by Denny Long
First, I wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Now, I don’t want to start a controversy about whether or not money can buy happiness, but I’m sure if you were able to increase sales you’d be a little happier. So, let’s get to it with a plethora of methods to increase sales. Not in any certain order so that you can mix and match the ones the suit you best or, what the heck, just put all 10 to work for your dealership. Some of these ideas I have expanded on in past articles, others I will expand on in future articles.
Add More Employees to Your Department – Ouch…Few of us like the thought of adding the “expense and headache” of more employees. Let me tell you from personal experience, you can’t do it all on your own. Our sales were up in over 600% in 2006 compared to 2005 in large part due to the fact that we added enough employees to handle the amount of business we wanted to generate. You most likely spend a considerable amount of money purchasing or generating leads. Many of these leads will go to waste because you don’t have the staff to handle them. Consider a BDC person or persons to work your leads, a funding clerk, and additional salespeople. Walmart didn’t become the largest company in the world without adding employees – they have almost 2 million now and sales are through the roof!
Train and Motivate – Properly trained employees are exponentially more effective that untrained employees. Your investment in training also tells the employee that they have a future with your company and in return motivates them to do a better job for you.
Maximize the Use of Available Technology – There are many software products available today that will make each and every employee more effective. You wouldn’t have tried to run your dealership 15 years ago without a fax machine, why run it today without the right tools?
Purchase More Leads – This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many times I hear from a Special Finance Manager that management wants him or her to double sales without an increased advertising budget. Nice dream, but it’s probably not going to happen.
Purchase Better Leads – There is a difference between types of leads. You will find that you will deliver as little as 3% of some leads and as much as 30% or more for other types. That means that you will spend ten times as much effort to sell one vehicle. Spend your money wisely!
Get the Most from Your Current Leads – This goes back to the first few items mentioned. You most likely need more people, better trained people, and/or better technology to maximize results from every lead you purchase. There is a good chance your leads are being “cherry picked” and not fully utilized. This is one of the first problems I find when helping dealers increase sales. Inspect what you expect and know the status of every lead.
Expand the Range of Prospects You Can Deliver –If you were to follow up with every prospect you “weren’t able” to deliver, you will find that many of those prospects were able to buy a vehicle at another dealership. You need to make sure you have a wide variety of Special Finance vehicles to meet the needs of your market. You should also do a revue to make sure you have the right lenders to cover the spectrum of prospects in our market. You don’t see that many people walking to work, so they must be buying vehicles somewhere. Make sure it’s from you!
Work Your References – I’ve said this many times before, Birds of a Feather Flock Together. There’s a good chance that many of the references you are required to get with every application are prospects. Put together a marketing program to go after that business. It may be the least expensive and most effective program you utilize.
Ask for Referrals – If you don’t ask for the sale, it’s unlikely that you’ll get it. The same goes for referrals. You just placed someone in a vehicle that didn’t think they could get a vehicle. They are probably very happy with you and will be glad to tell you about their friend that needs your help, but you have to ask!
Maximize Your Location – I’ll bet there is a considerable amount of traffic that drives past your dealership every day. Do they all know that you are the best in town at helping those with less than perfect credit? A few signs out there would help. Again, this is a very inexpensive way to increase sales. You do need to be careful about your wording. You don’t want to scare away your prime prospects into thinking you’re only there to help those with bad credit. I won’t mention any names, but at least one of the lenders offers signage that gets the point across without alienating your prime customers.
As you know, the automotive business is going through some rough times, but a properly prepared Special Finance Department will always be profitable. So pick one, a few, or all of them and get on your way to a very prosperous new year. Good Luck and Good Selling!
Denny Long is President of Credit Mail Experts. He has over 30 years of experience in the automotive industry and is known as the top expert in sub-prime marketing. In those years Denny has written hundreds of helpful articles that have been published in World of Special Finance, Auto Dealer Monthly, and the BHPH Report.