My friend who owns a 6-bay shop was telling me that business is great.  While he is always keeping his eye on improving the bottom line, he said that the only way they could service more vehicles would be to add additional bays.  Consequently, in all the years I took my cars to him, he never offered specials, incentives, or promotions (he did give me a refrigerator magnet).  While he can boast loyal customers making up nearly 100% of his business capacity, that’s not the case for very many operations in any automotive service sector.  In fact, 77% of all service/repair business is up for grabs with people who are not loyal to a particular business or service sector (i.e. dealerships, independents and aftermarket chains).

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the top three drivers for where people take their vehicles to be cared for are familiarity, location and trust.  But you may not know that 35% of those having work done on any given day are enjoying a discount, coupon, special or some other kind of promotion.  This number is up in recent years.  A lot of that will be outside advertising aimed at getting people into the store, maybe for the first time.  I would like to focus on in-store advertising aimed at adding lines to the repair order and increasing loyalty.

A paying customer in your waiting lounge should be the easiest and most cost-effective sales prospect you have.  Whatever the cost for acquiring their visit today, it has already been paid.  The question becomes how can you get them to commit to additional needed services?  A scheduled maintenance review and a multi-point inspect will reveal WHAT needs to be done, but what will motivate them to get the work done THIS TIME?

For many businesses, it’s as simple as offering a discount for additional services performed today.  You also may have suppliers with specials like, buy three tires, get the fourth one free or a promotion on shocks.  There may also be some unforeseen opportunities: storms in the forecast – a good time to promote wiper blades.  A cold snap coming – let us check your battery.

Traditionally, these types of promotions have been handled with wall signs and posters.  They rely on being able to quickly and inexpensively design and prepare eye-catching signs, or relying on a supplier or distribution affiliate to prepare them.  Of course, you need to have the wall space and too many wall posters look cluttered and unfocused.  And sometimes you’re just too busy or don’t have enough lead time to take advantage of an opportunity.

These are the reasons that businesses in many service industries are turning to digital signage solutions to replace their wall posters and counter cards.  A flat screen TV automatically draws customer attention; having a library of content (video, motion graphics and 3D animations) means that you can quickly select content to take advantage of weather-related opportunities, special pricing from vendors or any other high-margin or often neglected service.  Easily customizable templates let you create your own professionally designed specials and promotions as well as present your loyalty and warranty programs.  And you get rid of all the clutter, having a single focal point for your in-store marketing.

Digital signage can be adapted to an automotive lobby TV program or a digital menu board solution.  And digital signage is always “on”, educating and motivating your customers on additional services.  Some shops have found that they can reduce their outside marketing spend because they are keeping their bays busier and more profitable with internal marketing.  When a customer comes through the door we are implicitly asking him or her “How much for your business?” – How much trust, service, convenience?  How much VALUE does it take to earn your business?  Digital signage helps you demonstrate your value proposition all day, every day.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”337″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgORgmjP1ZE&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

Lance Boldt is Vice President and Co-Founder of AutoNetTV.  AutoNetTV’s digital signage products deliver entertaining and educational TV programming to the lobbies of automotive service and repair businesses as well as digital menu boards and automotive website video content.