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Rhino Linings Hitting Home Run in the 'Hartland'

January 21, 2002

Arlene Castello used to work in the medical field, but for the past decade has used her gift of healing in the automobile industry as general manager of Rhino Linings by Hartland Collision Repair in Leavenworth, Kan. Although the dealership incorporated Rhino Linings just two years ago, she said the sprayed-on bed liner has already increased business by about 30 percent.

Owner Dan Hawes and Castello saw some ads for Rhino Linings and thought the bed linings would be a perfect complement to their collision repair service. “Dan asked me to do some research on the sprayed-on bed liner industry, so I found out everything I could about Rhino, as well as their competitors. Dan chose Rhino Linings because of their superior name recognition and product,” Castello said.

One of the first things they did to increase name recognition in their community was to have the coffee cups in the local diner emblazoned with the Rhino Linings logo. Every morning the crew meets at the Santa Fe Depot Diner for coffee in the Rhino mugs. The coffee shop is in the old train station, a historical building in Leavenworth, the first city in Kansas.

To further highlight the product and service, they rent a billboard close to the shop. “The sign is basically the same as the coffee cups, except with a big black arrow to our shop,” Castello said. The shop took advantage of Rhino Linings' co-op advertising program to finance these advertising strategies. “The co-op advertising is a big advantage because we can do a lot more advertising by using Rhino’s program,” Castello explained.

The co-op advertising program is just one of the key components of Rhino Linings’ comprehensive marketing program, according to Brian Marks, director of marketing for Rhino Linings USA. “Our aggressive marketing strategy includes national television and magazine advertising, national direct mail, national promotions and marketing materials dealers can use in their local areas,” Marks said.

“Dealers can also purchase brochures and promotional materials such as stuffed rhinos and key rings for giveaways,” Marks continued. “We also offer print advertising materials, radio spots and television spots. We provide display materials like posters, fliers and point-of-purchase display materials that they can place in their dealerships.”

One of the best marketing support services offered by Rhino Linings USA is their lead generation program, according to Marks. The company captures the name, address and phone numbers of all leads that result from Rhino’s national television and print advertising. Leads are then distributed to the local dealers. “Our national advertising helps to generate traffic to dealers all over the country,” Marks said.

Rhino dealers are provided with comprehensive training, which helps assure quality work, according to Marks. It includes two days at Rhino Linings USA and three days of on-site training at the dealership.

Castello and Hawes went to the San Diego-based Rhino Linings USA for the dealer training soon after they made the decision to purchase the dealership. “It was easy for us to understand how the equipment worked because we have the collision repair service,” Castello said. “The training was really good and they gave us a lot of support materials.”

After the pair had set up the booth and equipment at their shop, technical trainer Eddie Rodriquez visited the shop for three days of on-site training. “Eddie was great; he taught Dan and Dale Johnson, technician, how to perform the service. He was really great and a lot of fun to be around. We taught him what lightning bugs are!”

In addition to the initial trainings, Rhino Linings USA also provides ongoing telephone tech support and field tech support. “Tech sales support is free. We have regional sales reps that are out in the dealers’ territories who can help them secure accounts, estimate jobs, and grow their businesses if they so desire,” Marks said. “When we need an answer or to get help, it is really great to know we can always ask an expert,” added Castello.

The two services go hand-in-hand, according to Castello. “People come in for a bed liner and then ask us if we can fix the other things. Or they come in for body work and then ask if we can put in a bed liner,” she said.

Castello remembers one gentleman in particular who had a bed liner put in his truck and then put the truck in his garage. His dog scratched the paint on his truck and he remembered Hartland was also a repair service. He brought the truck back the next day and asked Hawes if there was anything he could do for his truck.

“We believe in doing everything we can to make sure our customers are happy,” Castello said. “We work with them so they are completely happy with our service when they walk out the door. Being able to offer the Rhino Linings in addition to the repair service has helped to ensure that. In over 10 years, I can count the number of people we couldn’t help on one hand. I think we are doing pretty well,” Castello said with a satisfied smile.

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