Almost every dealership, regardless of the products you sell or services you offer, historically have a slow time of year. As we travel the country working with dealers, we have seen all sorts of great ideas come alive as they work to keep their businesses afloat during the slow season and start the year in the black.

One great way to keep a dealership busy (and profitable) during the slow season is the effective use of winter service specials. So, what is a winter service special and how do you make it worth your time & money?

Simply put, winter service specials are advertised events designed to bring work into your service department during the time of year that is typically slow. While this might vary a bit region to region, for most dealers this time is typically during the winter. A winter service special will normally be for a specific item at a packaged price. This accomplishes two goals. One, your customers can get their equipment ready for next season before the rush and, two, you have steady work coming into your shop.

We have had dealers across the country try this a few different ways, but it typically works best if you send out postcards about the special to everyone in your database who has purchased from you in the last five years.

About a week after sending out the mailer, have your parts people begin making follow up calls to each person you sent a postcard to. Their job is to simply see if the customer received the postcard and if the customer has any questions. It’s as simple as that.

It’s important to keep in mind that your parts people can only make a limited number of calls per day; so, balance the number of cards you send out each week with the number of calls your parts people can effectively make the following week. Your goal is to have the card in the hands of your customer a few days before the parts person makes the call.

While you may meet some resistance from your parts people about this, you know as much as we do there is down time at the parts counter and they are the perfect people to make calls on behalf of the dealership. Take some time and coach them on how to do this and work to make it fun! Perhaps reward them by bringing in pizza for lunch on Friday if they make X number of calls.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to keep this responsibility just at the parts counter; you are welcome to get the sales team involved as well. Having a profitable shop during the slow season keeps your customers coming in the door of your dealership and it’s a win for everyone.

Remember, like most things in business, it takes two to three years to get any program up and running and this includes creating an on-going customer demand for winter services. Some customers will jump right on the opportunity right away. For other customers, it might take a year or two before they decide to take advantage of your special offer, but, stick with it. This is a marathon, not a sprint!

This is a great way to join other dealers, all across North America, who are running successful winter service specials and keeping their shops busy all winter long.

Need some help getting your winter service special off the ground? Contact us at BCI. We have tools and resources available! info@bobclements.com.

Sara Hey

About Sara Hey

Sara Hey is the Vice President of Operations and Development for Bob Clements International. She has spoken at conferences across the country educating dealers on the internal aspects of their business. She graduated from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a contributing writer for BCI for 3 years.