Salvaging Millions

Climbing above the competition:
A lesson from Charles Tandy
Part 5 of 5

Charles Tandy of Radio Shack fame once said, “Your most likely customer is the customer who just bought something from you.”

With that in mind, I held weekend events twice a year where customers could come in and retrieve their own auto parts. Twenty dollars would provide my customer with all he could carry. Some of my competitors had done that type of promotion quite successfully by creating $40,000 plus on a 2000-visitor turnout for a weekend.

But I thought I could do even better. I took a little different tack on the idea. Calling it a liability waiver, I made everyone sign in on a log with a full name and address. If they didn’t provide all the information, I wouldn’t let them in the event.

I invested a lot of money marketing my weekend sales events, sometimes spending as much as $20,000 to generate the necessary turnout. The way I thought about it, if I took in $50,000, I was still far ahead. The difference was in what I did with the mailing list I generated from the sign-in logs.

Six months later when I did the next All You Can Carry event, I spent only $10,000, which included the mailing to those same people. Six months later, I spent only $5,000. Each time the sales increased. Once they’ve been there, your customers will return if they know you’re having the sale. The key is finding a cost effective way to let them know.

Remember: “Your most likely customer is the customer who just bought something from you.” That’s marketing, but only if you go after it! Create mailing lists any way you can. Use post cards to promote special events. Increase your mailing lists every time you host a special event. Tell them on the postcard that if they will bring the postcard with them, you will give them a discount off their next purchase. That provides them with an incentive to hold onto the postcard. The postcard then becomes a reminder of the upcoming event.

Sometimes I even ran All You Can Carry events two weekends in a row. The All You Can Carry parts generally came from cars I was going to crush anyway, not from high-end inventory; so everything I sold at these events was cash I’d otherwise never have received.

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Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at WWW.autosalvageconsultant.com He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, rons@rdsinvestments.com or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.