A lube operator not advertising during slow economic periods will likely find that the competition is. What often separates one lube shop from another is its creative marketing strategies. Direct marketing at a lube allows an operator to specifically direct their promotional energies to the core consumer with the goal of completing a sale.
Marketing programs at lubes should be powerful and creative. Here are some ideas to breathe new life into some old marketing approaches.
1) Reminder cards
Jiffy Lube sends out a reminder card to its customers at 65 days – 150 days if overdue – said Jackie Rea, marketing manager, Virginia Lube, Inc., franchisee of Jiffy Lube. These reminder cards have a discount offer to entice the customer to service their car.
Be creative with recall cards: Combine them with a scratch and win game; have the customer bring in the recall card and drop it in a drawing box for the opportunity to win something, like a free oil change every month for a year.
2) New resident programs
New homeowner – welcome-wagon – programs give you the chance to greet a new resident in your area with a discounted trial offer to your lube. When the new customer visits the lube, make sure that employees recognize the individual as being new to the neighborhood. Have the welcome package contain a map of the area, car air freshener and a VIP-type card to the lube center.
3) Seasonal post cards
During the summer months and holidays, people usually travel more often; therefore, an operator’s marketing should focus on the services people need to keep their cars running safely during these times.
Some services that could be offered during these times include:
• Coolant checks;
• Fluid checks; and
• Tire pressure checks.
4) Ladies day
Since women make up more than half of the population; target them as a potentially lucrative market? Try having a ladies day. Put a banner in front of your shop that advertises a discount oil change for female customers.
5) Early morning discount
If business is slow during a certain time of the day you should give customers an incentive to come in for service at that time. If early morning is the slowest time of the day, try offering a special discount for customers, and throw in coffee and pastries.
6) Door hangers
Have a contest where employees pass out door hangers in their neighborhood promoting the quick lube. The hangers should be an invitation from the employee and contain special discounted offers so that customers feel compelled to visit. The employee that brings in the most customers wins a prize; in addition, the customer that the employee brings in could have a chance to win a free oil change.
Increase business by partnering with another business, such as a carwash or other car care facility, and do cross-promotional efforts. One thing Jiffy Lube has done in the past was to partner with Papa John’s Pizza. They supplied them with pizza box-topper flyers that contained both Jiffy Lube coupons and Papa John’s Pizza coupons, said Rea.
8) Back to school
If you are in a college town, then college students are a prime market for your oil change business; but up-selling is a challenge. Despite this, they are an extremely valuable market and one that should not be disregarded. There are many different advertising opportunities on university and college campuses to participate in – school newspapers, student hand books, coupon books, radio, etc.
Whatever direct marketing an operator actually does, they will want to make sure that the message is clear, concise and creative. The goal of any marketing campaign is to create “top-of-mind awareness,” according to Rea. Rea advocates doing whatever is necessary to keep an operator’s name on the customer’s mind. An operator should keep the customer aware of the exceptional service that the lube provides, and make sure that idea is reinforced in everything the lube does.
Ron Beverly is president and chief idea generator of Vision Marketing, Inc., Lynchburg, VA, which provides marketing products and solutions for the carwash and oil change industry, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above article was originally submitted to Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine in September 2003.