Vendor Newsmaker Q&A: Meagan Johnson

Jan. 1, 2020
Meagan Johnson is a consultant with the Johnson Training Group.

Consultant Meagan Johnson of the Johnson Training Group gave a well-received keynote address at the 2009 Automotive Service Association (ASA) annual convention in Orlando, Fla. She and her father, Larry Johnson, specialize in offering training and advice about generational issues in the workplace. They are co-authors of the recently published Generations, Inc. From Boomers to Linksters, Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work.

Johnson provides some strategies for marketing to Millennials, also known as Generation Y, covering consumers who were born between 1980 and 1994.

A new study of Millennials is reporting that 40 percent of them plan on doing do-it-yourself auto repairs, versus 34 percent of the general population. How do you view Gen Y DIYers as a viable segment that parts suppliers and repairers should be pursuing?

Generation Y is not only a large segment of the market – there are over 72 million of them – they represent a significant portion of future sales for parts suppliers and repairers. According to the National Retail Federation, Gen Y spends an average of $200 billion a year of their own money, and within their families they influence another $300 billion to $400 billion a year in spending. If a parts supplier or a repair shop ignores Gen Y, it’s putting its future financial stability at risk.

The DIY Gen Yer is doing it themselves for more reasons than saving money like previous generations. A major motivator for Gen Y is planet sustainability. The DIY Gen Yers are often tackling these projects to be more environmentally sensitive. By fixing something themselves, they are not only being cost conscious, they are often trying to prevent a discarded part from ending up in a landfill. By using reconditioned parts, they are reducing the size of their own carbon footprint.

All repair shops and parts stores should capitalize on the “greenness” of Gen Y. Repair shops. They should have posters in their shops and on their websites that state how much oil they recycle or what they do to be environmentally conscious that their competitors do not do. Parts stores should have information on display in their stores and on their websites that compare the cost to the environment of buying a new car versus fixing and repairing the car you have. The information should be easy to see, easy to read and, most important, communicate clearly how the Gen Yer is being environmentally responsible by doing business with that repair shop or parts store.

The Gen Y DIY is also looking for an experience. Fixing or repairing something on his or her own creates a great sense of satisfaction and demonstrates to peers and family that he or she is self-sufficient.

PAGE 2

What are some of the best methods for reaching Millennials that a parts store can use to attract more business?

Many Gen Yers were raised by parents who were extremely attentive and doting – think soccer moms and stay-at-home dads. Consequently, they are used to having close relationships with the adults in their lives. So they are often looking to form relationships and emotional connections with the suppliers and part stores they use. This represents a golden opportunity.

Help them learn how to accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish and you’ll buy their loyalty. For example, a credit union we work with wanted to lure Gen Y customers from traditional banking institutions. The credit union recognized that younger customers often did not understand the basics of managing their own finances. By teaching them how to handle and manage their money, the credit union was able to significantly increase the percentage of members under 30 years of age.

The credit union developed and posted “How To” YouTube videos on its website. The videos lasted only a few minutes each and demonstrated various financial lessons like how to balance a checkbook, how to open an account, how to write a check and how to develop a personal budget. The videos were free to anyone, but each participant had to register with name, email address and phone number. The credit union could then follow up and invite each Gen Yer to visit the credit union to look at additional ways to help the Gen Yer achieve their financial goals. Parts stores are in a perfect position to follow the lead of this credit union by posting do it yourself videos on your website.

It’s important, of course, to have a way to capture the young shopper’s contact information while he or she is on your website. It provides a way to track their purchases, notify them when you post new videos, and personalize any advertisements or specials targeted to that particular Gen Yer. If they are required to register for a downloadable discount coupon, the odds they will do so rises.

How can a parts manufacturer or warehouse distributor assist parts stores in their efforts to target this segment?

In most industries, both manufacturing and retail benefit when they share information. It behooves manufacturers to listen to their retailers when the retailers can tell them how their Gen Y customers feel about their products and how they are using those products.

Hot Topic, a clothing store targeted to the younger set encourages their sales people to go to concerts and events that attract the Hot Topic customer. Hot Topic will reimburse their employees for concert tickets and admission fees once the employee completes a report – online of course – that sketches out how people are dressing, what are they doing and what new trends or “hot topics” are developing. The retail stores share this information with the manufacturer. The information helps the manufacturer develop new product lines, display pieces and promotions.

Whole Foods, a natural foods environmentally aware grocery store chain created a committee of teens called Teens Turning Green. These young people gave feedback and played an instrumental part in developing a line of products aimed at the younger consumer. The retailer and the manufacturer took part in not only listening to what the committee had to say, but how to implement their input on the manufacturing and retail side.

