Start the Year Strong: Brilliant Ideas & Best Practices

By Desiree Homer

Every new year gives us a chance to start anew and look back and see how we can change or improve. This applies to us personally but it also applies to your dealership. Here’s some ideas and suggestions – from the practical to the marketing savvy – for starting 2020 in a positive direction.

Keep the Batteries Charged
Yes, having good coffee is important for both employees and customers, but sometimes new vehicles need some charging too.

One winter morning, I had a nice couple out on the lot to test drive a new car. Nothing kills impulse faster than turning the key and hearing that ‘tick, tick, tick’. Fortunately, they were kind and understanding. Of course when I returned with the jump pack and popped the hood, we were all surprised to see a giant rabbit huddled next to the engine. The lot was surrounded by cornfields and the potential for warm engines presented a haven for wildlife. (We would sometimes have to replace chewed wires too.) Our trick for keeping them away was to disburse ears of field corn away from the vehicles and property.

If you anticipate freezing temperatures or inclement weather this fall and winter, your new cars might need a jump too. Consider having your sales teams regularly start your cars, used and new, to recharge.

Another option would be to avoid hiking your customers through the snow and cold to look at a vehicle. Instead, consider designating a clean service bay for indoor viewing. Call it your Test Drive Valet Service. Decorate accordingly and promote it to remind buyers they can shop for vehicles sheltered from the elements. This would also eliminate the possibility of customers seeing animals in the engine, one would hope.

Embrace the Winter Spirit
It’s essential to keep your lot tidy year-round. But in the doldrums of winter, it is even more imperative. Keep your sidewalks and pathways free of snow, leaves and/or debris. Be mindful, too of smoking areas and keep them free of littered cigarette butts. Ultimately, your lot is your opportunity to make a good first impression. You may have an influx of first-time visitors who will decide whether or not they come in based on the ease of access and cleanliness of your lot.

Decorating for the season is always a great idea too. Avoid clutter, but celebrate the holidays and events of first quarter with style. Whether it’s recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King and service to others, football playoffs, the start of Spring Training, or President’s Day – your dealership benefits by being associated with these things. They are important to your potential customers and they will feel more at ease if you’re sharing in the festivities.

You don’t have to overindulge when offering freebies, but they should be refreshed regularly. They may choose to come to your dealership over another simply to take advantage of the gift card you’re offering. Consider smaller token gifts for test-drives and tablets or electronics upon purchase.