Automakers have taken a big hit over the past year. Everyone who depends on the auto industry has also suffered major setbacks, including car dealerships. I’ve heard stories of dealers open since the 1930s that have gone under because they lost their license to sell American cars. Here are a few tips for surviving this recession until cars make a rebound.
The first tip that seems to be working well is to invest some time and effort in the Cash for Clunkers program from the Federal government. Major news was made a few weeks ago that the program worked so well that it was about to run out of funding. The program approved by Congress runs through November 1, 2009. Some dealerships are offering matching bonuses for the program with cash back incentives.
The catch is that the CARS program only works for new cars. If you are a used dealership, offer your own type of incentive program along the same idea. Say you’ll give a certain rebate for upping the customer’s gas mileage a certain rate and a larger rebate for a greater increase in fuel efficiency. Or even $250 off for trading in your gas guzzler no matter what the gas mileage. Yes, you will have a greater increase in the number of less-efficient cars on your lot. But your inventory always changes and the fact that you are selling cars will have people noticing that you’re still in business.
Even if you’re not selling many vehicles, use the clunkers to your advantage. Put a clunker on the most visible part of your property and have signage near it saying something about how it got traded in for a car from your dealership. The visual will be effective.
Keep your inventory fresh and changing. Have different selections available every week. Make good trades at your local auto auction or even with other dealers to make your business work most effectively. If you have a low inventory, spread it out over the lot so it looks like there are more cars.
Consolidate work around your car lot. If your sales team has some free time, have them help with tasks that will help out your image. Have one of them mow the grass or vacuum the office. Keep your sales team busy with tasks that need to be done anyway that way they know you’re trying to keep them busy when sales days are low.
Hosting fundraising events on your car lot is a great way to get people to come to your property. Groups always use carwashes as a method of earning money, so contact local organizations or schools and offer to host a car wash on your lot even though summer is almost over. Provide the hose and water. If it’s too cold to host carwashes have a bake sale or carnival on your property that will get people into your business to look at cars. Cars that aren’t being looked at aren’t being sold. Fundraisers will get adults who need cars on your lot to start looking at them.
Every business has been affected by the current recession and car dealers have been some of the worst hit. But the downturn is just temporary and doing your best to survive for just another day is just a few simple tips away.