What’s the #1 action a successful shop, not just continued with but expanded on, during COVID-19?
In all its various forms and applications, Marketing proved to be the mechanism of not only sustaining but growing a business no matter the circumstance.
From reaching out to not ten or twenty customers every day, but 100+ customers, to posting on all social media platforms multiple times each day to increasing budgets for Google ads – all of these Marketing components meant that their shop was top of mind during the crisis. Each customer knew they could ask that shop anything. From contactless pick-up and delivery, filling up their gas tank or picking up some essential groceries – these customers knew that their repair shop was available to help in any way. That type of brand positioning is something a successful shop knew was invaluable during this unique time. Plus, at the end of the day, it was the right thing to do for their community.
Donny Yeoman, owner of Yeoman Service Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana knew his leadership and management skills would be tested. But he was prepared and ready for the challenge. Donny knew just staying calm was important. Both for himself and his team. By exuding a sense of calm and knowing his business could get through the crisis, automatically brought calm and and a sense of job security to his team.
And most importantly, Donny knew he had to keep his car count up. He knew that by focusing on that key element he would be able to continue with his calm and in-control demeanor for his staff. Donny found that his most effective Marketing actions were a combination of a few specific Marketing initiatives.
Donny immediately increased his weekly ad spend by another $100.00 for Google Ads. This practical and highly effective spend insured that the calls would keep coming into his shop. The Yeoman Service Center phones have continued to ring during the crisis.
Personal one-on-one texts to customers. These were not meant as a sales message but a check-in with customers to make sure they were OK and to see if they needed anything. Each response was personally responded to by Donny, which on some days took hours because of the amount of texts back to Yeoman’s. Donny was happy to do just that.
PR is part of Marketing and Donny wanted to do something to also help his local business community. He partnered with a pizza shop that had posted that they needed help or they were going out of business. Donny bought 150 pizzas with each pizza going to a child and their parent who was now home schooling because of the pandemic. The word got out and the pizza shop was able to bring back all of their employees who they had to lay off. Plus they were very busy – so much so they ran out of food on more than one occasion. So with this one action, Donny brought attention to a fellow local business that needed help, the issue of parents now home schooling their kids – plus the Yeoman name was included in the outreach. A true win-win for all included.
Because of Donny’s laser focus on Marketing and how that effected his car count and team, he was able to hire an additional Service Advisor in the middle of the crisis and for April 2019 vs. April 2020 he saw an increase of over 12%. His business is strong and stable with reserves in the bank.
“Although this is a third-generation shop, I’m a young owner and on my own in many ways. DRIVE proved to be the backbone I needed to get through the crisis. They gave me the coaching and confidence that I could get through this. I didn’t just sustain my business, but it actually grew – from my revenues, my car count and my standing in the community.” – Donny Yeoman, Owner Yeoman Service Center Fort Wayne, Indiana
Chris Probst of Bill’s Crestmoor Automotive in Denver, Colorado thinks the crisis brought out the best in people: from her team, herself and to her customers. But at the start of the crisis, Chris wasn’t sure she would be able to keep the doors open. What she had in front of her was enormous. How do you stay open, keep the team intact and come out the other side, if not in the same condition, at least well enough to stay in business.
The crisis brought a new level of importance to all of her Marketing actions. She needed to implement them quickly and it needed to work – not next month but right now.
Google ad words had an immediate impact. Starting with just $100.00 per week as her budget, that quickly grew to $400.00 per week, Chris has now grown her car count by over 30% compared to just a few months ago. And she’s averaging 15 new customers each week. Awesome results!
Chris wanted all of her Marketing outreach to be authentic. From her Facebook posts, to emails, texts and calls. It was important that a person reading any of her messages, would know that Chris wrote them. Each post and email was heartfelt and personal. Anyone would immediately know that when reading them. At the height of the crisis, her shop was making over 100 calls per day to customers. These ‘Goodwill Calls’ were to check in and make sure they were doing OK and see if they needed anything. This program had a wonderful effect on her team – they felt what they were doing really mattered. The calls made them feel essential in a time of upheaval. It made a tight team even tighter and grateful they could make a difference. Through this action, Chris was able to activate past customers – some of which she hadn’t seen in decades.
A third arm of the Marketing efforts from Bill’s Crestmoor were PR based. Chris started the Nurse Appreciation program in Denver that another DRIVE client, Dave Bloom from PineAire Trucking, originated in New York. This program helped recognize a local nurse plus helped a local restaurant. Once a week after customers nominated their favorite nurse, the winner was picked out of a hat. They then received a $100.00 gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. In doing this she helped a local business owner plus recognized a first responder. This type of initiative helps the community, all the individuals involved plus it gets the shop’s name out there. End result is beneficial for all – including the Bill’s Crestmoor team who felt involved and that they were doing something for their community. A true morale booster.
“I’m so proud of my shop and my team,” beamed Chris. “We got through the crisis and the end result is that the business is even stronger than before. The Marketing we did and the level of excellent customer service shown through in everything we did. The success we have had over the past few months is unbelievable. I learned so much and I’m even more confident now in my leadership skills then before,” she continued. “I’m so grateful to be with DRIVE. Learning from my Business Advisor plus the awesome networking with other shop owner clients has proven to be invaluable.” – Chris Probst Owner Bills Crestmoor Automotive Denver, Colorado
Bryan Dourado of DRIVE may say it best for the entire DRIVE team: “Our Marketing group has been on the cutting edge of marketing for shops. During the current state of affairs our Google Ad campaigns have been the hub of why our clients are doing better than they ever have before the crisis. Drive’s marketing team is one of the most vital components to a shop’s success.”
Both Yeoman’s and Bill’s Crestmoor are great examples of understanding and implementing DRIVE’s Marketing Services program. Well done Donny and Chris!
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This article appeared on multiple platforms: Brake & Front End, Shop Owner, Underhood Service, Import Car. Published in newsletters, digital magazines, websites.