Marketing for a Self Service (U-Pull-It) Yard
This is a continuing theme, using the web to increase your business. Though I am singling out self-service yards in this article, many of the same opportunities exist for full-service operations.
Many self-service owners think that marketing on the web won’t really help them because they don’t generally have inventory to post. AH, what a mistake that is. Let me list the ways you can use the web to increase your sales and your earnings.
By the way, I have a very successful U-Pull-It yard owner who didn’t see the opportunity. But he listened. When he took the ideas below and implemented them, his cost of goods dropped by 5 points and his sales increased.
- Buying cars-He implemented a Craigslist campaign to buy cars. As a result, he lowered the average price he was paying for a car and the cost of goods percentage. Such a campaign is relatively easy to do. He put up some keyword-rich pages after he did the research to determine the best keywords to use. He made sure that he had file named pages for his key terms. Within 6 months, he was getting e-mails from folks wanting to sell their cars. After a year, he was able to cut his advertising budget for buying cars by 75% and still buy more cars for less money.
- E-mail Campaign to stay in touch with his customers-He offered incentives (like free admission) to get his customers’ e-mail addresses and the type(s) of vehicles they owned. In just a few months, he had a list of 500 e-mail addresses that grew to 2,500 over the next year. Today, he e-mails his customers a twice-monthly newsletter with specials. As the newsletter started to work, he cut his print budget for sales by 50% while his admissions and sales kept right on growing. Imagine how you could impact your business if you could communicate with your customers like that. One client I have, a restaurant has gathered over 32,000 emails in 4 years. Do you think it impacts their business when they send 32,000 emails? WOW.
- Automated E-mail Campaign to notify customers of new arrivals-He now has a system in place to send targeted emails to segments of his list when a vehicle they may want parts off comes in. he is now able to notify customers when a vehicle comes in that could have parts they want. How much better could your sales be if every driver of a particular vehicle type knew when you had a vehicle available that matched theirs? Try it and see what it does to inventory turns for parts for that vehicle.
- Increased exposure for his web pages in Google-Partly as a result of his Craigslist ads, which have live links to keyword-rich terms on pages within the site, he gets greater respect for terms he is targeting to bring traffic to his website from Google. He has found his way to page one in Google for many of his best keywords.
- Keeping his customers informed about inventory and increasing his exposure and authority in Google-He did blog postings daily with new inventory, with key words. The search function on his site found those entries for customers, with pictures, and Google displayed his site when keywords were typed in, like “used engine S10”.
Some of you are saying “Ron, my customers don’t use the web very much so I can’t afford to invest in upgrading my website.” That’s what my client said. I asked him to ask his self-serve customers whether they used the Internet to shop for parts. More than 80% said YES! His results prove that an effective website and smart, low-cost web marketing are THE BEST WAYS to build a self-service auto salvage yard business.
Remember only you can make business great!
Ron Sturgeon, founder of Mr. Mission Possible small business consulting, combines over 35 years of entrepreneurship with an extensive resume in consulting, speaking, and business writing, with 6 books published. A business owner since age 17, Ron sold his chain of salvage yards to Ford Motor Company in 1999, and his innovations in database-driven direct marketing have been profiled in Inc. Magazine. After the repurchase of Greenleaf Auto Recyclers from Ford and sale to Schnitzer Industries, Ron is now owner of the DFW Elite Auto suite of businesses and a successful real estate investor.
As a consultant and peer benchmarking leader, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plain-spoken style, providing field-proven, high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve.
Ron is a web expert, but he is also an expert in helping all types of small businesses become more successful and more profitable. He has helped owners in industries from restaurants to law firms with a wide variety of business issues, including sales, promotion, production, financial measures, business strategy, and planning for startups. Whatever your unique challenges, Ron can help you.
To inquire about peer benchmarking, consultations, or keynote speaking, contact Ron by calling 817-834-3625, by emailing rons@MrMissionPossible.com, by mailing 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or online at Mr. Mission Possible.