Now more than ever, dealerships are looking for new and unique ways to generate more profit: not just more car sales.
This requires getting creative with how you’re connecting with your community.
I firmly believe that creating a lasting impression of humanity and authenticity is the best way to generate repeat sales with relationships of trust. In this article, I’m here to help you out with some inspiration and examples of ways your dealership can do exactly that!
Right now, dealers are seeing more physical space on their lots than ever before. With inventory shortages still happening, and the likelihood of a shift to more order-based commerce on the horizon, dealers simply have more space.
What are you doing with this space?
Many dealers have been in the same location for a long time. That means that your dealership is something locals know is there, but don’t look at or think about very much. It’s a landmark, great, but it can also start to blend in with your community over time.
Maybe except when there’s a giant gorilla on the roof or a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man.
Wait: that’s it! You need to be using your dealership like a billboard. Not just a car-filled billboard that the neighbourhood is used to, but something different. An inflatable figure of your owner? Cars dressed up in silly outfits? The world is your oyster - let’s get creative!
One of the ways that can help bring eyeballs can also help demonstrate your dealership’s position as a brand that cares about the community.
Some ways that you can show your community involvement could include:
Truck beds filled with donations for location shelters or food banks
An outdoor movie or Santa photoshoot
Filling a minivan with soccer balls to be donated a local school
Giving out free boxed lunches on Wednesdays when kids are out of school early
The list goes on! Think about things that you love and how you can integrate these things into your community.
Think of the last good physical ad that stopped you and made you look.
It likely interrupted your environment.
Use signage, props, and other interruptions that stand out or look nothing like their surroundings to interrupt people.
Some off-the-cuff ideas include:
Fallsview Casino Niagara once had a 3D clothesline holding underwear alongside the highway exiting Toronto (QEW Niagara-bound)
3D billboards: they’re still not common
Signs that move when passers-by pass by (not a fan, it can spook people - but it still can work so it’s worth mentioning)
Giant milkshakes on top of ice cream parlous
Yep, the overused and no-longer-funny wacky wavy inflatable arm-flailing tube man
It’s not that a giant inflatable anything sells more cars: it’s that it gets people to actually look at your dealership and reminds them that you exist.
Stop being a fly on the wall. Think about ways make your storefront marketing engaging.
Right now, we’re working with one of our Ford partners to bring customers to their lot: lemonade stand style. Based on the Ford smoothie, we ran forward with the idea of creating a smoothie station and offering free smoothies.
This escalated and, well, there’s going to be a Beavertrails truck hitting their lot multiple times this summer! This is just the beginning of the snacks for this dealership.
What will this create for their brand:
An opportunity to bring the community to their dealership (foot traffic)
A “fun” association with their store
Engaged social media followers, waiting for the next engagement
Long-term relationships based on trust; not just sales outcomes
Happy & full bellies
The list goes on! How can you create a “must-do” reason for people to visit your store? In my opinion, food is almost always a suitable answer! But think about your community to generate more ideas: Sports? ATVs? Golf? What do your neighbours care about and get excited about - that’s what will bring them in.
This doesn’t mean that you need to get a karaoke machine and start singing to the masses, but it can mean that you create activities on your space for people to engage with.
Most dealers stray away from this due to liability issues, but we’re not your lawyers. We’re here to help you create a brand that crosses online engagement with the reality of your store.
Becoming the entertainment could look like a monthly event. Not another BBQ with cans of pop, but something people actually want to attend. This could look like this:
Bouncy castle (okay, there’s definitely liability there)
Pretend mind readings
Remote control car races/racetrack featuring OEM-branded RC vehicles and a mini racetrack-shaped like your city
Have a talent show
Hire a clown
Let the local breakdance community dance in a designated area
Kids vs. adults sporting event with some local teen all-stars
Be creative with it!
This is the lowest barrier-to-entry suggestion on this list: use your vehicles to show off. It's also my favourite.
For example, the F-150’s marketing is all about towing capacity and payload.
But what’s the difference between 8,000 lbs for the other brands and 13,000 lbs for Ford?
Show your customers by doing this:
Take one of your F-150s and place it horizontally, as close to the road/sidewalk as possible
Behind it, attach the biggest trailer or a massive RV
Behind that, attach another trailer
Put barbells, weight plates, or other items that are obviously heavy
Use big, obnoxious objects to honestly push the point
Do this until you’ve reached the maximum towing capacity of the vehicle
Order a sign that says “Best-in-Class Towing: Here’s the Proof” or similar
Now THAT is a vehicle display worth looking at.
No more trucks tipped up on that pretend stone platform trying to look tough.
If you have a direct competitor nearby, you could go as far as to take a used truck from that brand and demonstrate how much less it can tow in a similar fashion. Hit them where it hurts.
A dealer hasn’t taken me up on this suggestion yet: when you do, let me know! We would love to highlight this or other unique vehicle displays on our blog!