Automotive Marketing Solutions – Getting To Know Your Customer

In any mechanical workshop, profitability is helped by getting your Labour to work as many hours as they are paid and making sure that these hours are billable hours, by that I mean, that they can be charged directly to the customer and recovered in full.

To help bill more hours you need to know your customer well.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to collect data and store it in some type of database.

Originally databases were simple pads, notebooks or 3 x 5 cards and details such as Name, Address and details of the vehicle were all that was needed.

But in today’s high tech world where the customer is viewed as King or Queen, it is vital that workshops not just collect as much information about their customers’ needs but also to have the ability to analyze this information.

Databases nowadays have moved from simple notebooks and 3 x 5 cards to software packages like Act and Goldmine with even more sophisticated programs being custom built in SQL and Microsoft Access.

So what does this mean to the average Automotive Repairer?

Well lots, if you don’t know your customer, you cannot anticipate their needs!

If you can’t anticipate their needs, then you will not be at the Top of Their Mind when they have a need to think about their car.

Being Top of Mind is about collecting and analyzing the right data so that you are able to put an action plan together – a ‘Marketing’ Action Plan.

Given the reliability of vehicles and the continuing reduction in operating costs surrounding vehicle ownership, it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain a business based on Parts Failure or Vehicle Breakdown.

Even the move towards building a business based on vehicle servicing is now less viable, given the length of time now recommended by manufacturers between services.

And when this is coupled to the relative cheapness of vehicle ownership in real dollar terms, it is obvious that being in business today is not about just repair and maintenance it is about – the relationship.

Now I hear you asking “ok, so what information do I need to collect and how do I use it?”

Grab a pen and let me suggest some automotive marketing ideas:

  • Their First and Surname separated so that you can personalize their letters or any mail merges that you wish to send
  • Their vehicle make, model and registration number so that you can mail them any articles that relate to their vehicle, perhaps a vehicle safety recall, or advise them about any valuations that they may have asked for as they may have been thinking of trading in their vehicle.
  • Perhaps you can collect the date that their Registration sticker expires. Post them a reminder say three weeks before it expires and include the address of their nearest Licensing Center. Or you could advise any BPay or Direct Credit facilities that the Government Department has.
  • You could also collect the name of their spouse and find out if he or she owns a car. You’re obviously looking at ways that you can get this other car in for servicing as well.
  • What about storing the year, make and model and getting a quote for insurance.
  • Write to them a few weeks away from when you want to get their car back for servicing and give them a range of insurers and some indicative quotes. Naturally you would do well to confirm their age and no claim bonus track record and any relevant history, if that is at all possible.

So, as you can see. There is more to getting to know your customer than just saying “Hi, how ya doing?”

Well, till next time remember that “The Power of an Idea is in its Implementation”. It is no good just listening to these ideas. It is about applying them.

If you are getting the same results year after year, then consider getting a coach or meet with your accountant on a regular basis.

Currently I work with clients across Australia, in the UK and in the USA. So distance should not be viewed as a barrier.

The most important thing about your business adviser is that they help you – get your business to its next level.

If this means that they are demanding then view this as a good sign, if they are pushy then again this is a good sign.

Before I go, ask yourself two questions:

1. “Could my business be more profitable?” and if the answer is Yes, then the second question is

2. “What do I need to do to get it there?”.

If you want to know about the Business Doctor or the automotive marketing solutions and coaching that I provide please visit my website and hear what some of my clients say about what it is that they have gotten from engaging a business coach.

So, till next time – I wish you all the success that you can handle whilst holding a genuine smile.

Automotive Telematics Deliver a Brave New Ride

It’s Saturday, which means you have chores to do. You jump in your minivan and turn the ignition. Without being told, your favorite song is cued, your seat is automatically heated to your preferred temperature, and you are reminded of about how many miles you can drive until you need gas. “Oh,” you think, “I’ll get gas first.” With the touch of a button, your navigation system shows your current location and the price of gas at the five nearest gas stations.

Welcome to the world of telematics and the new wave of automotive in-car technology that’s quickly finding its way into our vehicles.

