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These Scary Situations Can Damage Your Dealership Long After Halloween


The leaves are changing colors, it’s starting to become jacket weather (well, maybe not down here in Houston), and pumpkin spice everything is packing store shelves. These things all contribute to why October is a fantastic time of year, but there’s one more reason why I love it: Halloween.

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Scary costumes, big parties, teeth-rotting candy — I’m all about the spookiest holiday of the year, especially when dealerships start getting into a festive mood. An online search for dealership Halloween marketing campaigns turns up “costumes” for cars, clever Halloween-themed mailers and emails, and even a few costume competitions (how would you feel about buying a car from Batman?).

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While ghosts in the service department, skeletons in cars and superheroes in the showroom might sound like a good time one day of the year, there are some other scary situations your dealership might face long after Halloween ends that could send your leads running to your competitors.Here are some frightening problems your dealership might face and how to exorcise them.

​Disappearing Customer Information It’s hard to beat a good ghost story. Who doesn’t get chills down their spine when they hear about a ghost appearing — and disappearing — in a place with a spooky history? Ghosts are the kind of thing you want to hear about disappearing. But if your customer info is bouncing between planes of existence, that’s a big problem.

Keeping track of all your customer data is hard. Almost everybody struggles with it at some point. In fact, a recent Marchex study said that more than 60 percent of customer data is either entered into customer relationship management (CRM) systems incorrectly or isn’t input at all and is lost.

Any sort of incoming lead, whether by phone, email or a Web form, should be synced to your CRM automatically. Use software that scans and captures data from these sources on the fly so your reps never have to worry about transposing a number or losing an email in an inbox. This will keep your customers from running screaming in the other direction if your reps fail to follow up due to missing contact data.

Festering Negative Reviews Fake skeletons and corpses can be a lot of fun in a haunted house or a Halloween party. However, the scare factor can become a gross factor when those fake skeletons and corpses are kept around for far too long. Dealerships can have the same problem with negative online reviews if they let them fester.

People are more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one, so it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to deal with a scathing review at some point. To protect your reputation, the important thing is for you to contact the reviewer and try to fix the problem as soon as possible. According to Bazaarvoice, 92 percent of customers in a survey were more likely to buy from a company if they saw it offer a refund, upgrade or exchange following a negative review.

If the negative review is about something that can be fixed, do so. If it’s something that can’t be fixed, offer incentives such as free maintenance services or a gift card to a local restaurant to get that customer back in the fold. While asking a customer to remove a negative review from a Website can have an unexpected backlash, you could alternatively ask them to modify the review to point out that your dealership addressed the problem.

Aging Sales Processes Wearing a dinosaur costume on Halloween sounds like a good time, but are your dealership employees and processes easily confused with dinosaurs? Not literally, of course, but customers can think your methods are ancient history if you’re not deploying technology like tablets and computer displays during the sales process.

A recent JD Power study indicated that the use of technology improved customer satisfaction among new car buyers. The majority of your buyers already have high-end smartphones in their pockets that can help them pull up a car’s information (or even a competitor’s Website) while they’re standing on your lot. If you’re not giving these tech-savvy buyers a tech-centric sales pitch, they might start looking for more modern dealerships.

If you’re going to use tablets during the sales process, though, don’t just use them as a gimmick for pointing out a vehicle’s Bluetooth connectivity. Use the technology throughout the sales process by collecting and pulling up customer data directly from your CRM or even using it to find vehicles with specific features on your lot.

Giving your customers a little bit of a scare on Halloween might be OK and a little fun, but be sure you’re not also scaring them away from your dealership because of some haunting problems. Send me an email if you need some help making sure your customers aren’t being scared away from your dealership by bad service.


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