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Get the basics rightBack

We’ve had the pleasure of working for several leading dealer groups as well as meeting the leadership of many more.

One core message that comes across consistently is the ever present need to reinforce the basics in our businesses. Whilst the dynamics of digital have changed where much of our marketing is played out, the “marketing game” hasn’t really changed that much at all.

Over the coming months I’ll share some stats around the effect basics like number of photos, pricing, call handling and timing have on response and ultimately sales. But I thought we’d start with an old hobby-horse best described by Tom Booth as “the shared responsibility for the generation of footfall.”

Let’s face it a number of customers turn up because of the location and badge over the door. Another slice because of the marketing, increasingly digital marketing, pushing your stock out to the rest of the world on sites like The rest come from existing customers and here your sales team have a vital part to play.

At present stock, particularly good “own franchise” retail stock is hard to get hold of. We’re all used to the idea of “conquest” prices. Down the years manufacturers have used this tool to try and boost sales against other brands who perhaps attract a premium audience or have a model they believe once up “head to head” they can beat.

These do seem to work better than “test drive incentives” where the dealer “stamp” is usually readily available to those who are more interested in the incentive than the test drive.

Perhaps today in used cars as well as new we should be thinking about genuine loyalty incentives and getting our teams on the phone to create opportunities.

These should start with F&I friendly customers. Even if the balance to change is a bit harder to swallow than five or ten years ago rates are pretty low and using targeted rate and payment led campaigns should pay off. These can be direct mail or email marketing, followed up of course with a phone call to generate an appointment.

The mailing could include a “Brand Bonus” voucher offering a spec upgrade or discount if they trade in for a new or used car of the brand.

Surely it has to be worth a few quid to attract part exchanges to previous customers – it’s probably prime retail stock, well maintained and more or less forecourt ready. As they say you can’t sell empty spaces!

If you’ve enough existing customers on your database (or can acquire more for your brand) why not make it into a bit of an event – “VIP, Brand Bonus, Man from the Factory” – whatever floats your boat. Run an outbound call event one evening with an incentive for whoever gets the most appointments – quality and quantity!

You can take this event further, extending it to motability and new retail customers and if you’ve a few pounds stashed away create a campaign and an exclusive area on your website but make sure you stick to the objective – get your team to help generate appointments to sell cars and create own brand stock.

Let me know how you get on?

Posted by Neil Addley on 22/04/2013