National Car Care Month in April is “show time” for our industry. It’s the aftermarket’s rallying point to ramp up the car care messages to consumers. And there are as many ways to get involved as there are days in the month. So no excuses.
Celebrating National Car Care Month is easy for any size business. It can be as simple as offering the new Car Care Guide to customers who visit your shop. And hanging the (2’10” x 7’10”) bay banner in your shop draws a lot of attention and shows your support for the industry’s initiative. Or you can go all out by hosting or partnering with others on an exciting Car Care Aware Fair. Several hundred of these colorful events are held each year in April.
A typical fair-type event would involve repair shops, retailers, automotive students from the local vocational school, a radio or television station, community civic group and others. Picture the event site set up in a highly visible location, decorated with banners, tents, balloons, show cars from local racers or car clubs, and offering activities for everyone. A remote broadcast by a radio station draws the crowd to enjoy how-to clinics, and demos of worn parts, dirty engine oil and fluids. The fire and/or police department demonstrates the proper installation of child safety seats and seat belt use. Clowns hand out balloons and volunteers do face painting to keep the kids busy.
And central to the event is a free vehicle checkup where motorists pull their vehicle into designated inspection lanes manned by technicians and vocational school auto shop students. With a clipboard in hand, the technicians walk the consumer through a 41-point visual inspection under the hood and around the car, checking tire pressure, oil and antifreeze levels, wiper blades, lights and more. Upon completion of the inspection, consumers take home a copy of the inspection form with a greater awareness of their vehicle’s condition and needs, and a positive impression of automotive service professionals.
Every shop owner, parts store manager or distributor we’ve talked to who has been involved in one of these community events with free vehicle checkups has experienced a spike in business and new customers. Plus they claim it helps reinforce customer loyalty. Consumers love these events. Besides a valuable, free inspection, they get a rare opportunity to ask questions and talk one-on-one with professional technicians who are not trying to sell them anything. Talk about improving the image of the automotive service and repair profession!
There is so much potential sales and service just waiting to be tapped in every community across the country. National Car Care Month is an annual barometer to help check the condition of vehicles on the road. By reviewing and analyzing the inspection forms sent in by businesses that hosted vehicle checkup events, we learn a lot. In 2006, we found that nearly one out of every 10 vehicles inspected during vehicle checkup events needed a new part or some sort of maintenance, service or repair performed.
From worn belts and hoses, to low or dirty engine oil, clogged air filters or burned out light bulbs, it’s all sales and service just waiting to be captured. National Car Care Month is a tried and true marketing strategy that will attract that new business to your shop.
The Car Care Council has created many marketing materials to make it as easy as possible for aftermarket businesses to jump on board the National Car Care Month bandwagon. A how-to DVD takes you step-by-step through the process of planning and executing vehicle checkup events. A CD that comes with it provides press releases, logos, a planning guide and everything else you need.
A starter kit available for $95 includes bay banners, posters, countermats, brochures, inspection forms, mirror hangers and many promotional items that can be used to celebrate National Car Care Month in April and throughout the year.
National Car Care Month is for you. It combines education, national media support, marketing, community relations, entertainment, volunteerism and collaboration into a fun business-building event. Please make 2007 your year to participate.
Guest Editorial by
Car Care Council