It’s October and that means two things: pumpkin spice + Halloween. No, like, really.
While it’s surely a cool treat to add pumpkin spice coffee to your snack area in the waiting room, I want to help you plan a really fun event for your community that will bring new folks to your auto repair shop, if you celebrate Halloween, that is. You’ll have the chance to meet new people, give tours of the shop, be a helpful resource to the community, and offer a safe Halloween trunk-or-treat experience to your community.
The purpose of this blog is to help you with all of the details needed to plan the best Trunk-or-Treat for your auto repair shop. It’s an auto repair shop marketing idea that will be easy, fun, and valuable for you and your community. Keep in mind this is maybe a bit longer than some folks might prefer BUT, with that said, it’s intended to give you as much information and helpful tips to pull of a great event. So pull from this what will work for you.
In this blog, I’ll lay out the plans in a way that helps you before the event, during, and after the event.
Why Host a Trunk-Or-Treat?
As a result of COVID, many families are hesitant to resume door-to-door trick-or-treating. Whether it’s the concern for health or the lack of homes participating, there’s more reason than ever for communities and businesses to offer events like this. Furthermore, even before COVID, families were losing interest in going door to door because of safety concerns. Now, families are planning block parties or attending community events like your shop’s trunk-or-treat.
It’s a great time to offer this to your community!
What is a Trunk-or-Treat?
Simple: a trunk-or-treat is a family-focused, friendly, safe event hosted in a parking lot where attendees open the trunk of their vehicle loaded with treats. The vehicles are usually decorated and attendees are dressed in costume. Children visit from car to car to receive treats.
Before Your Trunk-or-Treat
- Get Permits. Sometimes it is safer to ask for forgiveness than for permission. This is not one of those times. You don’t want to go through all of the planning only to have your event ruined by local enforcement ending your event because you failed to get a permit. Make a quick, simple phone call to your local city or county/parish to inquire about whether you need a permit for your event.
- Make Purchases. Think ahead about the items you may want to purchase for the event. It could be treats, promotional items with your shop logo, website, phone number, or fun things such as bounce houses or inflatables. This depends on how big or small you want your event to be. Take a moment to think ahead to your event and the things you’ll want. One idea: Halloween goody bags for kiddos to use when collecting their treats.
- Invite Partners. The best events are the ones done with others. Who can you think of that would be a great compliment to this business? Maybe a fun kid-friendly food vendor? How about a balloon animal sculpture person? A clown (personally, I hate and am seriously afraid of clowns, but that’s just me, haha!)? Ice cream or food truck? Think of who would be good to partner with and invite them to join you.
- Promote Your Event. The main goal of this event is to get some great marketing out of it. So don’t skimp here. Here are some ideas for promoting your event:
- Add it to your website
- Create an event on your Facebook page
- If you’re a member of the local chamber of commerce (or downtown development district, etc.), ﹣ let them know and ask them to help promote
- Add it to any local online community event calendars
- Notify local parent’s blogs and Facebook pages
- Schedule several social media posts about the event
- A save the date (by the way: don’t pick Halloween night as families will likely have other plans that actual night)
- A “details” post about the location, whether you’ll have security, how many “spots” you have in your parking lot, how people can sign up, etc.
- A reminder
- A post to tag any friends in the business who are partnering with you
- A post of photos when items arrive that you’ll be giving away
- A post for people to sign up (if you require this)
- A Facebook/Instagram “Live” to invite the community and share details about your event
- A countdown
- Send a press release to local media promoting your event
- Send out an email and text to your database inviting them
- Print postcard invites and leave them in your customers’ vehicles when they pick them up
- Send a direct mail card to your closest neighbors
- Hire Security. Maybe you don’t need this. Maybe you do. Think about your event and where you’re located. If this is something you need, make those contacts now to get this reserved.
- Hire a Photographer. Again, you might not care for this. If you have someone on staff or in your family, that can be a good resource for taking responsibility for taking photos, then great! If there’s no one you can think of, then consider hiring a photographer to take pictures for you. To be honest, casual, candid photos would be best. I am not recommending professional photography unless you have no one available for this crucial task. Have a “Selfie Station” set up where families can take a photo, but you also be sure to take a great shot of each family (more about that later!).
- Clean up! Make sure that you’ve prepared for your company to come over. You know how it was when you were a kid. Your momma would scream, “company’s coming over – let’s clean up!”. The same thing applies here. Put your best foot forward and get your shop in order, so you put on a great impression on your guests. An area not to forget: the parking lot! Where your guest will need attention. Take a good walk-through and remove any trash, debris, and any dangerous items that can be a problem the night of your event.
