As the owner of a professional auto detailing business, you should always be on your toes when it comes to finding creative solutions to identifying, bringing in, and retaining new customers. And with the ever-growing popularity of “daily deals” from the likes of Groupon, LivingSocial and BuyWithMe, many auto detailing business owners are wondering if it’s in their best interest to sign up and offer a deal of their own.Before you start singing, “We’re in the Money,” take a step back and consider what a daily deal might impose upon yourself, your business, your staff and your faithful customers.
For instance, does your auto detailing business have the staff available to answer all of the phone calls you’re going to receive once your offer hits the In Box of 50,000 consumers living within a 50 mile radius of your business locations? Let’s say your decision to go the daily deals route turns out to be a big hit and you sell 600-plus jobs. Are you prepared to handle at least 100 phone calls the very first day?
And if you’re currently running your mobile detailing business through your cell phone – which a lot of Detail King trained car detailers do – are you prepared to do nothing but answer calls all day long, every day for weeks, from a cell phone with spotty coverage at best when you’re in the field working?
The bottom line here… Have a communications plan ready ahead of time so you can field those new customer calls, all the while keeping in mind that your regular customers are trying to contact you also.
Now, on that note, when booking these newly found customers, don’t forget that you still need to service your existing customer base as well as new customers who want your services and are not part of the daily deals promotion. If you are going to go the daily deal route, I recommend setting aside two or three days each week to service your bread and butter customers, because if you don’t block time for them, you’ll lose them to someone else. And believe me when I say it’ll be difficult to get them back once you’ve wrapped up your daily deals detailing jobs — a process that could take up to a year, depending on your deal’s expiration date.
Consider this, too: The majority of your daily deals customers are folks who normally don’t ever pay to have their automobile washed, let alone pay full price to have it professionally detailed. Many of these vehicles are going to be the worst of the worst, yet their owners will expect them to look brand new when you’re finished. The detailing package you’re offering is probably nothing more than a good wash, vacuum and maybe a quick application of spray wax. Problem is, the people who write the ads for these daily deals at companies like Groupon, LivingSocial and BuyWithMe get paid to make them sound like the purchasers are getting much more than they really are. This can create a conflict right off the bat.
You’re going to need to explain to the customer at the time of the appointment exactly what they are getting for the $69 to $89 they dished out when they purchased your offer. When you get beyond that hurdle is the time to explain what you actually recommend for their particular vehicle — above and beyond what your deal package includes.
You might want to train your staff to offer “step up” car detailing services at a discounted price before getting to work on the car. Things like polish buffing, interior soil extraction, vinyl and leather cleaning/conditioning and even custom wheel polishing. If you normally charge $40, offer these services for $30, with the goal of selling at least two step-ups per customer. The automobile is already in your care, so you might as well earn more on what typically is a narrow profit transaction.
Another important fact to consider is that most of these daily deals customers will most likely never darken the doorway of your business again. It’s just the nature of the beast. Nevertheless, you must provide them a great value, and demonstrate total professionalism while they are in your presence. Keep in mind they purchased online and the Internet is a very powerful communications tool. There are web sites like Yelp.com and others that are the voice of the consumer, so do a good job and avoid negative customer reviews online.
Heck, do a good job and you might even get a gratuity — or even better, a referral to a neighbor, coworker or family member to detail their car as well!
On the bright side, only about 75 percent of purchasers will actually redeem their offer from you, and since you’re paid up front once the deal closes, consider this a valuable “perk” of the promotion.
If you’re not a big fan of daily deals programs, consider hosting your own “deal of the day” for existing customers and keep all of the revenues for yourself. This might prove to be an innovative way to compete with the detail shop down the street. It’s also a great way to build customer loyalty.
And, if you operate your own website or have a great webmaster, consider working with the likes of ChompOn, a “white label” technology provider that works with businesses interested in offering daily deals and group coupons on their own website or domain, as opposed to through Groupon and other national providers. As it turns out, the Groupons of the world like to keep 50 percent or more of the money a customer pays for your deal, while ChompOn charges considerably less (something in the range of 15 percent of gross revenues generated using their technology. For more information, visit ChompOn.com.
One final pointer: If you’re going to pursue offering a daily deal, negotiate the best split possible — keeping for your company at least 60 percent or more of the revenues generated by the deal. You’ll get your split a few weeks after your promotion runs. And when I say split, I’m here to tell you that I’ve seen checks from such transactions that surpass $100,000!
And please — if you ever want to bounce any of your ideas off of me, feel free to contact me any time. Similarly, feel free to leave a comment below.
Oh, one final note: Researchers and business organizations across the globe are just now starting to weigh in on the effectiveness of daily deals in a variety of business sectors. Once these reports and studies start to see the day of light, I’ll be sure to summarize them here – on the Car Detailing Business Blog – and share what they mean for you and your auto detailing business!