Jumping to the #3 spot in a two-year period – how did they do it? “We implemented a two-part strategy that focused on gaining sales from our existing customers and conquesting new sales by targeting that perfect prospect, says Scott Traub, GM of Modern Nissan.
The first part of the strategy, sales to existing customers, was achieved by implementing a Vehicle Exchange Program in the dealership. The dealership saw new sales skyrocket, CPO sales increase, service ROs double, and customer satisfaction increase too. “Presenting the program to customers in the service lane makes all the sense in the world and now we have a program that makes the process easy, and customers love it,” said Traub. This integrated program educates customers on methods of upgrading to a new vehicle for a similar or lower monthly payment in a no-hassle environment.”
It is important to note that the layout of Modern Nissan of Lake Norman is somewhat unusual. The sales showroom and service center are separated by about two football fields, due to unique zoning regulations in the town of Cornelius, North Carolina. Their inventory and customer parking is partially visible from the street, and the front of the store hardly looks like a traditional dealership. The dealership has been around for a decade, while the Modern Automotive Network has been in business for 80 years. These were the greatest challenges that Scott Traub needed to combat when he signed on as General Manager of Modern Nissan of Lake Norman in November 2011.
“Our sales team worried that customers didn’t know where we were, or even that we were a car dealership. Our service department saw a steady stream of customers, but rarely sold any cars out of the service lane,” says Traub. “There was a disconnect between the two departments, and I knew the team needed to work together to be successful. We had to find a way to bring the departments together and maximize all the traffic in the service lane.”
Modern Nissan of Lake Norman has had the same core management team since his arrival in 2011. “The mind-set of the management team determines the culture and enthusiasm of the store,” says Traub. The group is very open to change, particularly because Traub doesn’t dictate changes. All changes are talked through and decided upon as a team, making each implementation personal and fully understood.
In order to set the idea of uniting the sales and service team in motion, Traub utilized a marketing strategy with a single, cohesive message throughout all branches of the dealership. In 2012, Traub implemented this Vehicle Exchange Program at an all-hands meeting for the full staff at 6:30 am, both to familiarize the team and explain every facet of the program that is now the dealership’s methodology. This program integrated all marketing materials for all departments both inside and outside of his dealership.
The Vehicle Exchange Program is a direct integration of Sales and Service within the dealership. A Vehicle Exchange department was installed in the service drive, and the team hired a Vehicle Exchange Program specialist to greet customers and explain their available options for upgrading into a new vehicle. The specialist reviews the service history and payments of each customer’s vehicle, so that he or she may provide the customer with an exchange presentation complete with a personalized quote and recommendation. Before the Vehicle Exchange Program was implemented, Modern Nissan of Lake Norman sold an average of one to two cars a month out of the service drive, according to Traub. By February of 2014, 155 cars were sold out of the service drive. “We have sold over 200 cars out of the service drive since starting the Vehicle Exchange Program,” says Traub. Even though Modern Nissan of Lake Norman’s showroom and service drive are separated physically, there is now a strong flow of traffic between the two buildings.
The showroom and service drive are fully integrated, and the BDC and a sales manager have been moved to the service building. Since the introduction of the VEP program, the number of monthly repair orders in the service department has doubled from 1,000 to 2,000. This increase in sales means exponential growth to the active customer base and the number of internal repair orders. By creating traffic in the service lane, the dealership is seeing increases in other departments as well.
The second part of the strategy that helped them jump from #8 to #3 in the state has to do with how they find new customers. While the Vehicle Exchange Program was being applied in-store, consumers in their market were also receiving mail pieces advertising the program. However, these pieces were not just being sent to any household in the area. The days of drawing a circle ten miles in diameter around the dealership are over. “This targeted approach allowed us to identify where our sales and revenue come from, which zip codes are the best zip codes to market in. Now, we own our backyard,” Traub says. During his first year at Modern Nissan of Lake Norman, 2011, Traub began working with Team Velocity Marketing, a targeted marketing company, to help craft and implement his two-part strategy of upgrading existing customers and conquesting for the perfect prospect.
“As more units start flowing into the building, we’ll see even more growth internally and an immense change in volume,” says Traub. The service department has seen growth of about five percent, while the parts department has seen a four percent increase this year. The dealership’s staff has grown from 50 to 70 full-time employees since 2012, and the growth hasn’t only been internal. In the first year, the dealership saw sales growth of 52%, the largest increase in the entire Southeast region for Nissan in 2012. The pattern continued, with a 7% increase in 2013, and numbers are on track for a 47% increase in total sales for 2014.
The dealership is on track this year to sell 1,500 Nissans. Their share in the local market has increased, showing up the local Honda dealer by 29 points, and beating out the local Hyundai and Kia dealerships by 62 and 69 points, respectively. Nissan has set a goal of 10% market share for 2016. “Modern Automotive Network is a great organization,” says Traub, “Our entire team wants to grow, and demonstrates this through the support they give one another. We have a productive, like-minded staff. Because of this, we achieve the results we are seeing.”
Modern Nissan of Lake Norman is now third in the state of North Carolina for Nissan sales volume. All three top stores are in the Charlotte market, proving it to be highly competitive market which is also highly capable of progression.
“Our message is cohesive. What you see on our direct mail piece is what you see on our TV ad, point of sale in the showroom, online messaging, in-person communications taking place in the showroom and service department… this gives us a great advantage,” Traub says of the Vehicle Exchange Program. “This consistency brings about great credibility that continues to build upon itself.” Through this method of assimilated marketing and teamwork, Modern Nissan of Lake Norman has doubled their sales numbers in less than three years.