Following up on last month’s column, “What Will The Dog Days of Summer Bring?”, another ImportCar Advisory Board member, Steve Louden, president of Louden Motorcar Services, a BMW, Mercedes and Porsche specialist in Dallas, speaks out about projections for summer automotive service and discusses some new ideas for boosting his shop’s bottom line.
Louden’s message rings loud and clear: Take care of your customers; increase your marketing/advertising efforts to keep your shop “top-of-mind” with both customers and prospects; and extol the benefits of preventive maintenance, as a means of boosting vehicle performance and extending vehicle longevity.
1. Considering an economy that’s still struggling to emerge from the recession, do you feel automotive service will pick up this summer, and why?
We notice a slight up-tick in consumer confidence and delayed repairs that cannot be delayed any longer. Business picked up after April 15th, as it typically does, which coincided with the start of A/C season. Springtime also brought with it a sense of renewal with the trees and flowers blooming. This normally gives people a more positive feeling which, in the end, drives our economy.
2. Will you be running any specials this summer, or hosting any events, to drum up new business?
In 32 years, we’ve never run any “specials” and this summer will be no different. However, we do host Mercedes and BMW club “do it yourself” tech sessions which exposes our business to various potential customers and has been successful over the years. We are increasing our marketing efforts and budget to our existing customer base as well as to potential new customers. This is working well and bringing in new customers. This is NO time to be cutting back on marketing.
3. How will the automotive service business in general fare in the upcoming summer months?
We are finding that many customers are delaying the purchase of a new car and, thus, will spend money on keeping their existing car in good shape for another year or two. We are also finding that customers are more “price conscious” today and the OEM dealers are getting more aggressive in their pricing policies. We call it “knowing your market” and sometimes adjusting to it.