The Car Care Award of Excellence winner doesn’t believe in advertising. He’d rather go directly to his customers to keep them informed about maintenance.
Stan Pilecki of Downtown Auto in Kitchener, Ont., brother of owner Greg Pilecki, says that since 90% of their business is by referrals, there’s no need to go head to head with the big chains in town with newspaper advertising.
“We have a 10 bay operation with seven licensed technicians, and we’re always full,” says Pilecki. Instead of advertising, he says that the company employs a direct marketing strategy. “We keep our customers informed with updates and newsletters. We try to educate our customers on preventative maintenance, and show them how we can help protect their investment.” Pilecki says that he’s convinced that part of the reason this approach is successful is the profile of the clientele.
“Most of our customers are quite high end and we’re located in the downtown, financial district, so we don’t see the 1982 K-Cars. Most of our customers have vehicles just out of warranty.”
He says too that the efforts of his primary jobber, Automotive Trade Supply, have helped them be successful in these pursuits and in business in general.
“They helped us out with more than just selling parts. We attended the E.K. Williams courses with them, and they’ve helped us keep our techs trained.” He says that the training has helped them run their business more efficiently and profitably.
John Zuk, president of Automotive Trade Supply, says that his business has worked hard to up the business training level of all its customers, and to give them other resources to help. “We try to train them to view their business as a business,” he says, adding that it is a continual process of discussing business issues and helping the customers review their financial statements, not just a one-time seminar. “It’s an ongoing process, and we want to help them, because if the garage dies, we die.” Zuk says too that they pass along items such as the Car Care Canada bulletins to all of their customers, but that Downtown Auto is among the best at using the information. “A lot of the guys don’t believe that their customers want that information. I suggest that they look at how Downtown Auto is busy all year round.” According to Zuk, Downtown Auto is also one of the best at understanding the importance of communications skills. “Greg is actually the owner, but he’s a technician, whereas Stan is the front man. He deals with customers very well. Greg is technically knowledgeable, so it really works for them.”
The Car Care Awards of Excellence recognize installers for their work and leadership in promoting the benefits of proper vehicle maintenance to the motoring public, either through their normal daily business practices or through a special promotion or event.
The nominees are put forth by AIA member warehouses and jobbers. Downtown Auto, this year’s grand prizewinner, receives four tickets and pit passes to a CASCAR Castrol Super Series race and one night’s accommodation at a hotel near the track.
Regional prize winners receive two tickets and pit passes to a CASCAR Castrol Super Series event.
This year’s regional award winning businesses were Temple Esso, Calgary, Alta., SMC Automotive, Burnaby, B.C., and Auto Laperriere of Gatineau, Que.
In addition to the prizes, all winners receive a commemorative plaque.
Car Care Marketing Resources
The Car Care Council of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada has a selection of bulletins suitable for distribution to your local newspapers or for use as advertising and marketing materials. The council also has six radio scripts.
Car Care Bulletins:
Caring For Your New Finish
How to Care for Your Car’s Paint Job
Get a Check-up Before You Leave on Vacation
My Kingdom for a Good Automotive Service Technician
How to choose a competent service garage.
Don’t Get Exhausted
Exhaust system maintenance and repair.
Oil Your Way to a Longer Engine Life
The importance of regular oil changes.
What’s a Reman Engine?
How to decide if a rebuilt engine is the right choice.
Save Money: Check Tires and Wheel Alignment
How tire and suspension service can save fuel and money.
Chill Out with Air Conditioning
How a/c works, in brief, and what service involves.
Each includes a commercial break.
Fluid Leak Quiz (60 seconds)
Environment (45 seconds)
Reman Engine (45 seconds)
Vacation Vehicle Check (45 seconds)
Be Wary of Overheating (30 seconds)
Oil Change (20 seconds)
To get a full selection, contact the AIA at (613) 728-5821.