It is no secret that acquiring inventory has a been a problem for dealers across the country over the last couple of years. Dealership lots where a sea of new vehicles used to reside are now mostly empty and home to a scattering of preowned cars and trucks. Some dealers strategically park their service vehicles to hide the fact that the lot is mostly empty. Who are they fooling? Mismatched dirty vehicles poorly parked are not doing the trick.
Car shoppers are aware of the inventory issues facing dealers but are still skeptical about the price increases and wait times for new vehicles. New stresses have entered the car-buying process. The fun car-buying environment that dealerships are so good at producing is suffering right now. How can dealerships spice up the experience for car shoppers at the dealership?
It starts with curb appeal. When people drive by your store does it look depressing? Can they be sure that you are still in business? Are there more weeds than units available for sale on your lot? Take a look at your store and think back to the days of 20,000 pieces of direct mail, balloons across the front line and free hotdogs on a hot Saturday afternoon. Is the spark gone? Bring it back. Pull the weeds, line up the vehicles you do have across the front. Space the lines and the vehicles in them more to make the lot look fuller.
Also, do you have a strong attention-grabbing centerpiece, something that people can see from down the street as the approach? This can take several forms. If you have ramps to display vehicles, get them out front. There are ramps that will raise and spin vehicles 25 feet in the air. How about a giant lit up spinning billboard letting people know that you are open for business and have vehicles to sell?
Inventory levels are inching back up and before you know it dealers will have more cars than customers again. The dealerships that lost the spark of what makes buying a car exciting are going to suffer. There are many salespeople who have only sold cars in this environment of scarcity. They are going to be in big trouble when the time comes to chase customers again.
The dealerships that have kept it fun and exciting are poised to win into the future. It is important that every day in your dealership is a day you are having a huge sale. If your salespeople don’t know it, neither will your customers. Creating this environment starts with you. Start with curb appeal so car shoppers know that you are ready to help them, and your sales team is proud to work in your store. Put up balloons, get a ramp to spin cars in the air, get a DJ on Saturdays … do what you must to keep the spark in your business and you will succeed now and into whatever comes next.