The end of the year is a great time to begin thinking about how to preserve cash flow during the slow season, and how to reduce the pressure of next spring’s peak. It doesn’t make sense to work hard all year long only to lose all of your profits during the next few months.
As important as cash flow is, so is getting done in January and February the work that would likely come to you in March, April and May. By having as much work as possible done in advance, you flatten the peak of your service season and free up more time to better serve potential new service customers. It also eliminates the need for that extra technician you might pick up during the busiest part of your year.
Special service offers and incentives
The most effective way to generate preseason work is to make contact with your existing customers through direct mail, phone, or a combination of both, with an offer to service their equipment before the spring season starts. You will want your offer to end about 30 days prior to when your normal spring season begins in order to give you a chance to finish the work and prepare for your normal busy season.
Your offer should be simple for the customer to understand and attractive enough to get them to take action on. You may offer 5% off of the parts, service, pickup and delivery, or simply free pickup and delivery with the normal rate for service.
Once you have decided what you are going to offer and for how long you, make the offer. Compile a list of all your customers and sort them by consumer, commercial and municipal. For the most part, you want to target your consumer customer base. There is an opportunity to do preseason service with your commercial and municipal customers, but you may want to make them a different offer which includes special pricing on blades, belts and filters for use over the course of the coming season.
As you think about and prepare your postcard/mailer, remember the following five tips:
1. Keep it friendly. When your postcard arrives in the mail, you don’t want your customers to think of it as another piece of junk mail but rather as a message from a friend.
2. Drop the sales pitch. These are your customers, who have done business with you and know you. If this is the first time you have done a mailing, you want to generate enough interest from your customers so that they will either call you. If you call them, they shouldn’t feel like you are hammering them for their service business.
Briefly state the benefits of getting the equipment serviced prior to the beginning of the season. Then, use the remainder of your postcard to motivate them to get more information by calling you or going to your website.
3. Timing is everything when it comes to direct mail. Send your postcards so that they arrive on either a Tuesday or Wednesday. The amount of mail delivered on those days in both the United States and Canada is usually light, giving your mailing less competition.
4. Follow up with a phone call. This is one of the most important elements to your preseason service campaign. Following up can easily double the amount of preseason work your shop sees.
5. Be consistent and persistent. Don’t just mail once in November, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Do it again in December and a third time in January. According to direct-mail marketing studies, your persistence will ultimately pay off.
Give your slow season a boost that will improve your cash flow and take the peak out of the 2013 season.