Dealerships are busy places!
This is among the understatements of the year, right?
I experienced this firsthand early in my career with Ford Motor Company, when I called on thirteen Lincoln / Mercury dealerships in my sales territory of Akron – Canton.
Like any small business, there are competing priorities and limited resources, which pulls staff in many directions at once. It was my job, as a zone manager, to share information from the manufacturer, including new programs, incentives, trainings, reports and more to help them run their dealerships. Ultimately, the more successful each dealership was, the more vehicles I could wholesale to them, so we had shared goals.
I learned these five tips for dealership marketing through this experience.
Have a Plan
It is important to establish a business plan that includes marketing to shift your company away from reactive, last minute “fire drills” and missed opportunities to pro-active strategies and planned activities.
Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of daily operations can provide perspective about your business. Sometimes this means a trip off site to discuss and plan your goals and growth strategy for the year. Conduct a SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to assess your business situation. A memorable dealer with whom I worked once asserted to me that hope is not a strategy. Your dealership will not reach its goals unless you document your plans, gain buy-in from your staff, and work hard on implementation.
Know your Market
Consider external forces that impact your local market area (i.e., the opportunities and threats from your SWOT). These are typically things you can’t control. What is the health of the local economy? Are the demographics of your community changing? What are your competitors doing? Any marketing message should consider your local market conditions and opportunities.
Tell your Story
Every dealership is unique. In any customer-service business, the people make the difference. What makes your dealership different? What is your unique selling proposition? Analyze customer surveys, website or social media comments, and feedback from salespeople to identify your dealership’s strengths through your customer’s eyes.
Put the Customer First
“Everything starts and ends with the customer.” – Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM
A marketing plan describes the ideal customer, or target audience. Analyze your business the way your best customer would. When resources are limited, effective planning and narrowing your focus to reach your most profitable customer is most logical.
Track your Results
As with any business or marketing plan for your dealership, you won’t know how well your plan is working without measuring your results. Weekly sales meetings are commonplace in dealerships, but monthly or 45-day management meetings are equally important to review key metrics, such as website traffic, foot traffic, social media engagement, response rates, and close rates.
Your manufacturer’s representatives can typically share financial metrics for dealership operations in your market and regional area, which can be a benchmarking tool for your dealership. Review this data to confirm your plan is viable and that resources are allocated appropriately.
If your dealership is stretched too thin to incorporate these tips into your regular activities, let’s talk about how Appeal Marketing can help.