Parts manufacturers, distributors and stores can follow the lead of Hot Topic and Whole Foods and create an environment that encourages and rewards your Gen Y employees and customers to be your eyes and ears in the automobile repair industry. Create channels for the Gen Yers to share the information they learn and take action together to serve the Gen Y customer better.

PAGE 3

What steps can a repair shop take to gain Gen Y customers, and how can component suppliers help repairers reach this segment of the population with effective marketing?

Personalize! Personalize! Personalize!

Baby Boomers touted customization to attract new customers. Gen Xers expected customization from the beginning. Gen Y has turned customization into personalization. Technology has made it possible for a Gen Yer to have M&M candies with their initials printed on them. They can have action figures made in their own likeness, they can have a cell phone ring that nobody else has and they can design their jeans and sneakers on line to represent their own personalities.

When repair shops effectively personalize their marketing message to Gen Y, the message becomes less about marketing and more about reinforcement of the Gen Y’s lifestyle. This is also how a shop can build brand loyalty with their Gen Y customers. Personalization also means a shop does not have to target every Gen Yer, but only those they see as the leaders and persuaders of the target market the shop is pursuing.

For example, when Toyota first created the Scion, it rejected main-steam advertising such as TV and radio and took the automobiles to underground music events. The people at Scion knew that their selected target market – urban males – frequented these types of music events and this platform would be the best way to show Gen Yers that Scion was part of the urban lifestyle. While at the music events, Scion hired graffiti artists to spray paint the cars and turn them into mobile pieces of art. The newly decorated Scions could then be displayed at a variety of alternative types of music and cultural events.

Scion knew that when it successfully tapped into the urban male market, this customer base would take the Scion lifestyle message and pass it along to their friends.

The lesson from Scion is that repair shops need to go where the Gen Yers congregate and change their sales pitch a marketing message that supports the Gen Y lifestyle.

The greater degree component suppliers help repairers do this, the greater both sides benefit.

If an active social media presence is a key goal, how can a repairer or parts store best present themselves within these formats? What are some of the key dos and don’ts in communicating online with Millennials?

First off, have an online presence and pay attention to it. A common mistake many of us make is we put up our website, Facebook page or send a tweet and then we forget about it. Social media is like a garden. You can’t plant it and forget it – you must tend to it. I know business owners have a lot on their plate, and the idea of trying to mange their social presence may seem overwhelming. As two who finally bit the bullet and asked our 18-year-old assistant to teach us how to use Facebook, we can promise that the more you use it, the easier it becomes.

Give your Gen Y customers a reason (a discount on their next purchase or a free store t-shirt) to “like” your Facebook page or follow you on twitter.

When it comes to your Facebook page or your website, follow the one-third rule. Make one-third of the page informational with information that is factual, interesting or instructional to your customer, like the stats on a new part. Make one-third of the page quirky. This is where you let the personalities of your staff or customers shine through. This could include video footage of your staff singing the shop’s theme song, or pictures of the store’s mascot. The last third should be selling. This would include discounts, or price reductions for multiple purchases, or time-sensitive offers.

Is this something that a current management team can achieve, or is it better to recruit an actual Gen Yer to prepare the content?

If you do not have experience with social media, it would benefit you to get your social media savvy Gen Yers involved in the process. Do not miss this opportunity, however, to learn about social media and what it can do for your business. Be involved in the development of the content and the updates. As I mentioned earlier, we often make the mistake of not tending to our social media garden. It takes constant input of new and relevant information to keep your sites current and interesting to your Gen Y customers.

What are some of the key dos and don’ts in communicating with Gen Yers at the customer service counter at a repair shop or retail parts store?

When it comes to face-to-face customer service, Gen Y is a lot like most of your customers. They are all different! Someone like me, who knows next to nothing about how her car runs but loves her car, wants someone to tell me what a great car I have but treat me with respect when I ask what may seem like a stupid question. There are other customers, Gen Y and non-Gen Yers, who want a detailed explanation of everything done to their car, and then there are the customers that just want in and out as fast as possible. The customer service counter that employs a variety of generations and trains them on how to deal with a multitude of personalities is way ahead in the customer service game.

How would rate Millennials in regard to auto product brand awareness and product loyalty? How can product loyalty be built upon moving into the future as Millennials grow older?

As I mentioned earlier, Gen Y is at a point in their lives where they are open to establishing relationships with the brands and products they use. They are often looking for someone to help them achieve their goals, like the credit union we mentioned.

If you communicate with your Generation Y customers on their terms, and create products that support their lifestyle, you not only will have loyal customers, you will have an unstoppable fan base.

For more information, visit www.meaganjohnson.com.

Consultant Meagan Johnson of the Johnson Training Group gave a well-received keynote address at the 2009 Automotive Service Association (ASA) annual convention in Orlando, Fla. She and her father, Larry Johnson, specialize in offering training and advice about generational issues in the workplace. They are co-authors of the recently published Generations, Inc. From Boomers to Linksters, Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work.

