F&I productivity requires opportunities. Opportunities are closed sales that come from the sales department. In short it all begins with floor traffic—if you don’t have customers to buy your cars, you don’t have customers to buy your F&I products.
It seems like every business has been on a severe expense cutting program and the first thing that is cut is training, followed by advertising, both of which are necessary to grow sales. The challenge is how to increase floor traffic without increasing the cost of doing business.
Automobile dealerships, which have done well in this economy, have strived to make their dealership a destination, not some place to stop by while they are on the way to somewhere else. Here are 12 ideas to help you make your business a destination for your consumers.
1) Since during the summertime local hospitals and the Red Cross need blood. Organize a blood drive with the blood mobile at your dealership. Have a local radio station advertise the event as a community service. Some will even do a remote show to raise community awareness.
2) Host a charity event—Chile cook-off, car rally, Harley poker ride that ends at the lot. Charge an entry fee and all proceeds go to a charity.
3) Ask employees to join together for the local PBS television station and answer the telephones during a pledge drive.
4) Twilight—whether you’re on Team Edward or Team Jacob—This is the season for Volvo. With each premier opening I would recommend that Volvo dealers have a Volvo similar to the one in the current movie, arrange to have it parked right by the box office. Leasing was once huge and I think it is coming back. If you have an outlet for a lease deal, advertise it in the window. People do not know how little it takes to get into a lease. If you missed this event do not worry, there will be two additional movies with the Volvo and the stars. Start your planning now.
5) For dealerships that sell trucks, partner up with an RV dealer and participate in Saturday morning prospect clinics. This is where a local RV dealer will invite prospects to the dealership or a truck dealer will invite the RV dealer to participate, to teach the potential buyers how easy it is to connect the tow vehicle with the trailer. You could also partner up with a motorcycle dealer, ATVs, snow mobiles, Cabela’s, Tracker Marine, you get the idea.
6) If customer are not coming to you. Then it only makes sense to go to them. Find out how much it cost to have a display in a local shopping mall, for example. In Topanga (LA) an Audi dealer opened up a store inside the mall and has the inventory stored in the parking garage for the mall. The store is across from Neiman Marcus. They have 14 Million people walk past their storefront windows every month, now that is a number to pay attention to.
7) Partner up with a driving school, recent graduates from a driving school will need wheels and usually the first vehicle a new driver gets is a previously owned vehicle. Would it be great to let the parents know the vehicle was properly serviced? How much would the parents pay for that peace of mind?
8) RV dealers—clinics themes
a. Camping for the young families highlight towables & fold downs
b. Camping green leave no foot print; highlight the green RVs
c. How to pack for hunting or fishing
d. Camping safety
e. How to manage you watts—Generators/LP tanks/shore lines and when to use them
f.The care and maintenance of a battery
i. Camping for women
j. Dry camping vs. wet camping. Partner up with a camp ground for this one
9) Back to School Days—Is it possible to become the preferred dealer of choice on campus? Sponsor games, rodeos, or clinics on basic maintenance of an automobile. These students need dependable transportation and many have a job or parents that can aid them in the purchase of a previously owned vehicle. Maybe even a new vehicle.
10) Credit unions and associations—Local credit unions have private sales for the credit union members. For example: The dentist association has a car broker they refer people to for automobile purchases. Why don’t they refer people to you? Many other unions and associations are great pipelines for customers, who do you have working those avenues in your area?
11) Customers are willing to wait to make a purchase, have sales partner up with service. Have a sales consultant telephone a service customer and ask them if they have thought about upgrading their vehicle.
12) Follow your customers with social networking and email. This is great for creating and maintaining a relationship. The preferred method of contact has changed for the current customer’s lifestyle. Those whom are employed are busy and their current lifestyle is running at the speed of thought. The message is clear, use technology to stay in contact.
Increasing floor traffic is key to increased productivity. Following up on those who come into the dealership is critical to your success. Today’s customers are not in a hurry and they are using every tool to their advantage, especially time.
Jan Kelly, president of Kelly Enterprises. For information about available educational venues or joining our F&I 20 group, call 800-336-4275 or visit www.JLKelly.com.
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