When a new season rolls in, many shops expect new customers, new products and new challenges. Keeping up with those changes throughout the year keeps your business healthy--even during dry spells.
Whether or not your shop sees all four seasons, being able to predict cash flow can mean real savings for you and your customers.
Directing business seasonally helps in the following ways; preventing overstock and empty shelves, keeping up morale by having an appropriately staffed shift, helping technicians balance and predict workflow, bringing in new customers through advertising, and encouraging consistent preventative maintenance by helping customers associate services with every weather change.
NOLN spoke with Tyson Daniels, who operates Grease Monkey shops in Rexburg and Pocatello, Idaho, and Kirk Linahan of Christian Brothers Automotive in Virginia Beach, Va., to give you a season-by-season breakdown.
As colder weather subsides, many shops feel renewed on the inside too. Shops can roll up the bay doors and enjoy the fresh air. Families begin to plan their summer travels, tires need checking after rough winter roads, and shops start interviewing new technicians.
Because so many customers come in for oil changes and other systems checks, Daniels’ shop maintains a three-week inventory of high moving inventory items such as filters and vehicle lighting. Using three weeks as a guide, he can watch the product move off shelves and predict when (or if) he’ll need to restock.
Linahan’s shop starts to stock up on freon for A/C work so they’ll be ready for summer, as this is one of their most requested services at that time.
- New vehicle owners
- College students
- Brake fluid check, replacement.
- Engine performance checks.
- Mentioning to customers the benefits of underbody cleaning, rust prevention
Summer brings the heat in two ways—temperature and car count! Linahan typically sees a steady stream of cars as the weather warms up and vacationers flock to nearby resorts.
Summer is a great time to educate customers about the engine overheating and what to do in the event of an emergency. If steam starts rising from the hood, do they know what to do?
In addition, although the pandemic will affect the number of summer travelers, Linahan is still preparing to handle this upcoming season as usual, with a few modifications to inventory and staffing.
On the Shelves:
- Wiper blades
- Air Conditioning system inspection
- Battery fluid leak, corrosion prevention
- Preventing tire blowouts
Some shops schedule advertising campaigns quarterly, but Daniels’ shop designates October as the month to schedule and finalize advertising campaigns for the entire year. “This gives us the ability to handle the day to day matters,” Daniels says, “rather than having a reactive approach at the end of every month in preparation for next month.”
They chose October as it is the beginning of the fourth quarter, it is before major calendar holidays, and work generally slows before the winterizing season. An annual approach to advertising helps them control their spending, stock up on specialty products, and help to schedule technicians during peak hours.
- College students for fall semester
- Travelers, hunters, fishermen
- Battery checks, replacements
- Cooling system checks
- Brake inspection
Harsh winters make serious demands on our vehicles. Most shops see troubles crop up related to power and heating.
Belts, hoses, spark plugs, wires, cables and transmissions can face breakdowns at any time of the year. However, breakdowns during the winter months can be far more serious and costly.
On the Shelves:
- Diesel fuel filters
- Radiator systems checks.
- Engine starters servicing
These recommendations may not be applicable in all climates, and provide a more general guideline than a rulebook.
Regardless of the season, Tyson and Linahan agree that they wish more customers knew about the real benefits proactive, preventative maintenance can have for their vehicles.
“Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant, differential fluid and fuel system cleaning,” Linahan says. “It’s really important for customers to know that any repair costs will be lower if they do routine vehicle maintenance service.”
Continuing customer education and promoting these services can be tricky. However, promoting these services and keeping this line of communication open can bring steady work for shops and bring back repeat customers.
There’s no way to guarantee what each season will bring in for work. The only thing we know for sure is that the wheel of the year will turn, and advocating year-round services will keep customers rolling into your bay.