Designing a gimmick for your dealership can be a great way to drive sales. But is it the right choice for you?
For better or for worse, The Karate Kid is one of Gen X’s defining movies. When it received a revival two years ago, I was skeptical, despite spending a portion of my youth absolutely convinced in the efficacy of the crane kick. Against all odds, Cobra Kai is a great series. Importantly for today, the bullied hero of The Karate Kid, Daniel LaRusso grew up to own a car dealership. At his store, his customers receive a free bonsai tree with every sale
Is it an effective strategy? In the universe of the show, it’s left ambiguous. These kinds of gimmicks run the gamut, but the purpose is the same. They are designed to make your dealership stand out from all the others. And in fairness, it’s unlikely that any residents of Cobra Kai’s Reseda will forget the dealership that gives you a tiny tree with your used Ford Fiesta.
If you’re thinking of duplicating LaRusso Motors’ presumed success, you’re going to want to keep a few things in mind.
1.Cost to You
The most obvious concern you’ll have is the cost of whatever it is you’re using to brand your dealership. You want something that isn’t going to break the bank. A good rule of thumb is to look at your sales figures to determine how many sales you’re likely to make. Then multiply that number by the cost of whatever giveaway you’re planning on. Or, if you’re looking at a single showpiece attraction, make sure you have enough room in your budget before getting started.
2. Utility for the Customer
If you’re giving away a small item, ideally you want something that your customers can actually use. The goal is to make the giveaway something for the customer to be happy about, rather than something that’s going to wind up gathering dust en route to the trash. When in doubt about an idea for a giveaway, consult your friends and family. They’ll give it to you straight. Pens are a pretty safe choice, especially if it’s the same pen you give them to sign the paperwork on their new vehicle. This instantly assigns the pen some meaning.
3. Free Advertising
A good enough giveaway serves a dual purpose. The customer feels appreciated and gets something useful, and if you brand it with your logo, you’ll have free advertising whenever your customer or anyone else uses the item.
This was a long road to go, but one thing that hits all three points are t-shirts. These can be made cheaply, are useful, and can have your logo and name on the front. It’s not a bad idea to spend some money up front. Hire a graphic designer and you’ll end up with a shirt that customers will love wearing. The more they’re wearing it out and about, the more free advertising you’re getting, so it’s in your best interests to make it as good as you can. If you end up going viral with one of your local ads, that’s where you start.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest that every customer gets their 10th car free. Instead, think about your service department, which does a lot of heavy lifting for your bottom line anyway. If you offer free or discounted services for every Nth visit or every Nth dollar spent, you’re going to get more repeat customers. And what do service department customers have time for while you’re working on their car? Why browsing your showroom, of course.
5. A Branded Vehicle
This might be my strangest idea, but go with me for a second. As a car dealer, you have access to vehicles. While an Oscar Meyer Wienermobile doesn’t make a ton of sense for your store, it’s a good example of an iconic vehicle that serves as a company’s gimmick. Give it some thought, look at your branding, and if it works for your bottom line, get to work!
Your dealership doesn’t necessarily need a gimmick to do well. But if it’s something you want to do, it can be a great way to inject a little fun into your business. Who knows, maybe it was the one thing you were missing!