How to Serve Customers in a Recession
How to serve customers in a recession or a pandemic
As I write this, millions of people worldwide have lost their job due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only is this an issue with those who have lost jobs, but it also is an issue with the businesses that are still trying to service customers. With people losing jobs and the instability of the local, national, and world economy, customers are less likely to spend money on what they deem as not essential. Instead of paying for their car to be professionally detailed, they are instead roughing it and not worrying about getting it done or attempting to do it themselves.
What can a professional auto detailer do in this scenario where a recession is causing people to not spend money on services of this nature? Here I will provide guidance or tips to implement in order to still serve customers during a recession.
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Grow your detailing business
With less clients at the moment and less time being busy detailing cars, this leaves time to build and grow the business. What things have been put off because you were too busy? What type of work can you still do in order to still be investing in the business? In order to grow your business, you need to spend time on it. Here are a few things to get you started:
- Gain customers: cold-call, cold-email or put fliers on doors (wear necessary protective equipment)
- Make sure your website is up to date with the latest contact information, hours, details, packages, etc.
- Make sure your packages and pricing are tailored to your customers and what work you do best/most efficiently
- Reply to reviews on Google, Yelp, Nextdoor, etc.
- Start a youtube channel to gain exposure and look like an expert in your area
- Update your Facebook page
- Update your Twitter account
Reach out to existing customers
Even though some of your customers have cut back on spending, that doesn't mean their neighbors have as well. Go through your email list of customers and email every single one of them, you can say something similar to:
I know that this time has affected many of my customers, I wanted to reach out and see how you and your family are doing and if there is anything I might be able to assist you with. As you can imagine, a lot of my customers have lost jobs or had their salary cut back, I would like to help out in whatever way I can.
If you are an essential employee and still working, I would love to help you sanitize the interior of your car/van/truck on a weekly or even daily basis. I am offering this full sanitization service to existing and new customers, so if you have friends or family who you think would also benefit from this, you can refer them to me and you will get a XX% discount on any future service.
Also, if you are struggling financially, I do offer monthly payment plans or we can even work on a delayed billing plan until you can get financially stable again. I am here to serve you and your best interest to keep you and your family safe during these tough times.
If there is anything else you need or want to discuss, I am just a phone call away, call me anytime!
Not only are you trying to help your customer during this tough time, you are also offering services that can keep them stay healthy and give them peace of mind. If you had customers that cancelled services that were already scheduled, ask about delayed billing or monthly payment plans that you could offer as alternatives. Try not to discount your service pricing unless it is absolutely necessary, you also need to make sure you are making enough money to support your family during these times.
Upgrade your detailing business
Has your auto detailing business existed for a while and in need of a refresh? Now is the time to upgrade. Here are some options on what you can do to upgrade and update your business:
- Update old antique logos or styles
- Work on your marketing techniques
- If your business does not have an online presence, go ahead and get that setup as well.
- If you haven't already legally setup your detailing business, now is a good time to do that.
- Implement a customer relationship management (CRM) tool (like Housecall Pro)
- Implement an invoicing / accounting software tool (like Freshbooks)
Do not try and tackle everything at once, focus on one component of your business at a time. If you do not have appointments lined up for an afternoon, go through this list above and anything else you can think of and rank it according to what is important for your business. Now is the time to upgrade your business to the next level, for you that might also mean expanding your business by hiring out some of the work. Maybe now is the time you can find an apprentice to teach up and grow under your wing. With so many people out of work, it should be easy to find someone willing to put in the hard work to provide for themselves or their families.
Email and Text Messaging Updates
If you don't already have email templates written up, now is a great time to work on those. These email templates are used for quote requests, service requests, appointment confirmations, appointment reminders, sending invoices, sending receipts, following up with customers for next servicing, etc. Writing up these messages in advance will save you a ton of time, as a detailer, you know that time is money. This also will help with the quality in your emails because you can spend extra time on them now.
If you are using Gmail as your email provider, you can set these templates up directly in Gmail and save them to hotkeys for quick responding. If you use a service like Housecall Pro, you can have these emails be automatically sent for you. This will save even more time having software do this work for you so you can focus on detailing for customers and growing your business.
Inventory Products and Tools
Take an afternoon and go through your stock of products and tools to see if you need to re-order or get rid of some things. As a professional detailer, there are a few products we continually go to and use and others we don't use as much. Go through your buckets and bins and shelves and clean out what you don't need anymore. If you need to, go ahead and post the extras or unused products on Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, Letgo, etc. to earn some extra money.
If you know of some detailers struggling, you can always donate the products to help them out. During this time, everyone is struggling, so if you are in a good spot to help I would definitely recommend it. Please do not donate items just to expect something in return.
Are there products that you don't use anymore that you can potentially give to customers? You could get small spray bottles and pour in some ONR and give that to your customers to use as detail spray in between washes. Or dilute your favorite All Purpose Cleaner (APC) for your customer to use on interior dash cleaning. Little things like this could set you above the rest and is a good way of marketing if you want to even print out your contact information and put it on the bottles.
We went over a few tips to keep serving customers and growing your auto detailing business during a recession or pandemic. During a recession, business owners will have more time than previously. For some it will seem like a vacation, but those who are serious about growing their business will take advantage of this time to do so.
I hope your business is still succeeding even during this time, if you need more help you can always reach out on Facebook. As always, keep serving, learning and growing!