A few weeks back some friends and I engaged in a friendly wager on the golf course. You can be sure that no large bets were made. And you can be equally certain that scores were nothing memorable. However, I did have a valuable lesson reiterated as we approached each new tee box. The lesson: Local knowledge of the course pays off.
Any golfer on the course can read the placard placed at each tee and know if the hole is a dogleg left, right, or straight away. They can know if there is a stream midway up the fairway or where the sand traps are placed. But without local course knowledge, golfers wouldn’t know that three greens are always well watered because of their orientation to southern sun and therefore you can shoot for the green and stick the shot. That’s important because they also wouldn’t know that the fairways leading up to those holes are also over watered and that any hopes of hitting the ball a few yards short of the green and running it on are slim to none.
There are numerous other local scraps of knowledge which enabled me to extract an extra buck or two from my fellow golfers. The real point is: A little extra knowledge of local conditions paid off! Winning a couple of dollars in a friendly golf match is fun, but making hometown knowledge pay off, in terms of your local shop marketing efforts, is vital!
Let’s examine just 4 ways in which local knowledge will enhance your marketing efforts:
1. Measure Local Customer Service Trends
When it comes to your local shop marketing efforts, measurement is vital! Measuring, on an hourly, daily, weekly… basis provides valuable information about your customers. For example: How many males VS females visit your shop in particular hours or days of the week? Paying attention to these male/female customer flow patterns, over time, will tell you who you should be making trial offers to during specific times.
For example, if you know that you have more female customers on a particular day or at particular times of the year, you can make offers available which would most appeal to that customer segment. Understanding why that customer segment is available at those particular times is the information that is most valuable. Taking the time to simply ask those specific customers who are visiting your shop at those noted times will very possibly provide you with marketing information that you can use in the future. Maybe a particular employer has shifts going home from work, or maybe there are traffic issues at those regular times which drive traffic to your center… Whatever the reason, knowing why particular patterns are occurring is to your benefit for future local shop marketing efforts.
When you measure and then you see a pattern emerging, simply ask those customers why they’re choosing to visit you at that time. It’s a simple question that will provide worthwhile information!
2. Set Local Introduction Goals
There is an increasingly dying art which we hardly ever resort to anymore: Meeting people face to face as opposed to through some device.
Whether you’re an owner of a number of shops or just one shop location, try the simple idea of setting a goal to introduce yourself to 10 new people a week. At the grocery store, the gas station, the local soccer game… wherever in your community. Simply say: “I’m Joe Brown, and I own XYZ Repair Shop. I just wanted to introduce myself. Have you tried our services yet?” If the answer is “no”, offer them a business card and write a discount on the card for a product or service. Simple math tells you that if you meet 10 new people each week, times 52 weeks each year, that small effort alone will introduce your business to 520 potential customers. Let’s say just 10% of the new acquaintances give you a try. That’s 52 new customers with no advertising expense, except a small box of business cards.
You know where the significant opportunities to meet people exist in your community. Make a list of those gathering spots and actually schedule some time, every week, to be at those locations and shake some hands, look people in the eye, and extend some personal invitations.
3. Plan and Schedule Local Networking Efforts
You also know who the significant employers, schools, churches and other organizations in your area consist of. Knowing that, make a planned and scheduled effort to form real and personal relationships with key people in everyone of those groups and businesses. It would be somewhat impressive, I suppose, to have your shop’s name on the centerfield fence at the local ballpark, or even on a Jumbotron at a college football game. But even that kind of “glitzy” name identification will never grow the kind of long term trust and support, for a locally operated service center that you’ll build by personally networking within those groups. Typically, “big box” service providers will never have someone spend the one-on-one time that you can spend meeting and participating with the local community leaders, and business owners, who you’re around every single day.
You should know the organizations that local leaders belong to and get involved with those same associations as much as possible. Networking within these groups will lead to new individual customers, but may also result in fleet accounts, and over time, you’ll create additional connections with community leaders.
4. Offer Local Employee Incentives
Offer local employers discount cards, which they can provide to their employees. If the discount is worthwhile for you and the employee, the employers are usually pleased to offer the cards to employees because it’s one more way they can express thanks to their workforce without spending their own resources. The discount could be anything from dollars off on an LOF to a free set of wiper blades. You may even get one of your suppliers to work with you on providing discounted offers to specific companies.
The most important point, the offer needs to be worthy of presenting to the local employer so they feel that you’re not only trying to build your own business, but you’re also trying to help them reward their staff. The late owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, Larry Miller, is noted for saying: “I will never make a business deal that doesn’t help both parties.” Good advice for mega million dollar NBA owners and for local service repair operators.
A few extra bucks in your pocket
Someone once said: “Golf is simply an interruption of what would otherwise be a very nice walk.” Perhaps, but local course knowledge can still put a few extra bucks in your pocket! Local shop marketing can do the same. Just make a planned effort to use the local knowledge that’s all around you!
Paul Haloulos is the trade marketing manager at Castrol USA. For more information on this story or Castrol products, call 1 (888)-CASTROL or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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