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James Schaefer

James Schaefer Chief Operating Officer

Exclusive Blog Posts

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Marketing your Dealership 101

“You will not find a lower price on any models except OUR lot!!!”  Really?  Are consumers that naïve to believe that?  And you just spent $2,500 to produce this commercial and another $10,000 a month to run the spot over the course of 30 days.  Don’t even mention the fact that circumstances beyond your control can hinder your target audience from listening to your message.

So what can you do?  The previous management team before you did the same thing.  Since the invention of Television and radio, Dealerships have been using the same marketing campaigns.  Is it a surprise that dealerships are achieving the same results?  Is it a surprise that turnover continues?  It is insane to think you will not see the same fate as the previous team if you do not change your business practices towards your customers.

Albert Einstein once stated, “Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting the same results is the definition of insanity.”  We laugh and chalk this up as a great proverb, but do we fall into this same trap?  I mean think about it, Albert didn’t even remember his own phone number because he said he could look it up.  Would you follow someone who can’t even comb his hair?

 

News Flash!  Consumers are smarter than we give them credit for.  Consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before.   Your consumer can find anything anywhere at any time of the day or night.  In short, your consumer has choices, so what separates your dealership or for that matter your business than anyone else.

There have been some “cute” marketing strategies that give a consumer an apple pie or an umbrella for making a $25,000 purchase.  That’s right, the dealership is giving an apple pie, or umbrella to a consumer to say “Thank you” for making the second biggest purchase of your life.  However, what happens when the apple pie is gone or half of the country is in a drought.  There have been dealership marketing strategies that have given a wash bucket and car washing supplies for purchasing a $30,000 vehicle.  Nothing says, “Thank you for buying this great vehicle, think of us when your car is dirty!” like this idea.  Even banks used to give a toaster to their consumers if they deposited their money with them, and the consumer was able to get their money back at any time.

The thought does not count anymore.  Gimmicks do not work if a dealership wants to buy a customer for life.  Consumers want to know that you truly care about taking money out of their back pocket.  Business 101 and for that matter Sophomore Economics  Class will tell you that if a business will make a customer truly feel valued than the business will earn the customer.

How do you earn a customer?  It’s easy, but done less than one would truly think.  First, say “Thank you.”  Do your sales people say, “thank you after every sale”?  Is the thank you done with sincerity?  Second, remind the consumer that you care about them at a time when the consumer isn’t thinking about you.  Holidays, Birthdays, a year after they made their purchase, and two years after they made their purchase from your dealership are great times to let your customer know you are thinking of them.  It allows the customer to associate a happy time in their life with your company.

How do you create excitement for the customer to want to share their experience with all of their friends and family?  This is where the challenge comes in.  However, a challenge is just an opportunity to build your business for years to come.

Once you create an exciting delivery then you want to market that delivery to everyone to see.  The most effective way to market the delivery is by having your customer market their experience to all of their friends and family.  Human nature gravitates towards the positive experience.  We are a society that desires others happiness.  With the invention of the World Wide Web, potential consumers can now see this excitement through countless numbers of Social Media Sites.  Think about if you were looking at Facebook around 11 AM during the workday, and a friend of yours posted that they were about to take a bite out of a double meat, double cheese, bacon burger topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms.  Next, think about if they shared where they were eating that burger.   Where and what do you think you would be eating by Noon?  

In today’s world, people will share what they were eating for breakfast or lunch.  Why wouldn’t they want to share their experience about the second biggest purchase and in some cases the most important purchase of their lives?  The key is to create this opportunity to share without begging a customer to do it for you.   Now you have earned a customer, and allowed them to tell the world about their positive experience.  This will help with additional sales, referrals, and fixed operations revenue.  (Customers will continue to service their vehicle where they feel valued and that is before we talk about incentives for the customer.)  Creating a customer for life is next.

Earlier in the article we talked about Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Try these simple practices, and watch your customers and their friends and family continue to buy from you year after year.  Your dealership will be able to earn higher gross per vehicle while selling more vehicles.  That is truly insane, but in a good way! 

Jim Bell
Nice write up James and great points. Salespeople have got to stand out more than ever before with all of the competition. With a customer visiting only 1.4 dealerships today before making a purchase, how are you going to stand out? Do you get an email or an address to actually send a thank you note? Do you send them a text thanking them? Do you send a video to them? We all have to stand out and we all have to find our niche to make it work.
Glenn Pasch
James, great article. As Gary Vaynerchuk said last year at DSES, "Your grandparents are better prepared to do business today than you are" (paraphrase I am sure) but what they did each day to build relationships, show appreciation etc is what we take for granted today. Focus on people versus shoving price and "prizes" at them. One other thing to add, what they find online better match what they see on site. Make sure you are marketing your reviews and what you do for the community on site. thanks again for article.
Glenn Pasch
James, great article. As Gary Vaynerchuk said last year at DSES, "Your grandparents are better prepared to do business today than you are" (paraphrase I am sure) but what they did each day to build relationships, show appreciation etc is what we take for granted today. Focus on people versus shoving price and "prizes" at them. One other thing to add, what they find online better match what they see on site. Make sure you are marketing your reviews and what you do for the community on site. thanks again for article.
James Schaefer
Jim, Thank you for reading my post. You hit the nail on the head identifying consumers visiting dealers 1.4 times before they make a purchase. Our theory is to make sure that we reach 100% of the consumers. It is tough to do it, but we have found a way no matter what medium a consumer subcribes to (electronic or direct mail). You are right- dealerships must have a plan and be diligent in executing that plan. Thanks again for the comments...
James Schaefer
you got it Glenn! Thanks for reading my blog and adding your positive comments.

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