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As football season approaches, I am reminded of a story that was widely publicized last spring. Joe Flacco, having just signed a $121 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens which made him the highest-paid player in the NFL, decided to celebrate by going to McDonald’s. Why would a man who could obviously afford to celebrate anywhere choose a $7 meal at McDonald’s?
No one really knows for sure but it’s not the only example of high-profile people celebrating milestones in their lives at places that may seem unusual. Jeff Van Gundy also celebrated his contract extension at McDonald’s and Phil Mickelson celebrated his Master’s win at Krispy Kreme (much to the chagrin of McDonald’s, I’m sure).
In a recent research paper, scientists explore the idea of loyalty and fanaticism citing companies such as Volkswagen, Apple, Nike and Harley Davidson, among others, as having “cult-like following(s)”. They attribute this to emotional attachments developed through past experiences and over time. Business leaders have talked about creating brand evangelists; the importance they can have over the growth and exposure of your business. According to the paper, brand evangelists “can act as opinion leaders to bring others’ attention to the brand and attract new customers”.
While dealerships may not have the brand recognition of McDonald’s, cars have historically been a way in which people celebrate milestones in their lives. Countless parents have purchased cars for their children as they graduate college or to celebrate a significant event in their lives. You hear stories of these occurrences every day at your dealership, I’m sure. If you gave every child that came into your dealership with their parents a lollipop or popcorn, that child may start looking forward to their parents’ service visits.
People can also develop emotional attachments to a brand through their parents’ choices. Think of that cool Mustang a father owned but never let their child drive. When it comes time for that child to buy a car, a Ford Mustang will most likely be on their wish list.
Car dealerships have the opportunity to be a part of special moments in many people’s lives. For most consumers, the simple act of buying a new car is a special moment. Combine that with a life event (and the buyer’s emotional attachment and memories to that event). A car dealership can be a part of the memory of that event by enhancing it, even if it’s as simple as placing a bow on the car or helping with a surprise. In this way, the dealership can become a part of a positive life experience and begin a relationship that can last a lifetime.