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SHOP STATS: Car Crafters   Location: Albuquerque, N.M. (7 shops)  Innovators: Jim Guthrie, owner  Average Monthly Car Count: 600 (estimated)  Staff Size: 190 (total)  Shop Size: 250,000-300,000 square feet (total)  Annual Revenue: $25 million (estimated) 

What It Is: 

A plush toy in the shape of a crash test dummy that Car Crafters offers as a gift to customers. 

 

The Inspiration: 

Kevin Klein, marketing director for Car Crafters, a multi-shop operation located in Albuquerque, N.M., says that the plush toys have been around since before he joined the company. 

He notes that Jim Guthrie, the owner of the business, wanted to provide customers with a fun gift to enjoy. And, he wanted to provide customers with a little relief from the stress of taking their vehicle to the shop. 

Since the connection between collision repair and crash test dummies is more than apparent, Guthrie decided to integrate the crash test dummy into the shop’s logo and make it a fixture around the shop. 

After adding the crash test dummy into the shops’ branding, Guthrie decided to go a step further and use the dummy to draw in new and returning customers. 

Then, Guthrie’s daughter, Kayla Scheer, got in contact with Jim’s corporate sales and checked to see if the company had a yellow plush that could fit the crash test dummy mold. They branded it and starting distributing them in 2008. 

 

What It Does:

The small crash test dummy plush toys serve as a marketing and customer retention tool at all seven shops. Customers are given the choice between a plush toy or other Car Crafters–branded merchandise like T-shirts and sunglasses. And, according to Klein, most of them choose the toy. 

This, in turn, causes a chain reaction. The plush toys are a reminder to customers of the service they received when they visited a Car Crafters location and they help spread the shop’s name. Whether it’s through word-of-mouth referrals or other drivers seeing the highlighter yellow plush toys around town, the brand gains more visibility. 

The larger crash test dummy plush toys are not for sale; they are kept in each shop so that customers can associate the small plush toys they receive to the seven shops across Albuquerque. 

 

How It’s Made: 

The plush toys are manufactured by Curto Toy Manufacturing Co Ltd. Klein puts in the order for the plush toys through Jim’s Corporate Sales.   

 

The Cost: 

The smaller plush toys are $6 each and the larger ones that are in each shop’s lobby are $100. 

Klein says that he puts in an annual order of 3,000 small plush toys that accommodates customers of all seven shops.

 

The ROI: 

According to Klein, the plush toys have helped business grow over the years. The seven-shop network gives out 3,000 small plush toys per year to new and returning customers. He also notes that these plush toys are more effective with repeat customers.

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