Like thousands of dealers nationwide, DePaula Chevrolet, serving the greater Albany area, is always for vying for the attention of ready in-market buyers. Also like thousands of dealers, DePaula Chevrolet faced the challenge of how to effectively reach the right customers with the right message – eventually bringing those customers into the showroom and service bay, and keep them coming back again and again.
DePaula Chevrolet went on to implement an integrated targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums to help them attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less cost than traditional mass marketing with noticeable results – up 20 percent in sales for the first four months of the year, and 40 percent in sales inside their primary marketing area.
“Our sales are up 34 percent YTD, but we’re actually up 40 percent in our backyard,” said Thomas Restino, VP of Operations at DePaula Chevrolet. “And our service is up 11 percent since we switched gears with our marketing efforts.”
Paul Lynch, General Sales Manager at DePaula, reinforces this excitement: “Our goal is to absolutely dominate the Chevrolet market locally, not only in sales but also service, parts and body shop. We think we have found a great strategy to help us carry out our plan.”
To determine customer trends, DePaula Chevrolet began with a comprehensive five-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions. Those findings were then compared to leading third-party and industry data to establish consumer patterns within the local market. The results enabled DePaula Chevrolet to identify vehicle owners with the greatest probability of buying or servicing with their dealership, as well as identify same-brand owners who had never visited DePaula Chevrolet, and off-brand owners with a historical pattern of crossing over to Chevrolet.
After more clearly defining their market, DePaula Chevrolet implemented a comprehensive targeted and digital marketing strategy using variable direct email and mail campaigns that consistently speak to customers throughout the 60-month life cycle of their vehicle with custom messaging that includes: a thank you and welcome message for recent purchasers, maintenance reminders for newer vehicles not yet in-equity but that may be due for recommended maintenance, and ongoing targeted email and mail sales communications to customers in an equity position. Using high-end creative campaigns, DePaula Chevrolet promotes its best sales offers with custom service offers that reflect the service status of the customer’s vehicle. For example, active service customers who routinely come in for service receive a $21.95 “Full Service Lube, Oil & Filter Change” coupon, but customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not regularly service with DePaula Chevrolet, receive the same offer but for $15.95 to encourage them to come back.
DePaula Chevrolet also aggressively targets conquest service customers within their primary marketing area who own Chevrolets but did not buy from them. This is unique because most dealers use the manufacturer’s service marketing program which often limits a dealer to only communicate with customers that have purchased directly from their store, but also limits the dealer from contacting numerous conquest opportunities within their market. If a dealer only has 30 percent market share, they are essentially missing out on an additional 70 percent of the area’s service market. DePaula Chevrolet recognized the opportunity to broaden its service marketing program with conquest and has greatly expanded their reach of potential service customers.
Another component to DePaula Chevrolet’s strategy is that every outbound targeted email and mail campaign directs customers to an online Campaign Conversion Site that not only displays the featured promotions of the email or mail campaign they have just received, but also shows them every sales and service offer that DePaula Chevrolet is currently running. If a customer is not in the market for the specific offers they just received, they can simply go to DePaula Chevrolet’s campaign conversion site, www.DePaulaOffers.com, to find what they’re looking for in just a couple clicks.
When customers visit the dealership, they see POS merchandising throughout the store that validates the advertising message they recently saw online or received in the mail, further building credibility and helping increase the closing ratio.
As part of their overall strategy, DePaula Chevrolet also recently implemented a unique strategy that specifically targets vehicle sales within their service lanes. This Vehicle Exchange Program (VEP) focuses on proactively selling to service customers who are in an equity position. When customers bring their vehicles in for service, a VEP Specialist greets the customer and explains that the customer is eligible to upgrade to a new vehicle for the same or lower monthly payment. Rather than wait and hope that customers will buy from them when they’re ready, DePaula Chevrolet is taking the initiative to sell customers in the service bay before they enter the market and shop the competition.
“In our first month with VEP we’ve sold 42 cars, and the month isn’t over yet. I expect we’ll hit 50 units before the end of the month,” said Restino. “We average 1,300 ROs a month, so we’re looking at close to 4 percent closing rate out of the service lane – that’s pretty darn good.”
“The best customer that any dealer can find is one they already have because customers who have an active service relationship with a dealership are seven times more likely to purchase with that dealership,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of Team Velocity Marketing, the company that DePaula Chevrolet uses for their sales and service marketing.
As consumer shopping behavior continues to change, dealers must change in order to reach the right audience. Gone are the days of using only traditional mass media platforms like TV, print and radio, to deliver a message to the masses. Dealers must now incorporate more targeted and digital mediums, like targeted direct email and mail, internet, mobile and social, which are more personalized and accessible to ready-buyers. Dealerships that do not understand targeted and digital marketing continue to see diminishing returns with traditional mass marketing that remains costly, not to mention extremely difficult to measure.
DePaula Chevrolet certainly appears to have the advantage in their marketplace. The dealership is already a three-time recipient of the prestigious Chevrolet Dealer of the Year, an award given to the top 1% of Chevrolet dealers nationally. With their ability to adapt to consumer behavior, DePaula Chevrolet is looking to close out the second half of 2013 even stronger than its first half.
In A Nutshell
3-Time Dealer of the Year DePaula Chevrolet Adapts to New Strategies to Target Consumers, Sees 34% Growth in Sales YTD
What they do
- Conduct comprehensive market research to clearly define their local market.
- Deliver a cohesive marketing message across all marketing mediums.
- Aggressively target conquest service customers within their primary marketing area who own Chevrolet models but did not buy from them.
- Speak consistently to their customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle.
- Drive consumer traffic to their custom campaign site that promotes all their sales and service offers.
- Monitor all in-bound calls to assure the highest level of customer service, and act quickly when CSI concerns arise.
Resources they use
- DMS: Reynolds and Reynolds www.ReyRey.com
- Targeted Marketing Company: Team Velocity Marketing www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com
- Call Monitoring: CallRevu www.CallRevu.com
- Define your ideal local market by finding the perfect customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/or servicing with your dealership now and in the future.
- Identify and talk to off-brand vehicle owners who have a historical pattern of crossing over to your brand.
- Create dynamic, cohesive campaigns that consistently speak to your customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle.
- Drive consumer traffic to a custom campaign conversion site that promotes all your sales and service offers to help increase your internet sales and service leads.
- Monitor in-bound calls to not only ensure customers receive the best service, but also track which ads generate the most interest – so you know where to best spend your marketing budget.