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MAD about Marketing and ADvertising: Make sure you let consumers know about your automotive maintenance and repair services, too

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MAD about Marketing and ADvertising: Make sure you let consumers know about your automotive maintenance and repair services, too

Both Lake Region Discount Tire and Repair and Dolson Auto & Tire have tried different marketing and advertising strategies in their communities. Since both purchased stores already in operation, they both started with an established customer base.

Data mining their respective customer bases was their first step in building word-of-mouth advertising. They say every time they invest in a referral program, it pays dividends in new customers.

Best Practices: Marketing

If your tire dealership is new or just starting to offer full automotive services, you will need to work harder than an established store, according to dealers. You must invest in getting your company known and make unique offers to get people in the first time. Here are three interesting marketing activities that will help you get the word out.

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1. Community organization marketing. Offer "not for profit" groups a way to help their fundraising by donating a small percentage of net sales by customers. A simple two-part coupon makes sure all parties are satisfied that commissions earned are paid.

2. Consumer vehicle awareness programs. Teach men, women and teenagers the basics of vehicle care and maintenance.

Advertise these classes in the local media and hold them at your dealership on Sunday or evenings when the store is normally closed. You would be surprised how effective they are -- and how willing many of your suppliers are to assist you with technical support and co-op money.

3. Support local sports leagues. Sponsor little league baseball, soccer, football and other teams in the community. But you must do the follow-up work to make sure the league members come in for a visit.

Best Practices: Advertising

Both Lake Region Discount Tire and Repair's Mike Lofstedt Sr. and Dolson Auto & Tire's Ed Perry say they quickly determined that while radio and cable television advertising is efficient for multi-store operations, a single store can't afford to waste money on audiences outside their community.

Local newspaper advertising proved more useful, despite showing little direct response in sales for their investment and co-op money. Both do seasonal automotive service advertising.

They advertise twice weekly, but don't advertise prices or service specials. They concentrate on promoting their dealership names.

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Best Practices Tips: It’s in the mail

Ed Perry of Dolson Auto & Tire is planning to give a free gift to all customers who send in a referral. The cost would be somewhere in the $5 to $10 range, certainly far less than the worth of a new customer.

This offer will be made in a direct mail piece. Business cards will be included so customers can give them out to their friends. (They will be coded to the customer, making verification a snap.)

Mike Lofstedt Sr. of Lake Region Discount Tire and Repair is always working with his database to find ways to increase sales through existing customers. He sends out special coupons to loyal customers who make referrals to their friends.

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