In this, the new evolving economy, the difference between great dealers and those falling victim to the now infamous bubble bursting will be great marketing and great training.
For the most part, today’s buyers are more apprehensive, skeptical, methodical and slower to pull the trigger than boom time buyers. The buying cycle has slowed significantly, as these buyers have much higher expectations for the places they do business and won’t be quick to pull the trigger, especially if they’re treated poorly.
These more sophisticated buyers expect their local dealer to market to them with relevant and compelling messages, and if they don’t, it sends the message the dealer may not care about the business, or worse yet, may not be around much longer for service after the sale. Database marketing, CRMs, sold and unsold follow-up will be key in the new emerging economy.
These buyers also expect prompt, professional and courteous service when they call, walk in the doors or email a dealership, further exploiting why the dealership staff must be part of a continued and ongoing training program. All of which further validate the synergistic and almost interdependent relationship between marketing and training.
Consider this: What good is a masterfully trained staff if no customers are coming through the door? And vice versa, what good is a well-executed advertising campaign that drives loads of showroom, telephone and web traffic if the staff isn’t properly trained to handle those ups?
During our National Sales and Marketing Boot Camps, we focus on the four primary ways to grow any business:
1. Increase the number of new prospects
2. Improve the frequency of visits from your past and present customers
3. Boost the conversion rate from prospect to customer
4. Raise the average value per customer
Now look closely at numbers one and two. Both of these business growth components are clearly associated with your dealership’s marketing efforts. If you examine numbers three and four, you’ll see that they are very much controlled by your dealership’s training efforts. When you boil it all down, the growth (or decline) of any business regardless of industry comes back to the importance of marketing and training.
For example, retailer Joseph A. Bank is competing for market share in the highly competitive commodity-based niche of menswear clothing. While its competitors are down significantly, this retailer has had 13 quarters of consecutive growth and a 41 percent increase in profit — all during the recession. The company’s chairman was recently quoted as saying, “Conditions call for aggressive promotions that generate and increase traffic.” The interview went on to describe that going back to the “old fashioned” fundamentals of using promotions and marketing as an excuse to talk with their customers and therefore communicate their value proposition to their most probable target audience.
My suspicion is that most of their competitors have quit marketing altogether, as have many powersports dealers. Why would they do that? Obviously, many businesses are undercapitalized in this market, but additionally, many have never discovered the importance and simplicity of tracking their marketing efforts. When you place unique phone numbers in your ads, use specific web landing pages, coupons, vouchers and other premiums, you are then able to identify what’s working and do more of it, while flushing what’s not working.
I decided to pay Joseph A. Bank a visit. I wasn’t surprised to find the service was prompt, courteous, professional and, most importantly, process driven. I was given the opportunity to increase my transaction at every turn. This was a professionally trained staff, and therefore I made a larger than planned contribution to their healthy balance sheet.
Do you consider your team to be professionals? If you answered yes to this question then consider what other occupations come to mind when you think of the term professionals.
How about professional athletes like LeBron James in basketball, or perhaps you may think of white collar professionals like attorneys, doctors and CPAs. These professionals not only have to earn a certificate to practice, but they must complete continuing education to maintain an active license. And last but certainly not least are the military phenomena like Navy Seals and Green Berets. What do all of these professionals have in common? Training.
Training and marketing complement one another like peanut butter and jelly. And with Q4 just around the corner, there’s no better time to prepare for the final push to the finish line that could make or break your year.