Reconnecting Seasonally
by : Gerry Myers

Published on dealer-magazine.com, December 14, 2007

Making the best out of a cold, miserable winter is sometimes hard to imagine. Sales may slow due to bad weather and people expect end of the year clearance prices if they do come in. But what if the reason they were coming in was to hear a seminar called, “How to Protect Your Car’s Life Span by Properly Winterizing It”?

Granted, winter varies a lot across the country. Snow, blizzards and extremely cold temperatures occur in some locations such as North Dakota or Maine, but not so much in Arizona, California or Florida. However, as each season rolls around in your particular climate, it presents an opportunity to get women into the dealership for education, as well as for service.

Because of the many dangers associated with extreme weather, seminars should include more than just the technical information on what needs to be done to vehicles. You can provide women with “12 Tips to Winterize Vehicles” handouts as well as “The Dos and Don’ts If You are Stranded.” Additionally, you can create an emergency car care kit with the dealership logo as either a giveaway or product for sale at seminars. For instance, tools such as tire pressure gauges, ice scrapers or battery hydrometers are a few items that could be included. More personal items could include snack bars and first aid products. This will show women you are interested in the safety of her passengers as well as the vehicle.

The handout could include a list of things that drivers should carry in the car, especially if they are going on a trip. You should make you own list, but below are a few suggestions:

  • Mobile phone with emergency numbers programmed

  • Blankets

  • Extra set of warm clothes, shoes and gloves (if going on a trip, for each passenger)

  • Snack or energy bars and bottled water

  • A flashlight, ice scraper, flares, first aid kit, jumper cables, shovel and small tool kit

  • Abrasive substance such as kitty litter and shovel

You can have a checklist of what the dealership would do for a minimal fee, such as making sure the belts, hoses and tires are okay. Discuss the importance of checking the battery, antifreeze and other fluids’ levels. Make sure the windshield wiper blades are working effectively so as not to impair the driver’s vision in heavy rain or snow.

For the seminar to be a success, it must be packed full of useful information. You can discuss the difference in engine oil and coolants in the winter and summer, depending on your location; how cold weather affects the battery; what you should do if you are frozen out of your car; and other timely tips.

Since dependability and reliability are paramount for women, coming to this type of program will be of interest to them. After the first year, you may even want to include programs that target specific demographics. One seminar might be for single women and another for women and their teenagers. Getting women into your dealership for education will help them think about you next time they need a new vehicle or services you provide.

Winter isn’t the only villain as far as cars go. Every season has its unique needs. Following a bitter winter, your customers’ cars need a spring cleaning as much as or more than their houses. Provide a seminar along with a special spring cleaning car wash that will check out a number of areas on the vehicle, such as body damage from rust, sand abrasion, chips from stones and other menaces on the road. If it is feasible to wash the cars during the seminar, that would be an added bonus to get women there. Otherwise, handing out a coupon for a free or discounted spring cleaning car wash would provide a reason for them to return to your dealership for service.

Talking about spring rains and the need for correct tire pressure and tread is timely. Discussing the condition of the windshield wiper blades will be appreciated as few people think about the blades until it is raining, which is oftentimes too late. Getting women used to the idea of seasonal maintenance will increase your parts and service business. Bring women into your dealership for education, not sales pressure. Provide a service to women and their families and it will lead to sales.

“Summerizing your Vehicle” will be more effective in the states with very hot summers, but all drivers can benefit from knowing what to do and what should be checked, either by them or a dealership. Like in winter, a summer list will include checking coolants and other fluids, the air conditioning system, brakes, cracked belts, worn hoses and poorly working wiper blades. Tires should be checked, rotated and aligned. Information on how to keep your car from overheating and what to do if it does will be of interest to attendees.

If your dealership is in reasonable proximity to a lake, you can mention things to do to put less stress on their vehicles when towing a boat.


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