Reach Out and Touch Someone

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				Dave_Prant-5

We all know how important it is to be an active part of the community in which we do business. Caring for our customers also means supporting the organizations that are important to them. Charity work is a topic for another column. The involvement I want to discuss today is more of an outreach program — a way to introduce yourself and your business to the community at large and find new customers while you’re at it!

I’m talking about educational seminars by an expert — namely you. You’re an expert on many things, but the first that comes to mind is automotive preventative maintenance. It doesn’t have to be you who personally gives these seminars; it can be your handpicked spokesperson. In fact, this can be a reward for one of your good employees when you turn them into your ambassador. There are many organizations in your marketplace hungry for information on how to keep their vehicles running better and lasting longer.

How long should your off-the-shelf talk be? Thirty minutes should be plenty when you factor in question and answer time. Your kids can help you put a colorful, attention-keeping PowerPoint presentation together that features your smiling employees, shining facility and eye-catching logo. Remember to pass out any materials you have to help them, and don’t forget your coupons.

Now, who wants to hear you? Try high schools for first-time drivers and colleges for new used car owners. Girl Scouts have a new badge available on automotive maintenance; try some troop leaders in your area. Human resource departments at larger area employers would probably welcome such a talk as a benefit to their employees. This might lead to fleet business, as well. Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, assorted lodges, women’s groups — all would welcome your educational piece. Church groups like to save money, too. People are hungry for content that helps them save money and helps them feel smarter about the way they treat their vehicles.

Make sure to offer it to newspapers and TV stations, too. Imagine the goodwill you could establish when your first contact isn’t an investigative report. At the very least, they will likely call you to get your side of things if newspapers and TV stations might also be hungry for a column or feature on maintenance for their editorial content. Pitch them an “Ask the Expert” column featuring you as the expert! Make up some dummy questions and answers to show them what you can do.

You are an expert on employment. Career days at schools are a source of employees and potential customers. Don’t limit yourself to automotive classes; Chris Mulquenney of California said she gets a lot of applications by talking to classes about first jobs, regardless of the industry.

This kind of community outreach is expensive in your time, but not your treasure. It can be an inexpensive way to build a new and loyal crop of customers and friends. 

DAVID PRANGE is currently assistant to the chairman at Next Generation Mfg.  He can be reached at 630.699.6813 or: daveprange@aol.com

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