A difficult trading environment to navigate
Following the Covid-19 outbreak the aftermarket faces a difficult period. The government’s decision to extend MoT’s due from 30 March onwards by 6 months is likely to reduce the number of tests taken this spring and summer, along with revenue from any essential repairs arising from the MoT itself.
In these uncertain times customers may also be tempted to skip their regular service, particularly with job security and future incomes under threat. However, what’s unlikely to change is their desire to be driving a safe and reliable car.
Why not offer a Free Vehicle Inspection to drive revenue?
A Free Vehicle Inspection enables your customers to ensure their vehicle is safe, with the potential to provide revenue from any urgent repairs or maintenance. For instance, previous research from Yuasa suggests that in normal circumstances 1 in 10 cars require a new battery, whilst past research from Comma showed almost half of all cars are low on oil. These are just two potential sources of revenue that a free vehicle inspection would identify.
Lockdown woes cause maintenance issues
The lockdown represents another reason your customers should be keen for their vehicle to be checked. An extended period of infrequent use, such as during the current lockdown, can have an adverse effect on many components.
Without proper care over time batteries can discharge, brakes may seize, tyres can develop flat spots and under bonnet fluids can degrade. The longer the lockdown continues, the greater the risk of component damage.
Download a Free Vehicle Inspection Sheet
The Parts Alliance have developed a free Vehicle Inspection Sheet, which can be downloaded below.
The checklist enables technicians to review a range of components including: tyres; brakes; lights; wiper blades; under bonnet fluids; battery and oil level. The condition of the various components can be marked red, amber or green, with those marked red requiring urgent attention. There’s also space on the sheet to provide an estimate for any remedial work.
Following this Free Vehicle Inspection Sheet can provide customers the peace of mind that their vehicle is roadworthy or highlight issues that require urgent attention.
Social Banners to promote this offer!
The Parts Alliance have produced a range of banners that can be used on your Facebook page and other social platforms. You can download these for free, should you choose to offer this service to your customers. See below for download link.
Free Vehicle Inspection Sheet
Provide your customers with peace of mind that their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition.
Social banners to promote this offer!
Promotional banners that can be used on your Facebook page and other social platforms.
Marketing in the traditional sense is not particularly top of our mind as we struggle to come to terms with what’s happening personally and to our businesses. However, there are tips we can share on marketing activity you can undertake during Covid-19.
Short-term marketing is typically for 3 months. Whilst we hope its sooner, many experts believe this is the timeframe we’re facing before life returns to a semblance of normality. Through this quieter trading period, there’s plenty of marketing activities garages can consider and implement.
Focus on your existing customers
Whether you remain open or closed, think about how to stay connected with your customers
- Let them know if you’re intending to stay open.
- Inform them why you are open or indeed closed.
- Remind them about the essential services that you can provide and why they are still needed.
Many of your most loyal customers may be keen to support your business during the coronavirus outbreak, so ensure they know you remain open if that’s the case. By keeping them informed, you remind them of your business and why they’ve used you in the past.
Additionally, whilst MoT’s have been extended by 6 months, it’s important your customers appreciate their car must still be roadworthy. In particular key workers will still be regularly using their cars and these should be safe to drive.
How to Communicate
Now is the time to embrace all means of communicating, not just traditional marketing to keep connected. These include:
- Social Media
- Traditional Post
Clear communication is key in times of crisis, but it should always be relevant to the audience and useful to them.
Social media is one of the easiest means to keep connected and so now is the time to embrace Facebook if you haven’t done so already. Facebook posts are quick to create and most of your customers will be regular users of this social media giant.
Emails are a good means to get a direct message to your customer, whilst it’s good practice to review your website and update with any key messages during this time. Finally, for a more personal communication traditional mail is a good option – a letter is likely to be opened and read.
Social Media Tips
This is not a master class, but we will touch on some basic tips for those that haven’t previously used social media much. Firstly, Facebook is the most used and the only one you need to focus on.
- Use Facebook
- Quality rather than quantity
- Link into the local community via their Facebook pages
- Provide tips and guidance
- Use unique online offers.
- We have created a selection of useful banners that you can use on Facebook – click here to download.
If you have a good email list and it is GDPR compliant (more on this later) then email is an ideal method for contacting your customers directly. Emails are relatively cheap and easy to produce and can be customised to different customers. If you intend to send a lot then it is best to use an email platform, such as Mailchimp.
To improve the effectiveness of your emails, they should be:
- Relevant to your customers.
- Tailored to the individual and what they will need to know.
- Easy to read – friendly, simple and to the point.
- Timely – don’t overdo, no one likes too many emails.
- GDPR compliant, so follow the correct rulings regarding GDPR, which essentially means only emailing customers that are eligible (opted for emails or legitimate interest) and being transparent with the data you hold and why you hold it. Finally having a good opt-out option. More can be found about GDPR on the ICO’s website.
What to talk about:
With so much happening it is hard to have all the answers, but there is still a lot you can communicate to your customers. We have pulled together a few examples, if you have some other ideas please share with us and your fellow garages.
With MOT’s from March 30 onwards being extended for 6 months, some vehicles won’t receive an MOT for 18 months. You could update your customers on the fact that any vehicle on the road still needs to be roadworthy and safe.
Contactless Collection and Drop Off
If you have the means, providing a contactless collection and drop off service is a great service to provide during the current Covid-19 outbreak. This involves picking your customers vehicle from an agreed location, completing the work and then returning it back, whilst observing social distancing. Credit card payment can be taken remotely, with the receipt/invoice included in the vehicle or sent separately.
Safety and Car Clean Down
We all know the interior is not always the cleanest area, so staff and customers need to be protected at this time. It is important to note and inform your customers on what precautions you are taking, cleaning the car on collection and cleaning after work carried out and what PPE your staff are wearing throughout. We have a poster and handy checklist on this at www.ThePartsAlliance.com/covid-19
Free Safety Check
For those customers intending to delay their MOT following the government extension, why not offer them a free visual check, that covers all the essentials? Naturally this won’t be as thorough as an MOT, but it could identify any issues that need addressing and provide your customers with peace of mind until their next MOT. An example visual inspection sheet can be downloaded here
If customers are tightening their purse strings, you could offer them 0% finance through a provider such as Auto Service Finance, so they can spread the cost of any service and maintenance work. We have the option to link you with ASF which would allow you to offer your customer 0% finance to pay their bill.
Parts Alliance Business Support: https://www.thepartsalliance.com/covid-19/
Mailchimp Email Marketing Platform: https://mailchimp.com/
Electronic mail marketing & GDPR: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/
ASF 0% Finance Expression of Interest Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeFs5m9mCb7eaR0Aj2rvextGuERRZSwFdxhztLi6Ny_mbHT7Q/viewform