Offer your customers a free service or gift on the anniversary of their first visit to your shop. Gifts on special occasions are a great way to build that all important personal relationship with your long term customers and keep your auto repair business fresh in their mind.
The gifts can be different depending on how long they have been a customer. The gifts can become more significant depending on the length of their loyalty.
Some shops use the customer's birthday but this can be too personal in light of the growing concern over privacy. It is better to use anniversary dates related to their relationship with your company.
Grab And Run
Won't people just take the free service and not return? This is a common fear but if your free or discounted services are provided to the right people it is money well spent.
Make the offer available only for people who have been a customer for a minimum time period – say two years. It is a great way to both reward long term customers and encourage repeat business from customers you haven't seen in a while. By restricting it to previous customers it cuts out the opportunists and one time bargain hunters. Also, the more restrictive you are, the more generous the gift can be.
A free anniversary oil change is also a great way to collect those all important email address from your customers. Have your Service Advisers tell people about the special and ask for their email address or mobile number. Most shop management systems allows you to create custom data fields which will allow you to record special dates for a customer. From this data you can do a monthly search and send a reminder email about your offer.
Like any special you should set limits on what the special includes and when it can take place. With so many different oil and filter requirements and wildly varied vehicles it is easiest to place a maximum dollar value on an oil change special. You can structure the special similar to a coupon with a maximum dollar amount discount. It is also a good idea to limit the offer eligibility to 30 days before or after the anniversary.
Random Draw Contest
Another idea is running a contest where each day a card is selected from a deck of playing cards and if the customer selects the card from the deck they get a free service or gift. It could be a car wash, car detailing, or some coupon deal shared with a local company that is popular like a bakery, car wash, car detail, or other non-competing business.
You can promote this special in a number of different ways. The best method is to email or text message the offer directly to select customers (you have been collecting email addresses for your customers haven't you!). Second promotional method is to promote the offer in your newsletter. Or prominently display the special on your website.
Just remember that the more restrictive the offer the more difficult and time consuming it will be for your staff to verify eligible customers.
Seth Godin, a noted marketing expert, says that the only way to win in today's business marketplace is to get people to talk about you. If you checked every oil change that goes through your shop to see if the person was eligible, wouldn't a surprise gift be something that your customer would talk about? I'm sure it would definitely impress the customer with your service and have them spreading valuable word of mouth advertising about your business.