Think Outside the Box
SHOP STATS: Adirondack Express Lube Locations: 2 (Gloversville and Amsterdam, N.Y.) Operator: Rob Hutchins Average Daily Car Count: 40 (Gloversville), 25 (Amsterdam) Average Staff Size: 4 Average Number of Bays: 4 Ticket Average: $75 (Gloversville), $100 (Amsterdam)
Before joining the Adirondack Express Lube team three years ago, Jenna Hutchins says the only marketing the shop did was a couple print ads here and there. And even before that, it was strictly word of mouth. While Hutchins, daughter of owner Rob Hutchins and the shop’s service manager, says this type of marketing can still work for older customers, it can be costly and, most importantly, not as effective.
Instead of coughing up cash for costly advertising options, Hutchins has learned to get a little creative with her marketing options, aiming to be as low-cost, unique, and family-oriented as possible. Her best tool to do so? Social media.
It’s a completely free form of advertising. Hutchins says while the shop did have Facebook before she came on board, it was something the shop could just say was there. Virtual cobwebs were starting to form from the lack of any content at all. Now, she aims to post at least once per week, if not more, full of high-quality content that makes the shop stand out.
Here are just some of the little to no-cost marketing strategies and how social media plays a big role in the results.
In the Know
If business is a little slow in the shop, Hutchins says to use this time to use your outside resources. She makes sure to share news articles surrounding topics on car maintenance to show that the shop is a wealth of knowledge to its customers, and gives just a little reminder to customers on important car maintenance to get that they may have forgotten about. It’s a simple tactic that takes little time and keeps the shop top-of-mind.
Hutchins says it’s important to engage with customers as much as possible not only with a couple posts here and there, but getting their direct site. A great way to do that is with Facebook polls. This way, you’re having a direct interaction with customers. It can be anything from voting on the shop’s best services to getting customer insight on the shop’s decorations. One poll in particular asked customers if the shop should decorate for Thanksgiving or skip straight to going all-out for Christmas.
Small Business Support
During the onset of COVID-19, the need for traffic was at an all-time high. In order to help their business and other local ones in the area, the quick lube took part in a campaign by the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce in what they call “WooHoo Wednesday,” for which they would write a call-to-action social media post asking their customers to write three reviews for your favorite local businesses in the area.
An Inside Look
Social media give customers a sneak peak into the shop’s happenings. Hutchins says even in the business, she’s still intimated to go into a service center by herself, especially before when she had little to no knowledge on anything automotive whatsoever. This led her to come up with a brilliant idea: To give customers a real behind-the-scenes look, she wanted to create videos of technicians performing typical services in the shop so the customer knows exactly what goes on while their car is being serviced. For example, the shop has posted a 15-second video on how a technician mounts a new tire and even a step-by-step video showing how the shop performs a fuel injection service.
The Oprah Way
As Oprah would say, “You get a prize! You get a prize! Everyone gets a prize!” Another big focus for the shop depends on low-cost giveaways, which really grabs the attention of new customers in the area. How? Over the airwaves. Hutchins partnered up with the local radio stations, 105.1 WENT FM and 1340 AM, to give away things like discounts on oil changes, prizes, and gift certificates to other local businesses in the area. Hutchins simply posts on Facebook each time before a giveaway to let customers know to stop in at one of their locations to register.
Hutchins’ favorite marketing tactic involves spreading the holiday cheer. She really enjoys holidays and makes a huge effort to put the focus on that. And, best yet, this costs the shop little to no money whatsoever.
“For each holiday, I never spend more than $25,” she says. “The dollar store is like my best friend.”
This year for Valentine’s Day, Hutchins spent hours on end writing little curated notes on hundreds of pre-cut foam hearts with a piece of candy attached. She ended up posting a picture of some of the notes on Facebook, saying a customer will receive a special Valentine from the shop when they buy an oil change.
When Halloween rolls around, Hutchins goes all out and makes the shop into a spooky paradise. She loves to give customers a little inside look on the shop prepping their lobby for Halloween, even posting a video tour of the lobby on the shop’s Facebook page. As the tradition goes, she makes sure to take part in the trick-or-treat festivities and hand out candy.
For Hutchins, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year in the shop. While decorations are of course a part of the holiday festivities, the shop staff and customers gear up each year for the shop’s ugly Christmas sweater contest. Hutchins says it’s always a huge hit with customers, saying they come into the shop saying how much they enjoy it. On top of this, the shop’s Facebook page always gets a lot of likes from customers and outside of the shop’s customer base just from the amount of shares they get on this single post. Best of all, this holiday favorite is absolutely zero cost to the shop’s marketing budget.
“It really gets the community involved and brings in a lot of people that haven’t heard of us before.”