A Positive Team and Smart Marketing Will Keep Your Customers Happy (and Coming Back)
The old real estate saying that the value of a property depends on three factors – location, location and location – can also hold true for car dealerships.
At first glance, the location of Rallye Motors and Rallye Acura seems perfect. Both dealerships sit along the New York’s “Gold Coast,” an exclusive area of Long Island that is home to some of the nation’s wealthiest families. While it’s wonderful to serve the auto needs of a local, affluent community, a closer look shows that even the best of locations can also hold challenges.
HAPPY TEAM, HAPPY CUSTOMER
Even before considering the challenges of a location, however, there are internal considerations to take into account if a dealership is to be truly successful before location even comes into play.
When Peter Terian founded the Rallye Auto Group in 1958, his philosophy was that, to have a thriving dealership, he wanted to make sure his employees thrived. If they made a lot of money, he reasoned, they’d pull together and make the company successful. His vision was that happy, prosperous employees would lead to happy customers who’d do business at his store. This philosophy has held true since Rallye’s start, and that is why the company has never had a shortage of people who want to work there. Joe Stanco, CEO of Rallye Motors and Rallye Acura continues that tradition, always taking care of the customer and the employees. If those two goals are accomplished, history has proven that the business will come.
“People retire from here, they don’t leave,” said Jeff Friedberg, General Sales Manager of Rallye Motors. The tenure of the salespeople, along with the treatment of the salespeople in an industry where the average tenure of a salesperson is less than 3 years, the Rallye group’s average is 10+. Both dealerships have salespeople that have been there for 20+ years. This dedication and experience serves both the dealership and its customers. The salesperson who sold their family a car will be there the next time the family is in the market.
That’s only possible, however, if the leadership of the company treats its employees well, something that Terian knew half a century earlier. This is the overall focus for the Rallye stores. “As good as we treat the customer, we treat the team,” said Jay Rosenthal, GM of Rallye Acura.
KEEPING THEIR CUSTOMERS
Thanks to this continuity and service, customers have stayed true to Rallye Acura and Rallye Motors for generations. The group has served some of the same customers for three to four decades and has seen generations of drivers come through the doors for their vehicles.
Customer service — providing the experience that meets the expectations of the customer base — is the key for both attracting and retaining customers. Every customer is treated equally. Since the group specializes in high-end, luxury brands, the team wants the customers to know that and show that they belong there.
This is not only reflected in the appearance and demeanor of the sales staff — salespeople wear business-formal attire and treat every interaction as the business opportunity that it is — but the group’s marketing is also done in a tasteful manner because that’s the image Rallye Motors and Rallye Acura customers react to and expect.
While having a good idea of who makes up your customer base can be a great advantage, the group has found that it’s best to stay flexible. It can be easy to lose focus and judge a customer who may not dress the part as they walk into your store. One of the first things Jay Rosenthal did when he came to Rallye Acura was put in place a TO desk system where he was updated on every deal that came through his store. While he felt some resistance in the beginning, it resulted in more deals because there were more sets of eyes trying to make a deal happen. The team is trained to treat all customers like they are meant to be there. Price does not matter and the salespeople can overcome any obstacle to get the customers in the vehicle they want.
While Rallye Motors and Rallye Acura are blessed with a location that serves high-end clientele, that situation can also be a double-edged sword. It’s great to have a base where price isn’t the factor it might be in other markets, but the affluent location comes with several restrictions on the dealerships that make it extremely difficult to advertise their business. Because of strict zoning laws, they are not allowed to display cars in front of the dealership and, because of the limited space available, the dealerships are spread across different areas. Rallye Acura, for example, has to store their inventory nine miles away, while their main office is seven miles from the main dealership in the other direction.
To accommodate this sprawl, the dealership keeps example models at the dealership for test-driving purposes, and must employ a full-time carrier to run paperwork between all the Rallye locations. This is an issue that most dealerships do not have to tackle, and is the price of being located in such an affluent location. To add to the challenge, the competition is fierce; there are six other Acura dealerships in a 20-mile radius of Rallye Acura — and that’s before taking the growing influence of Internet auto sales into consideration.
It falls to marketing, then, to make Rallye stand out from the competition to attract new customers to add to their base, and to keep the dealerships at the top of the consumer’s mind to make sure that base stays loyal. To accomplish this, the Rallye Auto Group knew that they needed more than an advertising agency; they needed a partner to work with them to accomplish their goals in their challenging situation. They selected Team Velocity Marketing to meet those needs.
Customizing a marketing plan that pinpoints the customers who want the professional, exclusive car dealership experience for a lifetime is crucial. While the dealership’s staff knows their customers and know how to please them, getting those customers in the door in the first place requires a professional understanding of and specialization in marketing, which is why Team Velocity was selected by Rallye Auto Group.
In addition to acquisition marketing, reputation management — maintaining the dealerships’ image and addressing every review, both good and bad — is key to continued success. Making sure the marketing message is consistent across all media and maintaining the online presence that high-end customers expect and deserve is also extremely important. The Rallye Auto Group knows that if their message is not being heard the right way at the right time, they might be losing valuable contacts and relationships.
BUILDING THE FUTURE RIGHT NOW
Rallye Acura and Rallye Motors know that, if they treat their team right, their team will treat their customers right. The leadership of the group gives their team the training and marketing tools they need to make good money and sell a lot of cars. By overcoming challenges swiftly and working together, these dealerships are set up for a long and prosperous future.