Auto Service World
Feature   April 1, 2005   by Auto Service World

Countertalk: Be Car Care Aware Planning

Getting stranded is no fun. In May, Be Car Care Aware efforts will ramp up to help get the word out about car maintenance.

Despite some strides being made in terms of consumer awareness, there remains a great deal to be done.

In Canada, the Be Car Care Aware campaign makes its first big play of the year in May. Organized by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, the campaign will be kicked off by a media tour that will hit a number of cities across the country.

A similar campaign that was launched last October generated strong coverage in both print and electronic media. Everything from small community newspapers to national television programs jumped on the bandwagon, resulting in millions of Canadians getting a hit of car care awareness.

For jobbers, May is a prime opportunity to promote car care with the consumer and the trade customer.

And, as a counterperson, it is quite likely that at least some of this responsibility will fall on you.

First, then, you should know what it is all about.

“Be Car Care Aware” is a consumer education campaign about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair. The campaign is in response to a call for action from leaders in the automotive aftermarket industry to capture a share of the estimated $2 billion in annual unperformed vehicle maintenance in Canada.

The goals of the campaign are to build awareness and knowledge, and to prepare consumers to make sensible decisions about their vehicles. As awareness builds, consumers will take action, thus reducing vehicle neglect. Reversing unperformed maintenance will increase profitability in the aftermarket, conserve energy, improve highway safety and benefit the environment–and benefit consumers too by increasing their vehicle dependability and longevity, as well as maintaining or increasing the value of their vehicle.

Built around three key message areas of safety and dependability, the environment, and maintaining and enhancing vehicle value/pride of ownership, the campaign is designed to represent and engage all segments of the aftermarket industry. The Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA) is spearheading the campaign on behalf of the industry, with Car Care Canada serving as the brand and messaging source. AIA is committed to educating the consumer about auto care, maintenance and repairs on behalf of the aftermarket industry.

The campaign originated in the United States through the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) and its branding voice Car Care Council. Car Care Canada adapted the campaign to meet the unique needs of the Canadian marketplace.

Recent surveys in the U.S. found that there were some key areas where consumers fell short in their car maintenance:

* 38% of cars had low or dirty engine oil.

* 54% had low tire pressure.

* 28% had inadequate cooling protection.

* 19% needed new belts.

* 16% had dirty air filters.

* 10% had low or contaminated brake fluid.

Where You Come In

While the key target of the campaign is to drive consumers to the professional service and repair facility, primarily the independent sector of course, this does not mean you do not have a role to play.

In order to get the word out, and to assist shops in promoting better maintenance packages, the AIA has stated that it is relying on the jobber sector’s “feet on the street.”

One important method you can use to help is to obtain marketing kits from the AIA for some of your key customers.

Automotive Service Provider kits are available for contributions of $250 and include:

* Service Schedule Counter Mat

* Service Schedule Poster

* Service Schedule Mirror Hangers (100)

* Be Car Care Aware Banner

* Under the Hood Brochures (100)

* Car Safety Month Poster

* Car Care Month Poster

* Door Decals

* Listing on Be Car Care Aware Website for one year.

Similar wholesaler kits are also available.

One of the areas that service providers have found to be interesting is the website, which can help them communicate care maintenance issues with their customers. Using simple graphics and explanations, the information can be particularly helpful as a third-party source of information, which can also improve the credibility of the professional’s statements.

It is no small point to emphasize that while both men and women are being targeted with the campaign, a certain emphasis has been placed on encouraging women to take a more active role in their vehicle maintenance.

Accordingly, even the spokeperson chosen for the English media campaign is a woman, racer Kelly Williams. A key reason the campaign was judged to be so successful was that she was able to put a friendly face on car maintenance that had been missing from previous attempts to “get serious” about car maintenance.

Further to this, the AIA has also published “A Service Provider’s Guide to Hosting A Successful Women’s Car Care Seminar” (see sidebar). Many of the points made in the guide are designed to help you and your customers create a non-threatening atmosphere. It should be noted, however, that this does not apply just to women; men are not always as savvy at automotive maintenance as stereotypes might indicate.

To fully capitalize on the Be Care Care Aware campaign, there are some easily planned efforts that can help.

Advertising is, not surprisingly, a very good place to start, but it is not the only thing you should do. If you do embark on some advertising, don’t forget to see what marketing allowances you may be entitled to, but don’t use these just to reduce your expenditure; use them to extend your program.

Also use methods that are free or almost free, such as signage, posters, regular newsletters, or e-mails.

Scripts for radio spots are available, as are car maintenance bulletins for print media.

A little networking has also been known to be effective. If you’re planning a clinic, get on the phone to community groups and clubs to ask if they will help you get the word out.

Regardless of what you do outside the store, you should also give some attention to the showroom. In May, the key focus will be on caring for your car, so you should make sure that polishes and waxes, as well as all fluids and regular maintenance items such as wiper blades, are well stocked.

You don’t want to be promoting car care and then be unable to capitalize on it.

All it takes is a little planning.

For more information on the Be Car Care Aware campaign and resources available to help you, visit, or call the Automotive Industries Association of Canada at (613) 728-5821.

Helping Women Take Care of their Cars

A planning guide available from the AIA offers the following points when planning a clinic for women:

–The beauty of a car care seminar is that its simplicity or complexity depends on you. It should be well thought-out in terms of time, physical space, budget, participants and staff. Remember that your event doesn’t have to fit any specific format, but it must be workable.

–Begin by talking to your staff and then to some of your best female customers. What would they like to learn? What day or night of the week would be most appropriate? How much time would they be willing to invest? What would inhibit their participation?

–This event takes teamwork. That means getting buy-in from your staff and vendors. Make certain everyone understands the benefits of this project. Ask techs to be available for hands-on demonstrations. (Ask them to start saving old parts and components needed for exhibits.)

–Service writers and parts people should all be involved and visible. Giving participants “face time” with your staff increases their level of trust.

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