- Teamwork. Invite your techs and service advisors to have their own treat station setup. Ask them to clean up and decorate their spaces for the children who will come by.
- Get Organized. Have a way to collect contact information. Think digital, something that’s quickly done on the phone. You can go with a notebook – the old-fashioned written way – but you most likely won’t be able to read their handwriting. Another thing to think through ahead of time is how you’ll know who is in each photo. After the event, when you want to email an image to the attendee, you’ll need to know who is in the picture! Keep a record that puts the photos in order, a note reflecting what each person is wearing, etc. OR, they can write their contact info on a sheet of paper – or, better yet, a dry erase board and hold it while you take a photo of it. Then, take the actual image. Another fun, easy way to collect their contact info.
- A Giveaway! Another way to gather contact information for follow-up reasons is to put together a wonderful giveaway people will sign up to win at the event. Think of a really fun family basket that might include a gift certificate to the local pizzeria, a fun family board game, snacks for family movie/game night, etc.
- Plan Contests. If you want to, go all out with contests for the best-decorated trunk, the best costumes, etc.
- Setup: Think about the flow of the night and the foot traffic. Place trash cans throughout the space. Have staff or volunteers in specific areas. Think of a Q&A Info table and where it will be.
During Your Trunk-or-Treat
- Be A Great Host. The time has come, and you will want to be the best host possible. Anticipate needs. Know that folks may want to use your restroom (have plenty of toiletries, check multiple times that it is clean, and keep it nice and tidy). Ask some of your team to be available that evening to assist in hosting. Allow them to show people around, give tours and be the welcoming committee.
- Make Personal Visits. Take the time to go to each vehicle. Thank them for spending time at your event that night and for choosing your Trunk-or-Treat. Answer any questions they might have. Point them to the restrooms and invite them to take a tour of the shop. Let them know you’ve got a few treat stations inside (have a station set up at the Service Advisor’s desk and each of your technician’s toolboxes). Take every opportunity to showcase your shop, your team, and your company’s culture. You want them to get to know, like, and trust you as much as possible from this event.
- Collect Contact Info. One way to easily collect info is to ask for it after taking a photo of each family. A perfect picture that you can send to them after the event. Not only will you post them online, but you’ll also email the photo to each family, AND I even recommend uploading them to your nearest Walgreens photo lab and print a 4×6 or a 5×7 (you’ll be amazed how reasonably priced these are) then mail one to each family. See why they’ll want to give you their name, email, and mailing address? 🙂
- Post “Live.” This is an excellent opportunity to “go live” and share what’s happening at your shop! Have fun and maybe even do it a few times!
- Get Those Photos! Whether the photographer is you, a team member, a family member, or a professional photographer, you will want to capture as many photos as possible. You’ll need them after the event!
- Setup the Giveaway. Put the basket on display and invite guests to enter to win by providing their contact info. Give it away at the end of the night. Don’t forget to judge and give away awards for the best-decorated trunk and costumes.
After Your Trunk-or-Treat
- Follow Up. Send thank you’s. That could be a simple post on social, an email to your attendees and partners, or actual thank you notes. Just be sure to share a thank you, however you can. Post a photo of the basket giveaway winner.
- Post a Photo Album. You took a ton of photos, now take to your Facebook page and create an actual photo album. On Instagram, you’ll be limited to 10 pictures, so either add 10 photos to a post or create multiple posts with different images.
- Send Photos. You collected contact information for this moment. You can email the photos to your attendees, print, mail, and post them to social media. Another thing you can do with images is to share them with specific local press. Often your local magazines will have a section in the back where they print photos of local events.
- Write a Blog. Savor the moment and capture it in writing. Sit down after the event and tell the story that will forever live on your website, including a photo gallery. Thank those who helped put it on, those who were there to participate, and the attendees.
Over The Top Extra Ideas
- Setup games such as hopscotch, carnival games, bounce houses, guessing games, and more!
- Go with a theme! A fun idea is to theme the event. Some fun themes might be Christmas in October, Luau, Football, Superheroes, Western, On The Farm, Under The Sea, etc.
- Set up a haunted house area in the waiting room or even in the shop.
If you’ve ever taken one of my classes before, you’ve heard me say that my content is like a buffet. If you don’t like broccoli, don’t eat the broccoli. The same thing applies here. You can make your event as simple as you want or as big and elaborate as you wish. Go Big or Go Small. Just Go!
I’d *LOVE* to see your photos and the event overall. Please share with me! I hope that this has inspired you to get going! Have fun, meet some new folks and make some new customers too. Happy fall! Happy Halloween!