For most car dealers every weekend is a sale. The same basic offers with a different theme or tag line. Unfortunately, the shoppers know it. And the flat-line response shows it. How do you make a ‘sale’ something really special in a shopper’s perception? Make it really special in your own mind, and in that of your team. The first step in that process is to cut back on the number of sales you have. A number of the most successful dealership groups I’ve worked with over the years have no more than four major sales a year. Each one with a relevant theme, each one planned carefully in terms of inventory, internal preparation, advertising and collateral support. Here are some guidelines in planning your biggest, best sale ever!
A relevant theme. A bonafide reason for a sale is often the nudge a shopper needs to get off the couch. The word ‘bonafide’ is defined as ‘in good faith without deception or fraud.’ In other words…a REAL reason that benefits the customer in extra-ordinary value. One theme that has worked for a dealer friend is “Our Annual Inventory Balance Event.” The dealer explains that they have too many red and silver vehicles, too many trucks with leather interior, etc., and in order to balance the inventory 37 vehicles will be on the chopping block. Goofy prices. Whatever it takes. Make us an offer! Another theme used successfully by a number of dealers is a ‘race theme’ with a stated purpose. “We need to sell 187 vehicles before August 31st in order to stay number one in the State, and to receive extra allocations from the factory.” The more ‘bonafide’ a sale seems to a shopper, the stronger the nudge.
“A bonafide reason for a sale is often the nudge a shopper needs to get off the couch.”
A longer sale period. Instead of a different ‘sale’ every week, hold just 3 sales a year and make each one last from four to 13 weeks. I’ve participated in a number of ‘sale’ events lasting 100 days! With a strong theme, the excitement builds week by week. Different ‘specials’ can be introduced each week as part of the sale theme. A longer sale event allows, and justifies, a ‘thematic’ investment in signage, buttons and badges and collateral material. A longer sale event allows the theme to permeate every department from the front office to the lot folks. Something big is going on. A longer sale event allows more shoppers to participate in their personal ‘window of opportunity.’ (Just got a raise on Friday, just got a check from Grandma, just got a tax refund check, and YES, I can still get in on that sale I’ve been hearing about.) In one of the most successful 13-week sales I’ve witnessed in the Southeast, the dealer has seen weekly increases almost every week of the sale with a massive blowout weekend capping the event.
Planning, Planning, Planning. The more planning and preparation you put into an event, the better your response and return on investment. In 1983 I helped craft a sale plan that has been working well for a number of dealers for the past 33 years.
- Come up with a ‘bonafide’ relevant theme that the entire team buys into.
- Plan a major ‘kickoff weekend.’
- Give the marketing department at least three weeks to prepare advertising, posters, banners, badges, balloons, handouts and all necessary collateral material.
- Have an internal ‘kickoff’ party where you gather as many of the team members together as possible for a briefing/rally, in several shifts if necessary.
- Create a reward, bonus structure for the team (in every department).
- Invite outside vendors, suppliers, banks and finance companies to the ‘internal’ gathering/rally. Make them part of the excitement.
- Draft and distribute a press release in an authentic press release format. (You’ll be amazed at how many media outlets utilize it…more than you might imagine.)
- Do something crazy at the kickoff. Sell three new vehicles at actual triple-net cost.
- Consider a radio remote for the first day of the event and several more throughout the sale duration.
- Coordinate every single aspect of advertising, promotion and marketing. Every Facebook ad, every radio ad, every TV ad, every print mention, every banner, every handout should scream the theme.
- Broadcast updates of the themes success on a continual basis…how many vehicles sold, testimonial excitement of customers who have participated, etc.
- Have a MAJOR blow-out party to cap the event. “In the last 36 hours of this sale, we expect people to drive 100 miles for the deals.”
The bigger the deal you make of an event, the bigger of an event it will be. Stop thinking in terms of weekly’ promotional events. Start thinking about several of your biggest, best sales events ever at strategic times during the next 12 months. You will be satisfied. I guarantee it.
Author: Jim Boldebook
JIM BOLDEBOOK is Founder of CBC Automotive Marketing, an advertising/marketing agency working with some of America’s most successful dealerships. He has been in the broadcasting, advertising and marketing fields for almost 50 years. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org