The Art and Science of Selling Auto Service

About Zed Daniels

The Art and Science of Selling Auto ServiceI flunked 5th and 7th grade. Went to summer school most every summer during high school and college. Got kicked out of college because of bad grades, fought my way back in. (It was either that or Viet Nam.) I left 4 years of college just 8 hours short of my degree. School was not my thing.

At last, something I enjoyed. 1972, first job out of college, Stewart-Warner corp. Chicago. Started as product specialist in the Alemite division. Transferred to the instrument division as youngest regional sales manager in company history in just 3 years, even with 9 months active duty in the Navy in the middle. The gasoline was already in my blood.

My Dad, pulled me away from all that to watch him develop the Mr. Coffee marketing plan. Joe Dimaggio helped us sell $49.95 coffee makers up against $14.95 percolators, and we captured 50% of the coffee maker market at its peak. The greatest success story in the history of the housewares industry at that time. Then we turned around and did it again with the La Machine Food Processor, taking 45% of the food processor market away from Cuisinart. It was magnificent times.

1984 – we moved to Houston to start a family business. 4 retail stores in major malls, a brother in each store, I was general manager. I hated it and got out within several months to go back to my first love, advertising. But while in retailing I learned something. We were bombarded daily with advertising salesmen, who knew absolutely nothing about advertising. They were simply trained on how to sell their product – but their advertising strategy, approach and content broke every rule in the book. I saw a niche and jumped in.

With a wife, 2 boys and $10,000 Dad gave me to get started – I jumped into the hellish world of small business ownership. I started my own advertising business working with small companies, but using the tested and proven advertising methods I learned on the national level.

Within weeks I visited with a guy who was a local printer who had seen some of my materials. In our meeting at his print shop I told him what we did, how we did it and why. He literally jumped up from his chair, ran into the press room and stopped the press. I asked him why he did it and he said, “After what you just told me, the advertising post card I am running for my auto shop friend won’t work!” He was a man of integrity. He made a call and we went to see his friend.

It was a 3 bay shop with an RO average of about $80. The owner told me, “Zed, I am tired of bringing people in who just take advantage of our coupon but won’t do any other repairs, even though some of their problems are serious safety issues. I want to bring in people with money!”

I said, “I can help you with that,” and the first auto service marketing Ad-Card was born in 1984. We took his RO average from $80 to over $245 in just a matter of several months and filled his shop with Prime Customers – customers with nice cars and the money to spend on them. In a couple years he moved into a brand new shop with 8 bays, and today he has the most beautiful shop in Houston, with 20 bays, staffed with all Master Techs and is doing well over $2 million in sales.

Well That Was It! Auto Service Marketing Was My Niche

Today, we have independent auto service clients across the country, each one with Ad-Card exclusivity in their local market so we can pull out the Prime Customers for them, and them alone. Fully integrated advertising programs from direct mail to web site design and search engine management, all created to bring in the customer with money. That’s all we do, and we do it very well.

Dad taught me the art and science of advertising and showed me how to attract customers with money. I applied it to auto service, and the history is still being made for shop owners with the wisdom and guts to try something different.

Thanks Dad! – Zed Daniels