Tom Denton: Things I wish I knew then… Part 5

…that I know now!


To me the main thing about marketing is how to attract the right sort of work. We will come back to this later so let’s look at what marketing actually is. It can be put into two main categories:

  1. identification of consumer needs
  2. implementation of strategies for meeting these needs.

The first of these is about consumer behaviour and devising an effective marketing strategy. The second is about the processes known as the four Ps:

  • product placement
  • packaging
  • pricing

At first view this may look like it doesn’t relate to selling a service, which is what most of us do, but think of this as our product. Where we place it in the market is a key decision. Two simple examples to compare are when doing a promotion. Leaflets stuffed through every letterbox in your area, will attract a certain type of customer, whereas a targeted Facebook advert will reach a different type. There is nothing wrong with either approach, but the type of customer you seek should match your type of business.

How you package your business may help you understand further. Is your workshop clean, bright and dripping with all the equipment you need? Do the customers have a top of the range comfortable reception to wait in and drink free cappuccinos? Alternatively, and there’s nothing wrong with this, do you work in a barn down a muddy track and have none of the frills?

We looked at how to calculate the basic hourly rate earlier. The actual pricing you use should be more than this and again it will put your business at a certain place in the market. I often hear of people complaining they have far too much work and can’t cope. Putting your prices up will reduce the workload because you will lose some customers, but you will keep the level of income.

The bottom line is when you are looking for ways to increase your sales – stop and think of the four Ps! I really wish I had known and understood this many years ago.

Figure 9 A business plan can be flexible but write it down and know where you are heading (Image by talha khalil from Pixabay)

A big part of how you decide what segment of the market to aim at is based on what it is you are able to do. Keeping up to date and learning about new technologies and skills is essential.


Our industry is a challenge because new technologies and systems are appearing all the time. We have to make a choice: keep investing and keep up, or miss out. The current trend for electrification is a good example of a momentous change – one of the biggest ever I think.

I used the word invest on purpose. It obviously means spending money, for example, on new equipment, but it also means spending money on ourselves and our knowledge. Training and learning is an investment not a cost.

Training can be as simple as reading good textbooks – please visit this site for more details on the best books that are available anywhere in the world:

There are lots of opportunities for free training, webinars, YouTube, live events such as Automechanika Birmingham for example, but there are also some excellent courses that you can attend and really immerse yourself in the subject for a few days. I know all the points about time off work, but for example, after attending a diagnostic training course, if you can do the job much quicker (for the same charge out rate) then you will soon catch up.

Figure 10 Did I remember to mention the textbooks?

Ongoing training is often described as continuing professional development (CPD). The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) have a professional register that you can, as a member, join for free. It is a great way to log the CPD you do as well as finding out what else is available. Visit: for more details.

Next time, why apparently insignificant details are important.

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