How to Market to Military Service Members
Your car dealership needs customers, and a lot of them. Being located near a military installation can be a huge benefit for car sales for a number of reasons.
Since our youngest enlisted service members frequently lack the experience, they will likely do one of two things. First, they may show up on their own to check out the shiny paint on that hot rod that you parked in the corner of the lot. Smarter buyers will talk with their Commanding Officer (CO) to see where they should be able to get a good deal. Most are somewhere in between, asking their buddies instead where they bought their cars.
What this means is they absolutely must believe they received a good deal. You have three methods to give them this feeling.
First, a higher MSRP will give them more room to negotiate a lower price. Even if they overpay on the car, they care more about the victory of getting thousands chopped off of the price.
Second, they must experience the price build up through the financing. Show them how much the payments would be on a higher interest rate first, even if they qualify for lower rates. While it may be tempting to jack up their rates to max out your yield spread premium, look at this more as a way to give them a reasonable rate with good profits to you that will allow them to have a good payment experience.
Finally, limit the add-ons to a reputable extended service contract. Rust-proofing and VIN etching are out. That extra $100 will cost you thousands in lost business.
At the end of each sales consultation, take a moment to look them in the eye, provide a firm handshake and thank them for their service. Tell them you appreciate what they do, and you will do what you can to take care of them whatever they need. Make them believe it.
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If they are still on the fence, invite their CO, platoon sergeant or team leader to come with them. That way, they can see that you are giving them a good deal, and that you can be trusted to be honest with them.
That unit Commander will be your absolute greatest asset to building new business. Each unit is a tight knit family where good news travels fast and bad news travels even faster.
Commanding Officers are trusted and respected. Getting several COs to routinely refer their subordinates to you is a huge asset. It is a free advertising tool that is infinitely more effective than any paid marketing you can do.
Most important to the process is your character. Whether you are sealing the deal or preparing to follow-up on a future sale, be genuine. Take care of your Service member, because they take care of you. It is the right thing to do, and you will be rewarded generously for your commitment.
Wolfgang Ward is the founder of BenefitsReport.com, a location-based service that helps the military discover their military benefits and discounts in a customized manner. He has also served in the Marines from 2001-2005 being awarded the Purple Heart from the Iraq War.