23 Feb 2024

How to disappear completely

I’m not here. This isn’t happening. Or, I might as well not be – No, really. Over the last few days, here at Parkit Motors we noticed a steep drop-off on fresh customers making enquiries. We continued to be booked up, but the backlog we had before Christmas seemed to start dissipating. Initially, I put this down to better time management on the part of the team, and everyone completing their jobs faster. Then I looked at the jobsheets, and realised that everything was happening at the same speed as usual, sometimes slower actually. Just leafing through these and looking at the times logged on some of these very simple tasks, words will certainly need to be had with…Arthur…oh that’s awkward, moving on.

Anyway, so we were quiet on the upcoming work front. We continued for a few days, and then I realised what had happened. Somehow, I really don’t understand how, Mrs P, who is in charge of the social media marketing for the garage, had switched off our Facebook page. It was completely down. Luckily, we could turn it back on again pretty quickly, but it made me suddenly aware of how reliant we were becoming on this platform. Now, we know a lot of our customers from years past, and we also have a garage management system, and we can send emails out to existing and previous customers, and we have our own website obviously. We also belong to a garage programme. However, Facebook is a bit like the high street and a town meeting and the parish noticeboard all rolled into one. People just happen to be there and find you. That is actually more useful than you realise, until it’s gone.

Other social media platforms are available, but that one works for us. However, this experience made me realise that we need to diversify, and lean more on our other routes to market. We are not specialists, so what we offer is convenience for our customers. We are a mainstay of the local community. Personally, I think we may try some of the more old-fashioned ways of attracting business. I’ve still got our old sandwich board. Now, if I take a photo of that, share it on Instagram and then put the board out in real life too and see whether the real one or the image drives more traffic to us, customer-wise.

When I started this business up I would be reading up on the latest technical developments so I was ahead of the curve for when those cars eventually turned up on our doorstep. These days I am reading manuals on marketing. I know this is largely the preserve of Mrs P, but I need to know what goes on. It’s all part of running the business. With 2023 looking like it is going to be a sandwich of challenges from all sides, with a thick and juicy ongoing difficulties filling, I want to make sure we can swallow as much as we can, but continue to operate as effectively as ever. Er, is it really obvious that I wrote this just before lunch?