We get it: independent car dealers don't always have it easy. Competing against large OEM franchise dealerships, who often have access to additional resources, funding, and inventory, can be a major challenge for used car dealerships.
But we also believe strongly in supporting independent car dealerships and the value they bring to the automotive industry. We know how hard you work and how much good you do for your communities, and we're here to help you shout it from the rooftops!
That's why this article is written with our independent automotive and RV partners in mind. Take a look at these marketing tips that will help your used car dealership stand out from the OEM strip mall down the road.
1. Leverage The Power Of Your Website
One key way to stand out from franchise dealerships is by leveraging your dealership website. While your competition is required to maintain a digital presence in accordance with specific rules and regulations set out by the OEMs, independents have the upper hand when it comes to creativity. Your voice, your services and products, your message, your design: your website can look and function in a way that communicates your brand.
Partnering WIth FlexDealer Is Your Secret Weapon
Have you been looking for a digital partner that truly understands the strengths and challenges of life as an independent car dealer? Our dealer websites, inventory solutions, and marketing strategies will help you outsell and outshine your competition.
2. Offer Special Promos and Discounts
Independent dealerships can take the upper hand when it comes to in-house deals and promos. While OEM dealerships are busy pricing their vehicles at MSRP with blanketed national incentives, independent dealers have more control over their pricing structure. Consider running promotions and discounts on specific vehicles to attract customers within your target demographic, including seasonal sales, holiday dealers, or referral programs.
3. Attend Local Events
Boost your presence and get the word out about your dealership by attending local events such as car shows, fairs, festivals, and more. You can also sponsor events and sports teams within the community to increase brand awareness. Our friends at Rainbow Motor Sales in Coldwater, Michigan, are incredibly active within their local community, and it translates to leads, sales, and overall excellent vibes for everyone involved with the dealership.
4. Utilize Email Marketing
Ahhh, email marketing. Don't get us started on how under-utilized this valuable tool is within the automotive industry! Independents have an excellent opportunity to use email marketing to follow their customers for years or even decades after making a purchase, providing them with timely service reminders, incentives, inventory updates, and educational content that keeps them in the sales funnel and keeps your dealership top-of-mind.
Learn More About The Benefits Of Email Marketing For Car Dealers
5. Provide Excellent Customer Service
Independent dealers typically have more freedom to go above and beyond for their customers. Besides providing a friendly, helpful, and respectful car-buying experience, what else can you do to stand out?
Maybe it's your sub-prime financing program, your ability to track down any used car that a customer is looking for, or the fact that your Service Manager will drive to the middle of nowhere after hours to help out a stranded customer (just take a look at the reviews that Mike Davenport, aka The Chevy Dude, receives: you'll understand what we're talking about).
Whatever it is that separates your customer experience from your competitors, this is what will stick out in the minds of your customers and prompt them to spread the word about your dealership.
6. Partner With Other Local Businesses
One of our favourite phrases here at Flex is: don't work in a silo! As an independent dealer, you have a unique opportunity to partner with other businesses and organizations in your community that align with your values. Teaming up with another business is a strength that too few dealerships take advantage of, but it's a marketing tactic that can really pay off.
7. Invest In SEO
We hear you: are we really still talking about SEO? Yes, we are! In fact, it's just as relevant as ever. Investing in search engine optimization (SEO) techniques is still one of the best ways to improve your website's ranking in search engine results pages, making it easier for potential customers to find your dealership online.
We recommend doing regular website audits to determine and execute local SEO optimizations, creating consistent, unique content (sorry, no robots allowed: search engines have already caught onto that trick), and putting effort into maintaining your Google Business (GMB) profile as excellent places to start.
If this sounds like too much work, just send us a message for a free consultation: we can help!
You can also take a look at this article about how SEO can help boost your car sales for more information about the benefits of SEO for automotive marketing.
8. Be Yourself On Social Media
Sure, everyone loves a sexy car pic; but as an independent dealer, you have the freedom to show as little, or as much, personality as you'd like - and in our experience, dealerships that err on the side of showing more personality tend to be the most successful.
We love this marketing initiative from Matt Nimey Buick GMC, which combines several of the tips mentioned in this article and does an excellent job of demonstrating how fun and down-to-earth their team is.
FlexDealer Can Help Your Independent Dealership Shine Online
After nearly two decades of helping dealerships realize their full potential online, we're ready to help yours do the same.
Contact us today to discuss the unique needs of your RV or automotive dealership and how our full suite of services can accelerate your growth!