Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If You Build It: Lesson in Marketing

Weekends are usually for fun and relaxation. I spent mines working instead. I almost didn’t have a choice. My car club threw a car wash hosted at a local auto parts supplier to raise money for an upcoming trip. We started bright and early at 10 a.m. (it was supposed to be 9 a.m.) on Saturday. It was bad enough that I had to spend my Saturday washing cars (because it was kind of mandatory) when I realized that there was an overcast and it had rained earlier. I took a peek at the weather and more rain was scheduled for the day. All I could think was “Man, this day is going to suck!”. Talk about a good way to start the day. Then I realized something I learned from reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book entitled Increasing Your Financial IQ….I could take this seemingly dreadful experience and learn something. But the dilemma was what exactly could I learn. I thought about this the whole drive to the designated wash area. I finally realized what it would be once I got assigned me job for the day.
During last year’s car wash I was recruited as a wash attendant. I thought that would be the deal this year, but I ended up being the designated sign holder. At first, I got a little disappointed with the job but then I took a second to look beyond the position to see what it is I could learn to improve my business skills. At that point it dawned on me that I was in the “marketing department”. I was responsible for attracting customers to the wash. It would be my responsibility for the flow of vehicles and in essence our cash flow for the wash. Now was the time to apply some things I’ve read about marketing and to gain real world experience about different techniques and the application of those techniques. Throughout our 7 hour day I experimented with different techniques. I tried using no sign versus using the sign. Then I tried being animated and talkative with passing vehicles versus being silent. I also tried holding the sign in different place versus not moving. I learned a lot from this experience. Here’s what I learned:

  • “If you build it, they will come.” is not necessarily true. The existence of the sign versus no sign made a significant difference in customer flow. I actually used the “no sign” technique to decrease flow when we got too busy.

  • Just seeing a sign is enough for some customers while others require a little “prodding” so to speak. I actually had to interact with quite a few customers more than a few times to convince them to get a wash.

  • There are a few people who even though they were close to getting a wash ultimately changed their minds. I had to be creative when trying to convince them to go ahead with the wash. I actually succeeded at closing quite a few of those “sales”.

  • Word of mouth is strong! A good number of customers came from others who either got a wash themselves or drove by and referred someone to us.

  • In the end it was not one technique, but the combination of a few that ultimately netted the highest return! We actually doubled our money we made versus last year, in worst weather no doubt.

All in all these were great lessons learned and/or confirmed through experience. It seems experience is the best teacher because I had the opportunity to compare techniques. So what I want you to take from this is that you take my lessons and try to find ways to apply them in your situation or future situations. Life is a great teacher and there are lessons to be learned everyday according to Robert Kiyosaki. I am inclined to agree. To get more lessons from Mr. Kiyosaki I suggest picking up some of his books. The information within is priceless. Also check out his blog to get some tips on current financial events. In the meantime, my question to you is: Have you learned anything helpful today that may further your financial knowledge? Think about it and have a great day and grow rich!

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