The car dealership industry can be a tough market. Not only does it have a bit of a bad rep, but cars aren’t often a quick and easy sell. In fact, you’ve got to get someone to come to your dealership in the first place. It’s a competitive market out there, and if you’re new on the block then you may have some catching up to do. First things first, you’ll need to make sure that you have a solid dealer management system in place to ensure that everything is running smoothly as you progress. A good dealership has a great management plan ready so that they can deal with anything that pops up when they are getting started.
To increase your chances of success not only do you need to show good service, sell quality vehicles and provide good prices but you need to look the part. If someone’s going to part with several thousands of dollars to buy a car from you, they need to know that you’re a serious business, that cares about them, about the industry and about the success of all involved. Building your brand helps to do that; it helps build your reputation. It helps to bring people in, bring people back (when they’re indecisive) and reduce any barriers to making that coveted purchase.
So how can you boost your dealership brand?
1. Use branded accessories
From floor mats to air fresheners and document folders there are many ways you can show potential customers who you are, that you care and you “go the extra mile”.
It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, but small niceties can go a long way to making the right impression, and leaving it there. When your branding is included, it reinforces that message, time and time again.
Branded license plates are a great way to get your dealership name around town. Installed to the front or back of sold vehicles each one essentially becomes a personal brand advocate. And even air fresheners can take on that role too, passengers might see it, the customer might want a vehicle in the future and remember it. Floor mats help to keep cars clean and pristine, show that this is a priority to you and reinforce your brand at the same time too.
2. Show customers you appreciate them
A little cheesy perhaps but this simple idea is effective and woefully underused. If a customer spends a lot of money, or is considering spending a lot of money on a car, they undoubtedly would welcome some appreciation. Many dealers get a bad rep for dedicating all their efforts into the pre-sale and very little to the post-sale. You can boost your reputation by showing some after-care appreciation.
An appreciation card can be used to say “We appreciate your purchase and we want you to be completely satisfied. If you need further assistance don’t hesitate o call”. In addition you can rightly add “If you know anyone thinking of buying a car, please let them know about us, or even pass on a card”. You could go one step further and mention any referral incentives you offer too.
Another idea is to let customers know you’re still there and you are willing to help. “We appreciate your business and your satisfaction is our top priority”. This says, as a valued customer they are important not just when making a purchase, but afterwards too.
Appreciation cards can also help to secure a new sale. Imagine someone’s come to your dealership, spent a reasonable amount of time looking at your cars and discussing what is they want. They haven’t bought anything yet. You could send them a card saying “We enjoyed meeting with you, thanks for the opportunity to talk”.
In fact, any of these messages can be just as easily sent by text message, email or similar.
3. Ask for reviews, and make it simple
Reviews play a huge role in how people perceive your dealership, the likelihood of them visiting and the chance of them making a purchase. They are pivotal to the reputation of most businesses operating today.
The simple fact is people rarely write positive reviews; unless they’re asked. Negative experiences are another matter. People are far more likely to remember a bad experience than a positive one – and want to warn others. So what can you do to turn the tide?
Always ask, but make it simple. People are busy, they like things to be easy.
You can help them out by giving them:
- A review handout that explains how to leave a review (and acts as a reminder) – Create it with Whitespark
- A review card that fits in their pocket, their wallet etc.. and tells them how t leave a review
- A direct link to your Google review page – sent by text, email or similar – Review link generator or guide direct from Google
Showing customers how puts you in more control. The most valuable reviews are generally Google reviews. This is because when someone wants to search for a car dealership – they are quite likely to open up a Google search. If your business doesn’t have many reviews – not only might you not show up at all, but if you do, people are more likely to choose a competitor who has a better rating.
Some of the most successful dealerships realize the importance of reviews and make it an important part of their marketing strategy.
4. Make a positive impression
Sure a good product should sell itself but if the environment gives the wrong impression then customers may simply not feel it. Even the smallest details can make a big difference. Simple things like clearly labelling vehicles, their specifications etc.. using flags, stickers and balloons to highlight certain brands, discounted vehicles, and more. Even large bows can be used to highlight key stock and make them appear special.
Clip on paddle flags can provide a great way to organize your dealership stock, provide a more professional look and clearly highlight distinct areas that might hold certain types of stock etc.. This all helps to provide a positive impression.
5. Host an event
If your dealership is new or you just want to drum up attention then you can generate interest and show you’re serious by hosting an event. Decorate the lot with balloons, banners and other décor; this will help bring in the punters. Then its up to you to give them a reason to stay – maybe you might provide demonstrations, discounts or information on how to do x, y or z.
6. Create a referral rewards program
Sure, a lot of business is done online these days, but word of mouth still plays a bit role. People value the opinion of others, and when there’s a lot of money at stake, a personal recommendation can go a long way to bringing more people to your forecourt.
Make it clear to past customers that they can be rewarded for referring a friend. Perhaps they might get a certain freebie, a discount on a future vehicle or a financial incentive.
7. Establish your authority
How can customers get an accurate impression of how trustworthy you are before they use you? One way to achieve this is to prove you know what you’re talking about. Share valuable content and people will see you as more of a trusted authority. You could produce blog posts on how to choose a new car, should you invest in an electric car, how to avoid car buying scams etc.. You could put advice out on social media, or even in leaflets and brochures. Again an even better way is to show this in the real world by hosting an event at your dealership.
These are just some of the ways that you can grow your dealership brand, develop trust and get more people to consider buying a vehicle from you.