As I wrote last month, we all something we’re good at. Perhaps by now, you’ve figured out after all these years I’m not a very good writer (blame the editor) but I’m pretty good at taking the questions I hear most from dealers and helping them find solutions.
One I’ve heard a lot of recently is how advertising for the used vehicle department has become since the Internet and the private individual have become so active in the marketplace.
With that being said, the first thing that I would recommend you do is create a separate pre-owned department advertising budget. So many dealers run the entire expense into the primary ad account and charge back to the used car department a percentage of that budget.
In reality, the used car department needs a standalone dedicated budget. It doesn’t have to be large, you just need to have that amount going where you know and can contribute sales to that direct amount spent.
Secondly, I suggest going back to basics of how we did all of this when we could track our traffic. Remember the old days? Why don’t we ask our service techs to write down the preset radio stations on the customer dials for one month? Why don’t we have the pre-owned manager write down the radio stations on every vehicle they appraise for one month? In general conversation we can ask our customers questions such as, “What is your favorite TV show?” “Do you ever read the paper?” “Do you shop a lot on line?”
By far, studies show the majority of the customers today are shopping private individuals on current to six-year old pre-owned vehicles first. That’s why they are the largest pre-owned sales force in the country.
We have various ways to compete with the private individual that I’ve shared with you in previous articles but the key is you have to get the customer to your web site or your showroom before you can do anything with them.
A dedicated budget with a format that allows you to track how your pre-owned ad spend is working is the secret to that department’s true survival. In my opinion, Mudd Advertising has the best used car advertising mouse trap that I have seen. It may be worth your while to take a look at it.
The other thing you can do is cross reference the vehicles that you have in inventory with those for sale in your market with dealers or private individuals that you are competing against on the Internet. Bring that information up in a sales meeting. We tend to believe that our Internet department can handle everything that comes its way by itself. That’s just not the case, folks. We still have to keep the salesperson in the loop. If you put together a standalone budget for pre-owned and make the pre-owned manager accountable for the dollars spent in his department and involving he or her in it, I think you’re going to see a lot better results.
Til’ next time…