Almost every dealership, regardless of the products you sell or services you offer, historically has a slow time of year. As we travel the country working with dealers, we have seen all sorts of great ideas come alive as they work to keep their businesses afloat during the slow season and start the year in the black.
One great way to keep a dealership busy (and profitable) during the slow season is the effective use of winter service specials. So, what is a winter service special and how do you make it worth your time & money?
Simply put, winter service specials are advertised events designed to bring work into your service department during the time of year that is typically slow. While this might vary a bit region to region, for most dealers this time is typically during the winter. A winter service special will normally be for a specific item at a packaged price. This accomplishes two goals. One, your customers can get their equipment ready for next season before the rush and, two, you have steady work coming into your shop.
We have had dealers across the country try this a few different ways, but it typically works best if you send out postcards about the special to everyone in your database who has purchased from you in the last 5 years.
About a week after sending out the mailer, have your parts people begin making follow up calls to each person you sent a postcard to. Their job is to simply see if the customer received the postcard and if the customer has any questions. It’s as simple as that.
It’s important to keep in mind that your parts people can only make a limited number of calls per day; so, balance the number of cards you send out each week with the number of calls your parts people can effectively make the following week. Your goal is to have the card in the hands of your customer a few days before the parts person makes the call.
While you may meet some resistance from your parts people about this, you know as much as we do there is down time at the parts counter and they are the perfect people to make calls on behalf of the dealership. Take some time and coach them on how to do this and work to make it fun! Perhaps reward them by bringing in pizza for lunch on Friday if they make X number of calls.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to keep this responsibility just at the parts counter; you are welcome to get the sales team involved as well. Having a profitable shop during the slow season keeps your customers coming in the door of your dealership and it’s a win for everyone.
Remember, like most things in business, it takes 2-3 years to get any program up and running and this includes creating an on-going customer demand for winter services. Some customers will jump right on the opportunity right away. For other customers, it might take a year or two before they decide to take advantage of your special offer, but, stick with it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
For more on the service department:
Service Basics: The Ribbon Process