In Part 1, Bob Clements discusses why having a strong dealership image and brand can help you maintain a loyal and strong customer base.
Each person is responsible for doing everything in their power to make the dealership look its best — for our customers and for the dealership team. Encourage your employees to pick up trash or fix a problem they see. And, if they can’t fix the problem, they should bring it to their manager’s attention.
Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Every employee should take the initiative and work to resolve a problem. It will make your dealership more inviting and help the business grow and give the team new opportunities.
As an owner or manager, help everyone in your store understand the importance of your dealership’s brand. I’m not talking about the brand that brought them in the door, but the brand that you are working to create that makes you unique as a dealership.
Creating Your Brand
I can get equipment from your competitors, but I can’t get you or your people. That’s the brand that you should be working to build. Your brand has to do with both the look of your store and your employees. It represents what you are trying to deliver to the customer in both product and experience. It is critical that everyone on the dealership team works to make sure the brand is delivered to new and existing customers on a daily basis.
Often, I see dealerships that are a hodgepodge of concepts. Make sure your dealership tells me your unique, personalized story and why I should buy from you. Your brand is intangible and has nothing at all to do with your location, the lines that you carry or your building. Instead, it refers to the reputation behind your company’s name and logo. It is important that your branding matches in every area of your dealership to create a unique and unswerving message throughout the customer experience. To build your brand, you have to be consistent in the image you create, inside and outside of your store, your advertising and your web presence.
I try to get all my dealers to create a “sell line” that communicates what they are about in one sentence. That “sell line” is then used on signage inside and outside of the store, on business cards, in advertisements and on the website.
Think of something as simple as Campbell’s Soup’s slogan, “It’s mmm, mmm good!” Or, how about Coke’s: “It’s the real thing.” Take some time and work on a “sell line” that tells customers what you are all about.
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Maximizing Your Dealership’s Exterior
We tend not to consider the building or the property as part of the marketing budget, but it is the largest billboard you have. One way that you can really maximize your exterior and personalize it without spending a lot of money is your window display area. Find one or two things to highlight, products that you wouldn’t display outside, and change those displays often. These window displays give a good first impression and help customers better understand what you are all about.
If you don’t have a large window to use for displays, you can create signs to call attention to those things that are unique from other businesses. Make sure that you change your displays or signage on a seasonal basis to keep those returning customers excited about what you are doing.
There is nothing that says fresh and exciting more than a new coat of paint on the inside and outside of your store. Most dealerships I go into have faded paint on the outside and dull paint on the interior walls, not because they want it that way, but because they just don’t notice the change that has taken place. Paint is such an inexpensive way to update a dealership. I would encourage you to do touch-up painting every 3 years and consider repainting your entire dealership every 5 or 6 years.
A fresh, well-kept dealership communicates an important message to your customers about how you will take care of them and the equipment they buy from you.
While the exterior of the building has an impact on customers, so can your driveway and parking lot. There is nothing worse than pulling into a parking lot that has weeds growing out of the cracks, potholes that have to be maneuvered around or no parking spaces outlined. Take some time and evaluate your parking lot. I understand that it costs more to repair a parking lot than it does to paint a building, but both of them create that all-important first impression you are working hard to build.
First impressions are important for all of us and nothing says “successful business” more than a dealership that looks appealing from the road. Studies have shown that over half of your potential new customers will simply not pull into your dealership if it doesn’t look clean and well-kept. And, if customers do choose to shop at a store that is dirty and disorganized, few will encourage their friends to do so — even if they had a positive experience.
It’s everyone’s job in the dealership to keep the outside picked up, spruced up and neat. You may not have a paved parking lot, but that doesn’t keep you from trimming weeds, mowing grass and picking up trash.
Your store is truly your billboard and one of your biggest marketing pieces. It is important to have your whole staff on board to make sure that your brand is communicated effectively through your entire dealership, both inside and out.