Telematics is deeply embedded hardware, software and telecommunications systems that provide an increasingly wide range of applications that serve our vehicles. These applications can enable safety, security, monitoring of vehicle health and remote diagnostics services. For the driver and passengers, telematics systems can provide dynamic location-based services such as navigation, traffic information, emergency assistance and a suite of other driver services based on two-way connectivity.

The icing on the cake is the idea of bringing the Internet to your vehicle. Automakers are working with Web companies to devise ways of connecting this technology intelligently, and advertisers are ready to jump on board and make it cost-effective, all to integrate your vehicle into the connected world.

Today’s vehicles are already providing a glimpse of what lies ahead. Many already have their own personal computer, their own cell phone and a display monitor. Add a keyboard or touch pad in-dash and the possibilities are endless. It all depends on how much information about yourself you are willing to provide. Data such as your blood type, favorite restaurants and even the stocks you own can prove useful. Ultimately, you will be able to tell your vehicle what you want it to do and when. Want an alert sent to your cell phone if your vehicle alarm goes off? Want to let your significant other know if your airbag has been deployed? Want to know when you’re driving by your favorite coffee shop? Easy to do; your vehicle will be as smart as you let it be.

Global automakers are working toward making telematics the core of the connected vehicle, and they have a strong incentive to integrate this technology as quickly as possible. The competition from connected mobile devices has clearly acted as a very powerful stimulant. Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) and smart phones are grabbing the consumer’s fancy, and navigation systems are on a lot of wish lists.

PND manufacturers are heavily reliant on sales and are aiming their brand of navigation as a service product. As more devices have navigation capabilities, it won’t be about the hardware but about the service – something that provides two-way communication and lends itself to the consumer’s lifestyle.

Even automakers are realizing that it’s the suite of services that will help them achieve success. The wireless mobile and wireless automotive communities are fighting tooth and nail to win consumers’ hearts and minds.

One industry that is highly interested in telematics is the insurance industry. As more in-car technologies become available, automotive insurers have the opportunity to collect driver data with as much or as little granularity as they desire. They can monitor vehicle location, speed and driving times, or they can collect data on specific, narrowly defined events, such as hard braking. With better underlying data and the accompanying ability to price risk more accurately, insurers can roll out new types of products, often targeted at customers previously considered uninsurable. Information collected in the vehicle can also be used during the claims process. The overwhelming obstacle is the business issue of cost.

This is where advertisers are chomping at the bit to jump on board. Enabling these systems in your vehicle carries a cost, whether it’s a monthly subscription based on usage or a flat fee, and bringing advertisers into your vehicle can lower the cost considerably. So whenever you download a movie into your vehicle for the kids to watch on the next trip, it’s likely to be sponsored by an online movie provider. A major quick lube company will gladly make arrangements for your next scheduled oil change.

Advertisers also see the value of “knowing where you’re going” as a valuable customer relationship management tool. Remember those Saturday chores? Heading to a home improvement store? A telematics- equipped vehicle offers advertisers sophisticated, location-based options never before available. It’s all about capturing a consumer when they’re ready to make a decision. Let your system know you’re going to a home improvement store, and you get a quick glimpse at a discount being offered by one of the major chains. Once your vehicle is detected going to that location, the incentive is activated. You get something in return for sharing your data. Advertisers love that.

Automotive AC Machines

As any mechanic knows, the ability to offer a comprehensive service to customers, being able to offer repairs and care for all aspects of a motor vehicle maintenance program is key to being able to retain customers. Air Conditioning is more or less standard across all models these days, and while in the past, AC maintenance was a highly skilled and niche market, it is now an essential side of the business and key to any workshop’s continued success.

In order to ensure that refrigerant is recovered properly from a car’s air conditioning system during servicing, a workshop must use an automotive AC machine. These devices prevent the release through venting of CFC gases. EPA guidelines require that when a car is being serviced, the Freon, or CFC12 that is used as the coolant should be collected and recycled in order that it is not released into the environment where it can potentially damage the ozone layer.

