Industry Insight: 'Becky Says Change the Sign'

Sept. 8, 2020

This small-town shop came up with a viral community hit, which became a successful shop promotion.

The story starts with Becky Brough, of course. She works at the high school in Hamilton, Mont., and is involved in a lot of community organizations and events.

She’s also a big part of the family’s quick lube shop. For 22 years, the Brough family has run Lube Quick, a four-bay operation along the main road in town. Maggie Petrey, Becky’s daughter, says that her mom is always involved in making sure operations go smoothly at the shop. Often, that includes the signage out front. Six years ago, Becky was reminding her husband and co-owner, Tim Brough, to update the message on it.

So that’s what Tim did. He added letters to say, “Becky said to change the sign.” It was part of the good-natured fun that the family has with one another.

“And he did it kind of out of spite of her always telling him to change the sign,” Maggie says. “And it caught a lot of people’s attention, because even people who didn’t know Becky thought it was funny.”

The presence of Becky and her wishes on Lube Quick’s sign has become something of a viral phenomenon around the Bitterroot Valley, in which Hamilton is one of the main towns. Some people stop by the shop to wish Becky well or even drop off flowers. Others are surprised that Becky is even a real person.

For Lube Quick, the fun signage has helped the community to connect with the Brough family’s shop, and it launched a promotion that’s grown the customer base.

“Gaining new customers in the process only makes it that much sweeter as we go along,” Maggie says. “So I think the sign has been a great marketing ploy, but it’s keeping the community engaged and involved in a way that’s fun and not pushy.”

Keeping it Fresh

One of the hallmarks of a good promotion is that it shows that the business is having fun. The Brough family has certainly been doing that, and it shows with their Becky signs, which poke fun at the business.

“Get your oil change. Becky needs a new purse,” one sign might read. Another one has said, “Honk if you like Becky.”

Tim Brough says he could hear the support when that sign went up.

“We’d hear these cars honking as they go by, you’d have to remind yourself, ‘That’s because of the sign,’” he says.

So he followed it with, “Becky appreciates your honking.”

Tim is typically in charge of the sign messaging. He says he’s got a lot to draw from after years of marriage, and he joked that he spends a lot of time thinking of different ways to give Becky a hard time.

For six years, the family has been able to keep the signs fresh, so much so that Becky as a message has taken on a life of its own.

Becoming a Promotion

For years, it was just a way for the Broughs to have fun with their business and their customers. 

“We never really saw it as a promotion or a marketing plan,” Maggie says. “We honestly just like to keep things light and funny and catch people’s attention who are driving by. It wasn’t until last year that we were working with a local marketing company here in town, Bitterroot Valley Marketing. She told us that we need to use it to our advantage.”

Tim Brough, Jr., says that the shop had been advertising and promoting their business in a more traditional way over the years. Flyers or radio spots and the like. When they hooked up with the agency, the well-known Becky signs immediately became a potential opportunity.

Lube Quick launched a promotion for customers to submit their own Becky sign ideas. They made t-shirts, too. Tim Jr. says it was a great success.

“Giving people the opportunity to come up with their own Becky sign was fun,” he says. “It got them engaged, got them to visit our Facebook page, visit our website and just really started to grow that social footprint.”

Even in a small town, he says they were growing their customer base and getting lots of new interactions online, which fed into the buzz that their signs had started.

Community Impact

Tim Jr. says his favorite of the Becky signs was one that said, “No one likes Becky.”

It might seem a bit rude, but it really shows how much fun the Brough family has had with their promotion. Maggie says that it worked because the real Becky is so kind and involved in local charities. The sign got people’s attention that way.

And people showed up to the shop afterward to let them know that, despite the sign, that they liked Becky.

One of the toughest things for a small business to do is create buzz around their business—something that spreads their name almost automatically. It seems that by being themselves and having fun, the Brough family did just that in their community. People will stop by and take photos with the sign or talk about Becky at the grocery store.

Maggie says that being a bright spot in the town dialogue has been the best part for them and the business.

“We love our community. We love being a family-owned business,” she says. “Myself and my two brothers work here. My mom and dad have owned it for 22 years. We like keeping things light, we like keeping things fun and family oriented and we like involving the community.”