Part of the neighborhood
Being a part of your local community is more than just putting up an ‘open for business’ sign. You want your shop to be considered a good neighbor by the residents of your town, and that means becoming actively involved in the community.
While there are many things your shop can do to give back to the community in which you do business, an easy way to get started is by sharing your knowledge. From speaking to local groups to holding an educational session at your shop, these events can pay big dividends.
Why it matters
Customers like doing business with people that they are familiar with. Speaking to community groups or holding educational events lets customers put a face to your shop. In no time, your shop can go from being a faceless corporation to a trusted neighbor that customers want to support.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to share your knowledge with the community. Holding an educational workshop or speaking at a meeting of a local civic group like Rotary International, Lions Club or Kiwanis International, or a business group like the Chamber of Commerce are great ways to connect with the community. Use the following ideas to help you brainstorm for ways that your shop can become more visible around town.
Speak at a Lions Club meeting
Contact your local Lions Club and offer to speak at an upcoming meeting. You can talk about general automotive maintenance tips or tailor your talk to the time of the year. For example, if the talk is taking place in the summer, you could talk about tips for getting your car ready for summer road trips; if it’s winter, give pointers for helping your vehicle survive the snow and cold.
Consider taking some props to add interest to your presentation. If the importance of replacing worn windshield wiper blades is part of the talk, take a damaged wiper blade to show what to look for and also show a new blade to demonstrate the advantages of replacing the old wipers.
Save time at the end to answer any questions.
Hand out flyers with a money-saving offer.
Collect e-mail addresses of those who want more information.
Host an educational workshop
Putting on an educational session at your shop is a great way to share your expertise and get customers in your shop. You have many options in how you organize the event. You can have a single session on basic car care or you could have an additional session that is more targeted, like diagnosing brake problems.
The shop setting gives you the ability to use a car in the presentation, allowing you to demonstrate basic maintenance procedures. This is also your chance to show off your shop. You can go into great detail about the services your shop offers and how you make it easy for customers to get their car serviced.
Don’t forget the refreshments.
Hand out goodie bags with coupons and trinkets like keychains.
Create a flyer or pamphlet outlining your shop’s services.
Talk to a high school auto shop class
Does your local high school have a vocational auto shop class or program? Speaking to them is a great way to show interest in the next generation. Modify your talk to the skill level of the class – the instructor will likely be able to help with some ideas.
Take the idea to the next level by inviting the class to your shop for some real-world experience. You can give the class a tour of the shop and demonstrate how to handle a repair that fits with the level of the class. This idea could also work for a local trade school or community college class.
Take examples to help illustrate concepts.
When demonstrating a procedure, ask for questions between each step.
Give contact info and offer to be a resource.
New driver boot camp
Hosting a new driver boot camp is a creative way to get involved with your community. These newly minted drivers are the perfect audience for an educational workshop. This is your chance to help new drivers develop the skills they need to be safe and conscientious motorists.
Show them how to perform routine maintenance checks on their vehicle like monitoring the oil and coolant levels and maintaining the proper tire pressure. You can even demonstrate how to change a tire – a skill all drivers should have.
Have a little fun – these are kids after all.
Serve pizza and other snacks.
Give them a goodie bag with coupons, air freshener and other fun items.
Besides the satisfaction you get from being a good neighbor to those in your community, sharing your knowledge benefits your shop in ways that can make a positive impact on your bottom line.
- Exposes more people to your shop and services.
- Visibly demonstrates that your shop cares about the community.
- Shows customers that you’re an expert in the field and someone they can trust.
- Expanded customer base can result in more appointments.