

Monday, 02 July 2007 14:22

Patience plays the biggest role in marketing and advertising returns

Written by Tom Franklin
Definition: impatience -- (1) The inability to wait patiently; (2) Annoyed because of a delay; uneasy, restless.
    John decided to spend some money on advertising and marketing for his shop. He ran ads in local publications and hired a marketing representative to distribute flyers and to offer donuts, flowers, pens and pads to agents, dealership principals, and other collision repair prospects. After three months he dropped the ads. He was annoyed. “They aren’t working,” he said. “We haven’t had a single call.” Six months later he fired the marketing representative. He hadn’t seen a single job from his investments.
    Recently a shop owner in my area was promoting his shop to several different types of prospects. They included some dealership principals, some insurance executives, and some local business owners. He knew he would have to invite each of these prospects to visit his shop at some point — not an easy task in the course of a busy week. Nearly complete vehicles had not been delivered yet and many new jobs were just being disassembled for repairs and refinishing. Ideally, he would like to have the shop in pristine shape to take even one of these prospects through.
Wednesday, 02 May 2007 10:56

Tapping into the referral source inherent in each new customer

Written by Tom Franklin
    Suppose every customer that brought a vehicle to your shop for repair brought along 10 more customers for you. As one customer became 10 and 10 customers became 100 and 100 became 1,000, you would soon be maxed out. Yes, this is a fantasy because every customer will not bring in 10 referrals. But even so, every customer is capable of many more potential referrals than 10 and it’s up to you to draw out those referrals.
Thursday, 05 April 2007 14:03

Inattention is the root cause of lost customers and profits

Written by Tom Franklin

Recently a local shop hired a very experienced estimator. Not only had she worked in many shops, but she had also worked as an independent appraiser and an appraiser for a major insurance company. One of her tasks was to check on the shop’s relationship with DRP directors and a local dealership, She was startled to discover relationships with a couple of the DRPs had soured a bit and the relationship with the dealership was all but lost.

 
"Begin with the end in mind."
        -- Stephen R. Covey

I have often been surprised by the creative approaches used by some shop owners to increase business. While just about everyone says they want more insurance work, I still find shop after shop that relies strictly on previous customers, word-of-mouth, and a good sign out front to bring in a few additional drive-by customers. Nevertheless, many of these tell me their business is continually dwindling and ask, what should they be doing? 

Are you stressed out? It could be said that stress is simply mis-directed energy. One shop owner struggles to shape-up a poorly performing body man instead of directing his full energy to getting a really competent worker and paying him well. 

There's a new buzzword among marketing professionals these days: "integrated marketing." Like most "new" ideas, it's been around for a long time but the focus has often been elsewhere. McDonald's is probably the best known for completely "integrated marketing." Their "golden arches" identity, along with the Ronald McDonald character give them an instant focal point of identity. Advertisements, stationery, website and all of the rest of their P.R. efforts capitalize on these recognizable characteristics to arrive at an integrated marketing strategy. 

Saturday, 01 December 2001 17:00

Marketing strategies for an economic downturn

Economic indicators were already falling and a recession was looming when the catastrophe with the planes hitting New York's World Trade Center added to our economic pain. I'm already seeing a major slow-down in many shops in my area. "Business-as-usual" can be deadly at a time like this. What should a shop owner be doing to counteract the impact of these world events on his or her business profits?