Johnson provides some strategies for marketing to Millennials, also known as Generation Y, covering consumers who were born between 1980 and 1994.

A new study of Millennials is reporting that 40 percent of them plan on doing do-it-yourself auto repairs, versus 34 percent of the general population. How do you view Gen Y DIYers as a viable segment that parts suppliers and repairers should be pursuing?

Generation Y is not only a large segment of the market – there are over 72 million of them – they represent a significant portion of future sales for parts suppliers and repairers. According to the National Retail Federation, Gen Y spends an average of $200 billion a year of their own money, and within their families they influence another $300 billion to $400 billion a year in spending. If a parts supplier or a repair shop ignores Gen Y, it’s putting its future financial stability at risk.

The DIY Gen Yer is doing it themselves for more reasons than saving money like previous generations. A major motivator for Gen Y is planet sustainability. The DIY Gen Yers are often tackling these projects to be more environmentally sensitive. By fixing something themselves, they are not only being cost conscious, they are often trying to prevent a discarded part from ending up in a landfill. By using reconditioned parts, they are reducing the size of their own carbon footprint.

All repair shops and parts stores should capitalize on the “greenness” of Gen Y. Repair shops. They should have posters in their shops and on their websites that state how much oil they recycle or what they do to be environmentally conscious that their competitors do not do. Parts stores should have information on display in their stores and on their websites that compare the cost to the environment of buying a new car versus fixing and repairing the car you have. The information should be easy to see, easy to read and, most important, communicate clearly how the Gen Yer is being environmentally responsible by doing business with that repair shop or parts store.

The Gen Y DIY is also looking for an experience. Fixing or repairing something on his or her own creates a great sense of satisfaction and demonstrates to peers and family that he or she is self-sufficient.

PAGE 2

What are some of the best methods for reaching Millennials that a parts store can use to attract more business?

Many Gen Yers were raised by parents who were extremely attentive and doting – think soccer moms and stay-at-home dads. Consequently, they are used to having close relationships with the adults in their lives. So they are often looking to form relationships and emotional connections with the suppliers and part stores they use. This represents a golden opportunity.

Help them learn how to accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish and you’ll buy their loyalty. For example, a credit union we work with wanted to lure Gen Y customers from traditional banking institutions. The credit union recognized that younger customers often did not understand the basics of managing their own finances. By teaching them how to handle and manage their money, the credit union was able to significantly increase the percentage of members under 30 years of age.

The credit union developed and posted “How To” YouTube videos on its website. The videos lasted only a few minutes each and demonstrated various financial lessons like how to balance a checkbook, how to open an account, how to write a check and how to develop a personal budget. The videos were free to anyone, but each participant had to register with name, email address and phone number. The credit union could then follow up and invite each Gen Yer to visit the credit union to look at additional ways to help the Gen Yer achieve their financial goals. Parts stores are in a perfect position to follow the lead of this credit union by posting do it yourself videos on your website.

It’s important, of course, to have a way to capture the young shopper’s contact information while he or she is on your website. It provides a way to track their purchases, notify them when you post new videos, and personalize any advertisements or specials targeted to that particular Gen Yer. If they are required to register for a downloadable discount coupon, the odds they will do so rises.

How can a parts manufacturer or warehouse distributor assist parts stores in their efforts to target this segment?

In most industries, both manufacturing and retail benefit when they share information. It behooves manufacturers to listen to their retailers when the retailers can tell them how their Gen Y customers feel about their products and how they are using those products.

Hot Topic, a clothing store targeted to the younger set encourages their sales people to go to concerts and events that attract the Hot Topic customer. Hot Topic will reimburse their employees for concert tickets and admission fees once the employee completes a report – online of course – that sketches out how people are dressing, what are they doing and what new trends or “hot topics” are developing. The retail stores share this information with the manufacturer. The information helps the manufacturer develop new product lines, display pieces and promotions.

Whole Foods, a natural foods environmentally aware grocery store chain created a committee of teens called Teens Turning Green. These young people gave feedback and played an instrumental part in developing a line of products aimed at the younger consumer. The retailer and the manufacturer took part in not only listening to what the committee had to say, but how to implement their input on the manufacturing and retail side.

Parts manufacturers, distributors and stores can follow the lead of Hot Topic and Whole Foods and create an environment that encourages and rewards your Gen Y employees and customers to be your eyes and ears in the automobile repair industry. Create channels for the Gen Yers to share the information they learn and take action together to serve the Gen Y customer better.

PAGE 3

What steps can a repair shop take to gain Gen Y customers, and how can component suppliers help repairers reach this segment of the population with effective marketing?

Personalize! Personalize! Personalize!

