Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2001   by Auto Service World

Countertalk For the Counterperson: Growing Demand for Winter Products

Knowledge Building:


While it may be hard to think about winter while the August sun is beating down, this is the best time to plan for the coming fall and winter selling seasons.

Among the most critical of issues that jobbers and counterpeople have to deal with is how to plan for the demand of seasonal items. The demand for many chemicals, additives, and even hard parts is dictated by the severity of the weather, so it is important to strike a balance between having sufficient stock on hand to get you through the unexpected rushes, but not over-committing to inventory.

Jobber News September 2000 had useful information on planning for purchases (you can also find it in our archives at www.autoserviceworld.com under Jobber News Issues), but you can effectively drive demand up with the right display and marketing techniques.

Chemicals are among the products which jobbers carry that can be treated as both an impulse buy or a service requirement. Using the right merchandising and marketing techniques can get you both.

Windshield washer is a good example. While most consumers will have been using a good summer formula, often with enhanced bug-clearing capabilities, they can suddenly find themselves with the wrong mix once the weather turns cold. Many consumers will continue to use their summer stocks unless otherwise convinced.

Capitalize on this opportunity by reminding consumers–through signage and car care tips to the local papers–that summer windshield washer does not contain sufficient antifreeze protection for our winters. Don’t forget to display it in a strong position within the store, too. If you get your timing right, you won’t have to sell on price, just on the features, advantages and benefits; “winter protection” as a premium if you will. Your trade customers can do the same.

Other items can be treated with an equally preventative approach. When a gas line is frozen, it’s a bit late to start looking for gas line antifreeze.

The same applies, more critically, to antifreeze/coolant. While it is still August, a savvy jobber salesperson should already be out garnering support for a garage winter checkup plan. It will help you gauge demand for garage stock in advance of booking orders, and aid in getting it moved along to the consumer.

One of the keys to remember about winter products is that few, least of all consumers, think about them at all. What they do think about is how they can’t see well, or their car won’t start.

Employing a strategy of marketing to both the consumer and the garage, accurate stocking, and proper display techniques, can elevate the need for these items in the minds of the consumers and the garages you sell to before it becomes a crisis situation.

THINGS TO DO

Talk to garages about promoting pre-winter inspection.

Estimate booking orders with demand in mind.

Start displaying winter products before cold weather hits.

Call local newspapers about getting winter car care tips inserted.


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