August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
I love this business. I sold cars for three years and I have been in advertising for 21 years and the thing I like the most about my job is helping dealers do what they do best, and that's sell cars.
When the market turns slow, things can get pretty ugly real fast. Managers go on a rampages, salesman quit, flooring costs go through the roof and fingers are pointed in every direction casting blame. The next thing that happens is advertising budgets get cut. Makes sense, right? Well...not necessarily. There is another way. Don't cut, SWITCH!
Do what I did 12 years ago. Back then, when the whole auto industry was on its heels because of the gulf war, I switched from conventional TV, radio and newspaper advertising and advised my dealers to do highly targeted direct mail liquidation / disposal sale. The results were phenomenal!
WHY DOES IT WORK SO WELL?
1. People are greedy. They flock like vultures when something looks like it's in distress. Did anybody notice how quickly Montgomery Wards packed their stores once they announced they were going out of business? Wouldn't it be great if you could generate traffic like that without calling it quits or hurting your reputation? Well, guess what....you can!
2. Bad news helps a disposal sale. The economic environment today can play right into your hands if you have the courage to do something different. We have conducted over 500 highly successful liquidation and disposal sales, but it wasn't until NOW that we had the big benefit of BAD national news. Yes! BAD NEWS HELPS YOUR EFFORTS. It makes your liquidation and disposal sales more believable than ever.
3. While other dealers are hiding their heads in the sand you can be out their promoting right under their noses through the mail and it will be too late by the time they finally figure out that it's not the recession that is killing them,....it's you!
4. So what if there is 7 percent unemployment? To a dealer who wants to maintain market share it means 93 percent of the workforce is still employed. Go after it! Let the other dealers cut their advertising. Let them all stop advertising altogether. You may be the only dealer in town having a sale which leaves more of the pie available for you.
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME
The secret to a successful direct mail promotion in a down market is you must use a third party participant. Do a liquidation yourself and everybody thinks you are going out of business. Let me explain:
There is no way for you to tell your customers that you are having a liquidation or disposal sale without them thinking you are in some kind of serious trouble. However, if we tell your customers that our firm has been retained to assist (as a third party participant) in the liquidation or disposal of vehicles gathered from various points throughout the region with your dealership as the chosen sales site, then now you become the best dealership in the town. The idea is simple but effective.
I think J. David Price, Owner of Price Motors in Omak, WA, said it best in his testimonial letter to us. "When I was first told about your program I was skeptical and so I procrastinated for almost a year before I agreed to try your product. What a fool I was! Last weekend we delivered 32 units in just two days. That may not sound like a lot to some dealers, but when you consider that we only sold 34 units the whole month of January, 32 is a phenomenal number. The best part is we didn¹t have to give away the store to move the units. We still held our average grosses per unit and the customers thought they were stealing me blind."
GET YOUR SALES TEAM FIRED UP!
Good sales people are not going to sit around and wait for ups forever. A good salesperson can sell anything, anytime, anywhere. They go where the action is. If you are going to cut your advertising, traffic will fall even further, so you may as well lay off the bad ones now before the good ones hop across the street to the competition.
Of course, I recommend you go the other way. Try something new that fits in with today's economic picture. Tell your newspaper rep to take his yearly price hike and sit on it for a month. Remember the old adage... If you keep on doing what you've always done you'll keep on getting what you've always got! Switch things up in your advertising plan and do something different to get the salespeople fired up. Find a good direct marketing firm with good references and take the plunge. Stay away from gifts and prizes in your promotion and you'll do fine. Direct mail gets direct response and that means real traffic and real money to real people like you. Good luck, stay positive and God bless America.