The 2017 Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Awards: Taylor Pickering
A Sense of Purpose
Marketing Director / Pickering’s Auto Service / Colorado
Thorough; comprehensive; meticulous; intensive; detailed―there are many adjectives that describe Taylor Pickering’s annual report analyzing Pickering’s Auto Service’s year in sales, car count, ARO, efficiency, and any other metric that makes up the business.
But, the word Pickering chooses to use? Overwhelming.
“It’s overwhelming for my brothers,” she says, referring to her siblings who also work at the shop. “It’s 30 pages. It’s got everything. It’s got a lot of graphs, pictures, stats. This is my opportunity to show what I’m doing and how we’ve improved.”
Really, from the get-go, that mentality has fueled Pickering: As marketing director for the two-location Pickering’s Auto Service in the Denver area, her daily workload aims to not only improve the shop’s brand and market appeal, but also to advance the shop’s KPIs and annual revenue.
While she’s the first to acknowledge that her focused marketing efforts aren’t the only reason the shop has experienced massive improvements since she started in 2014, her laundry list of agendas, events and efforts have undoubtedly played a major role in increasing car count by 25 percent and upping annual revenue from $2.2 to $2.9 million over the past three years. And because of her role in those improvements, Pickering is a 2017 Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Award winner.
In an industry where shops rarely employ marketing professionals, Pickering didn’t always envision a future with the family shop now in its fifth generation. In fact, when studying marketing at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, she only worked at Pickering’s Auto Service because it was a requirement to find an internship. But as Pickering earned her degree and weighed her options on the corporate level, she couldn’t shake the fact that, at the shop, she wasn’t just utilizing her degree―she was making a difference.
“I was confident that I had a future here to grow,” she says.
Her inspiration stemmed from the shop’s decades-old mission to be a true staple in the community, to help others, to form relationships with customers. If she could help advance that agenda? And spread the company’s reach to help as many people as possible? She was game.
But to do that, Pickering knew she’d have to form a gameplan―and if her annual report is any indication, you know by now that it meant some thorough brainstorming, planning and goal setting. Thus, Pickering began retooling the shop’s marketing budget. “Before, it was very sporadic” she says of the marketing spending, “and it wasn’t being being tracked all the way through like I was taught.” She evaluated how funds were being allocated and began to cut expenses for projects that didn’t yield strong enough returns.
“I wanted to pull back the reins,” she says. “Let’s not just throw a goal out there. Let’s have it be based on strategy and analytics, moving us in the right direction we want to go. Let’s plan for where we want to be in next 3-5 years, and then I’ll do what I can each day to get there.”
With goals of increasing car count and annual revenue―both of which, as established, have been achieved―Pickering first knew she needed to mend a “disconnect.”
“We had this feel from the 1950s, when your tech and service writer would build a relationship with you, have your best interests at heart,” she says. “But at the beginning, there was a lot of disconnect between mailers, the website, what you felt when you walked into the shop. I had to find a way to get people obsessed with our brand.”
A large portion of fixing that inconsistent message was promoting that brand to the public via newspaper articles through The Denver Post and Lakewood Sentinel. That PR focus eventually led to the shop winning several area auto care shop awards from Colorado Community Media and Denver A-List.
Beyond the media recognition, she also began improving the shop’s top-of-mind awareness by scheduling out social media posts, direct mailers and email campaigns that promoted a consistent, clear message about the shop’s intentions to form a relationship with customers. To this day, newsletters for the entire year are written one year in advance, freeing up time for her to focus on community efforts throughout the year.
Simply put: “Work smarter, not harder,” she says. And by mapping out the entire year’s marketing schedule, and then by reviewing the shop’s numbers in monthly and yearly reports, she does just that. She has been able to effectively map out the efforts yielding a return, from email campaigns to area business networking events, from SEO improvements to retention marketing campaigns, from mentorship programs to cookie deliveries―all of it is accomplishing what she set out to achieve from the very beginning.
And from that, she’s found a sense of purpose at Pickering’s Auto Service.
“My dad has always instilled that we don't fix cars―we build relationships,” Pickering says. “And being able to serve our community is the best way we do that. The highlight of my job is when I get to help people.”