Are you ready for “the rush?”
In my first years I didn’t handle the yearly spike in business that came around April: I overbooked my schedule and made some sloppy mistakes. Equipment would break but we had no backup. We were understaffed and couldn’t get customers scheduled for 5-6 days out (customers called the next shop on their list). If I was going to “cash in” during summer and spring (the seasons we make REAL money), I had to be prepared by April. Here’s a list of tasks I learned to do in March:
1. Equipment “tune up.”
Toss bad towels, old bottles, old polishing pads, broken equipment…all the junk you don’t use anymore. Change the oil in your compressor and pressure washer. Buy: new brushes, extension cords, filters for the vacuum cleaners, no-leak air fittings. Test, test, test EVERYTHING. Buy BACKUP EQUIPMENT: polishers, pressure washers, vacuum cleaners. These will inevitably fail, and fail at the worst time.
2. Run a special.
“Spring cleanup” specials (20% off…free premium wax upgrade…$40 off, etc.) were always very popular. Publicize on your website, Facebook, your postcards, your flyers and…your phone greeting: “thanks for calling Funkhauser detailing…would you like to hear about our spring special?”
3. Uniform “tune up.”
If you wear a uniform…congratulations. Toss dirty pants/shirts and replace them. Don’t have a uniform? At a minimum, get white t-shirts with your logo (lots of them–they will get stained) front and back. I make logos for detailers $99 at SEO 4 Detailers. I’ll set you up with in 10 days, and forward high-res files your printing or uniform company.
4. Add a new service.
If you’ve been considering adding headlight restoration, windshield repair, leather/vinyl dye, paint touch up, etc. NOW is the time. You still have time to practice, practice, practice. Don’t “learn the ropes” on a customers’ car!
Not hiring early cost me $1000s in my early years. We’d get rushed in July/August and I’d hire anyone who showed up. They needed so much training that they only did 3 or 4 hours of valuable work on an 8 hour shift. So hire now. There may be slow days. Take on some dealer work to get them the “repetition” they need.
6. Get in touch with your customer base.
Email or send postcards to your customers with a special offer just for them. Check in with old dealer accounts you “lost.” If you haven’t been collecting your customers’ contact info, this is a MUST DO for 2012. Here’s a great check-in form that I used. 80% of customers gave me their email address…no questions.
7. Website tuneup.
Your visitors spend an average of 90 seconds there. In 90 seconds it should be completely clear: who you are, what you do, why they should hire you, where you service them, and how they should contact you. If your website doesn’t answer the who/what/why/where/how question…they leave. My “Website Reboot” special ends this month.
Finally, spend some time thinking about last summer. What went wrong? Where could you have been more prepared? How could you have made more money? Make adjustments NOW because it won’t be long until you don’t have time to think at all.