The refrigerant used in most motor vehicle air conditioning systems is based on chlorofluorocarbons, which have been linked with causing damage to the ozone layer, and as such, the control of these substances is of particular concern to the environmental protection agency. Whenever a car air conditioning system undergoes maintenance, proper care must be taken to protect the environment from the release of CFCs, and this is best done by using automotive AC Machines.

By reusing Freon gas rather than allowing it to be vented into the atmosphere, the environment is protected. However, when the refrigerant is collected from a car’s air conditioning it can be contaminated with water, oil and any of the other liquids that are used in cars. By using automotive AC machines, it is possible to process the refrigerant and remove any of the other fluids from it, allowing it to be reused, either in the same system as it has been drained from, or alternatively, in another car altogether.

There are a whole range of different refrigerant recovery machines on the market to suit all types of workshop, from small operations through to large commercial garages that deal with many different types of car, and need to be able to offer a complete service to clients.

Choosing the right automotive AC machines for your needs can be a daunting task, and too many people simply opt for the cheapest model available, rather than making an informed decision about the best product for their needs. EPA requirements aside, the most important factor when choosing the correct automotive AC machine for your business, is the capacity of the machine to deal with the range of vehicles that you currently work on. You need to choose a machine that can connect easily with all the different types of car that your workshop deals with, and which has enough capacity to recover and treat the refrigerant left in the system to remove any impurities.

Basic automotive AC machines such as the Pro Set Oiless Portable Recovery Recycle Unit are flexible enough to reprocess coolant from a fairly wide range of sources, remove any contaminating oils and other liquids, and release the Freon in perfect condition for reuse.

There are other machines in a similar price bracket that are reliable enough for every day use, and yet still compact enough not to require a vast amount of space in your workshop. Automotive AC Machines such as the Inficon Vortex refrigerant recovery machine are ideally suited to occasional use, and are very compact.

If offering AC repairs and servicing is key to your business, then having the right tools for the job is essential. Getting it right at the beginning when you choose an AC coolant recovery machine often means choosing a model from the Cool Tech range. These robust and highly regarded specialist tools are at the centre of any serious AC shop, and thanks to their efficiency and great value for money, will pay for themselves over and over again.

Automotive Marketing Research, Tips to Find the Best Firm

The automotive industry is growing at a rapid pace. The success of a product is directly proportional to the amount of research that has gone into making the product. Hence, automotive marketing research is integral to the entire process of product development and feedback. This type of research entails various specialized areas. That’s precisely where experienced research firms play a significant role starting right from the preliminary product design research stage.
Automobile events are a fertile ground to conduct research and empower you with information that will make your brand stronger. Automobile event research needs to be carefully carried out to get you the right results from live events. Let’s take a look at some specialized automotive marketing research areas:

• Car clinics: Static automobile clinics are effective automotive marketing research tools that help in new product development and feedback. It is advisable to choose a firm that can conduct clinics of all sizes with the number of vehicles ranging from 1-2 to as many as 90 or more if so required. The research firm in questions should be able to handle a large number of respondents across multiple cities. The use of hand-held, touch screen computers makes data easy to collect, process, analyze and integrate.

• Drive clinics: There are different types of drive clinics such as Open Course Drive Clinics, Closed Course Drive Clinics and Motorcycle Ride Clinics that help to get realistic feedback about various aspects of driving a vehicle. A good research firm should be able to provide experienced, well-trained and flexible interviewers who can get maximum information from respondents while controlling a dynamic situation. Closed course drive clinics are an ideal way to get respondents to experience the exact same driving conditions across all drive vehicles. A closed course could include stadium parking lots, NASCAR tracks, road race courses, skid pads, drag strips, blocked off sections of public roadways, etc.

• Auto show research: These events are among the most cost-effective ways to get customer feedback in a clinic-style setting. At such events, interviewers from a research firm conduct intercept interviews with event attendees. Automobile event research could include several different types of events such as auto shows, power sports events, vendor display and race events and enthusiast events. It is advisable to choose a research firm that has experience in conducting research across all of these events while employing randomized respondent selection techniques.

So whether it is the initial product design research or final customer satisfaction research, it is advisable to find a firm that has experience in different facts of automotive marketing research.