Red McCombs Ford is no stranger to success. A member of Texas’ premier automotive group, the Red McCombs Automotive Family, Red McCombs Ford started off the year by finishing #1 in the San Antonio market it serves. While the dealership had been experiencing a positive trend throughout 2011, averaging a 10 percent increase in sales over 2010, a shift in their marketing strategy in late November had the dealership outpacing itself for both December and January with a 24 percent increase in sales over the same period the previous year – while Ford was up just 5 percent nationally for January. Implementing a new targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums to attract, sell, service and retain customers has helped jump-start McCombs’ sales for 2012.
“Our sales are up 24 percent over the same period last year, but we’re actually up 160 percent within our top-selling zip codes because we took steps to more clearly define our audience within our primary market,” says Shawn Barry, general manager of the Red McCombs Ford store.
Like many dealers in large metro markets, Red McCombs faced the ongoing challenge of how to reach the right customers with the right message, bring those customers into their showroom and service bays, and keep them coming back again and again. Dealers often struggle to deliver an affordable consistent message to the right consumers in their local market without spending excessive marketing dollars soliciting the masses that are not in the market for the vehicles they sell. McCombs Ford sought to reevaluate their marketing strategy and more clearly define their ideal local market – within two month’s time they are seeing improved results.
McCombs Ford began with a comprehensive five-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. Those findings were then compared to leading third-party and industry data to establish consumer patterns within the local market. The results enabled McCombs 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 Red McCombs Ford, and off-brand owners with a historical pattern of crossing over to Ford.
Once McCombs had more clearly defined their market, they implemented a comprehensive targeted and digital marketing strategy using variable direct mail and email 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 mail and email sales communications to customers in an equity position. Using high-end creative campaigns, McCombs 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 $34.95 “The Works Oil Change” coupon, but customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not regularly service with McCombs, receive the same offer but for $29.95 to encourage them to back.
“…we’re actually up 160 percent within our top-selling zip codes because we took steps to more clearly define our audience within our primary market.”
– Shawn Barry, General Manager
Red McCombs Ford
McCombs also aggressively targets conquest service customers within their primary marketing area who own Fords 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. McCombs Ford recognized the opportunity to broaden its service marketing program with conquest and has greatly expanded their reach of potential service customers.
Another component to the McCombs strategy is that every outbound targeted mail and email campaign directs customers to an online Campaign Conversion Site that not only displays the featured promotions of the mail or email campaign they have just received, but also shows them every sales and service offer that McCombs is currently running. If a customer is not in the market for the specific offers they receive in the mail or by email, they can check the McCombs’ campaign site, www.SAFordOffers.com, for other available offers.
“This site is already proving to be invaluable. It looks incredibly professional, it ties in with all our sales and service promotions and we’ve seen an increase in the customer traffic printing coupons from the site,” says Barry. “Plus it’s completely low maintenance for us because it’s updated every month by our marketing company.”
In addition to their targeted and digital campaigns, McCombs also recently implemented a unique strategy that specifically targets vehicle sales within their service lanes. This program, the “Vehicle Exchange Program” is integrated across McCombs’ web site, campaign conversion site, the showroom and service lanes, as well as their direct mail. “The key to this program is the confirmation call that our call center places to confirm the customer’s service appointment. If a customer is in an equity position, our call center informs them that they are eligible to upgrade into a new vehicle for the same payment as their old vehicle,” explains Barry. “So rather than wait and hope that the customer will buy from us when they’re ready, we proactively try to sell the customers in service before they enter the market and shop our competition.”
“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 Red McCombs Ford uses for their sales and service marketing.
An added benefit to sales and service marketing strategy is a healthier trade pattern. “We’ve seen a noticeable improvement in our trade pattern. Since switching strategies we’ve brought in 37 percent more late model trades, 2008s-2011s, compared to all of last year where we brought in less than 10 percent late model trades – this is ultimately a big savings for us, not having to overpay at auction,” says Barry.
To measure the effectiveness of all their marketing strategies and ensure quality customer care, Red McCombs Ford uses a call-monitoring system to track their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership. They receive daily, weekly and monthly reports that enable them to see which ad campaigns generate the best response and preempt any potential customer concerns before they escalate – which improves their overall CSI and helps create lifelong satisfied customers.
Up 24% in Sales, Red McCombs Ford Kicks-off 2012 by Finishing #1 in San Antonio.
What They Do:
- Define their local market by finding customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/or servicing with their dealership now and in the future.
- Create an integrated targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums that promote all their profit centers, new, used, finance, service and parts.
- Target in-market same-brand prospects, and consumers who drive off-brands with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands they sell.
- Implement a sales-in-service program to sell vehicles from their own service bays for their in-equity customers before they shop the competition.
- Monitor inbound calls to track which ads are generating better response rates and deter CSI issues before they escalate.
Resources They Use:
- DMS: Reynolds and Reynolds (www.ReyRey.com)
- CRM: ELEAD One http://www.eleadcrm.com
- Targeted Marketing Company: Team Velocity Marketing (www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com)
- Call Monitoring: CallRevu (www.CallRevu.co)
- Research and identify the best possible in-market customers with the highest probability of purchasing or servicing with your dealership.
- Create a cohesive marketing system, using both targeted and digital marketing, across multiple advertising mediums to positively promote all your profit centers: new, used, finance, service and parts.
- Identify and consistently target in-market same-brand prospects and consumers who drive off-brands with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands you sell to get them in your store.
- Establish a sales-in-service program to sell vehicles from your own service department before they shop the competition.
- Monitor inbound calls to help identify which advertising generates the highest response rates and avert CSI issues before they escalate.
“Active service customers are seven times more likely to purchase with the dealership and consistent customer communication across multiple mediums is key to keeping those customers engaged.”
– Budd Blackburn, owner of Team Velocity Marketing the company that Red McCombs Ford uses for their sales and service marketing