Baby Boomers touted customization to attract new customers. Gen Xers expected customization from the beginning. Gen Y has turned customization into personalization. Technology has made it possible for a Gen Yer to have M&M candies with their initials printed on them. They can have action figures made in their own likeness, they can have a cell phone ring that nobody else has and they can design their jeans and sneakers on line to represent their own personalities.

When repair shops effectively personalize their marketing message to Gen Y, the message becomes less about marketing and more about reinforcement of the Gen Y’s lifestyle. This is also how a shop can build brand loyalty with their Gen Y customers. Personalization also means a shop does not have to target every Gen Yer, but only those they see as the leaders and persuaders of the target market the shop is pursuing.

For example, when Toyota first created the Scion, it rejected main-steam advertising such as TV and radio and took the automobiles to underground music events. The people at Scion knew that their selected target market – urban males – frequented these types of music events and this platform would be the best way to show Gen Yers that Scion was part of the urban lifestyle. While at the music events, Scion hired graffiti artists to spray paint the cars and turn them into mobile pieces of art. The newly decorated Scions could then be displayed at a variety of alternative types of music and cultural events.

Scion knew that when it successfully tapped into the urban male market, this customer base would take the Scion lifestyle message and pass it along to their friends.

The lesson from Scion is that repair shops need to go where the Gen Yers congregate and change their sales pitch a marketing message that supports the Gen Y lifestyle.

The greater degree component suppliers help repairers do this, the greater both sides benefit.

If an active social media presence is a key goal, how can a repairer or parts store best present themselves within these formats? What are some of the key dos and don’ts in communicating online with Millennials?

First off, have an online presence and pay attention to it. A common mistake many of us make is we put up our website, Facebook page or send a tweet and then we forget about it. Social media is like a garden. You can’t plant it and forget it – you must tend to it. I know business owners have a lot on their plate, and the idea of trying to mange their social presence may seem overwhelming. As two who finally bit the bullet and asked our 18-year-old assistant to teach us how to use Facebook, we can promise that the more you use it, the easier it becomes.

Give your Gen Y customers a reason (a discount on their next purchase or a free store t-shirt) to “like” your Facebook page or follow you on twitter.

When it comes to your Facebook page or your website, follow the one-third rule. Make one-third of the page informational with information that is factual, interesting or instructional to your customer, like the stats on a new part. Make one-third of the page quirky. This is where you let the personalities of your staff or customers shine through. This could include video footage of your staff singing the shop’s theme song, or pictures of the store’s mascot. The last third should be selling. This would include discounts, or price reductions for multiple purchases, or time-sensitive offers.

Is this something that a current management team can achieve, or is it better to recruit an actual Gen Yer to prepare the content?

If you do not have experience with social media, it would benefit you to get your social media savvy Gen Yers involved in the process. Do not miss this opportunity, however, to learn about social media and what it can do for your business. Be involved in the development of the content and the updates. As I mentioned earlier, we often make the mistake of not tending to our social media garden. It takes constant input of new and relevant information to keep your sites current and interesting to your Gen Y customers.

What are some of the key dos and don’ts in communicating with Gen Yers at the customer service counter at a repair shop or retail parts store?

When it comes to face-to-face customer service, Gen Y is a lot like most of your customers. They are all different! Someone like me, who knows next to nothing about how her car runs but loves her car, wants someone to tell me what a great car I have but treat me with respect when I ask what may seem like a stupid question. There are other customers, Gen Y and non-Gen Yers, who want a detailed explanation of everything done to their car, and then there are the customers that just want in and out as fast as possible. The customer service counter that employs a variety of generations and trains them on how to deal with a multitude of personalities is way ahead in the customer service game.

How would rate Millennials in regard to auto product brand awareness and product loyalty? How can product loyalty be built upon moving into the future as Millennials grow older?

As I mentioned earlier, Gen Y is at a point in their lives where they are open to establishing relationships with the brands and products they use. They are often looking for someone to help them achieve their goals, like the credit union we mentioned.

If you communicate with your Generation Y customers on their terms, and create products that support their lifestyle, you not only will have loyal customers, you will have an unstoppable fan base.

For more information, visit www.meaganjohnson.com.

Sponsored Recommendations

Access Carside OEM Repair Data with MOTOR TruSpeed

Now available on all Autel MaxiSYS Ultra Series tools, MOTOR TruSpeed Repair delivers expanded OEM service and repair data within days of being published by

ADAS Case Study: From 10 Calibrations a Month to Over 10 A Day

Originally published by Vehicle Service Pros, March 26, 2024

Autel MaxiTPMS TS900: 3-in-1 TPMS Tablet

Originally published by Tire Review, April 4, 2024

Ask The Expert: The Basics & Benefits of Bringing ADAS Calibrations In-house

Originally published by Vehicle Service Pros, March 26, 2024

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Vehicle Service Pros, create an account today!