For many auto upholstery shops, winter is a slow season. Cold weather keeps customers away and the added expenses of Christmas limit their ability to splurge on cosmetic fixes to their cars. Still, there are ways to ensure that your auto upholstery business doesn’t ground to a halt – but you’ll need to plan ahead (like right now!)
1. Develop a Winter Schedule
In most states, car show season runs from spring until fall (with the majority taking place during the summer). Given the nice weather and lack of any major gift-giving holidays, this period also tends to be most upholstery shops’ busy season.
While smart business owners are already working the car show circuit to boost business, the savviest of the bunch are also scheduling the most time-consuming jobs that they pick up (like full interior overhauls) for the slow season.
This way, they can spend their busy season handling all the walk-in convertible tops and headliners that they can handle, and have enough time to take care of the bigger, harder jobs when things slow down.
2. Provide Winter Services
Here’s some not-so-shocking news: most drivers complain that their cars get too cold during winter. However, few consider what an auto upholstery shop can do to keep them warm.
By shifting your shop’s advertising focus from convertible tops, headliners and carpets to more winter-appropriate services – like seat heaters, sheepskin seat covers and snow tarps – you can attract a whole new customer base.
Skeptical? A 2011 J.D. Power and Associates study on seat quality and satisfaction, revealed that 70 percent of vehicle owners said that they wanted seat-related amenities, such as seat heaters, installed in their cars.
3. Turn Upholstery into a Christmas Gift
Your customers spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year on Christmas presents – which leaves little money to spend on fixing their cars (especially on upholstery, which isn’t as vital to a vehicle’s operation as – say, its transmission).
Why not get in on the action by marketing your upholstery services as a possible Christmas gift? There are, after all, loads of car buffs that would love custom embroidered headrests or new door panels for Christmas.
The easiest way to do this is to sell holiday gift certificates. Package them correctly, market them to the right people and watch how many people – looking to give something unique this year – go nuts over the idea.
If all else fails and business still stays slow, consider using the downtime to make improvements to your shop, get your office paperwork in order and attend conferences and seminars where you can network with other industry professionals. After all, it’s called “slow season” not “unproductive season”.
We want to hear from you: How do you plan on avoiding or staying productive this upcoming slow season? Tell us in the comments section below!