We all love those busy summer months in the car business! The sizzling season brings all sorts of fun such as increased lot traffic, higher expectations for you and your team from bigger OEM sales quotas! The extra business creates fourteen hour work days, all the while half your sales team are planning family vacations at the same time. You’re trying to keep inventory levels at sellable numbers all the while book values lag and what it takes to buy the inventory isn’t aligned to reality. Tent sales and the like creating logistical nightmares. Sweltering service departments make for surly technicians. To top things off, customers who bought used cars in February are returning to get their AC fixed or their batteries replaced that fried like an egg on the summer asphalt of a buy here pay here lot.
After successfully facing down a decade worth of sweltering summers in the St. Louis sun, I want to help you plan and gear up for summer sales in the car business! Here are just a few ways you can prepare for the summer at the dealership and beat the heat, and your competition!
- Keep hot customers cool when you preemptively address common service complaints
A couple of things can break when the thermometer breaks into the ’90s at the dealership. These breaks often lead to undeniably frustrating customer service issues that not only damage your dealership’s reputation but also distract you from working on new opportunities. Bad batteries and AC units in cars serviced and untested from winter. Instead of waiting for your annoyed or even angry customers to come demanding that you fix their problems do this! Review each salespersons list of used car sales from about October through March. Have the salespeople call each person on their list and say something like, “Mr. Winter buyer, I’m calling you to make sure your battery is prepared for the summer months and that your AC is blowing cold. Sometimes when cars are serviced in winter, it’s hard to test the air conditioner. Any chance you can swing by and I can have your battery tested and ensure your AC is fully charged?” When the customer shows up, use this as an opportunity to ask for referrals, share their experience online. Pre-emptively address any of these inconveniences on your time, turning a negative into a positive for you and your customer.
- Do spring cleaning on your inventory.
Your cars have been abused all winter long. Employees and customers have been getting in and out of them tracking salt, snow slush, and mud from their shoes all up in your cars. Conduct a detailed and thorough inventory where you get in each car, inspect it for the following: Does it start? Is the interior caked in mud? Does the AC work? If you’re feeling super ambitious, you may even want to drive them around the block to knock the rust off the rotors. After all the spring rain, a vehicle not driven can sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, scaring away potential shoppers.
- Revisit your internet pricing like you would your family on Easter.
Due to the spring tax time business, many dealers are hoping to the auction to replenish inventory and stock up for summer. Also, dealers may have a fair amount of distressed inventory that perhaps, didn’t work for tax time buyers, or weren’t good “winter” cars. As a result, this can cause auction pricing can become volatile around his time of year which leads to sporadic internet pricing. Revisit your pricing more frequently to ensure you’re priced with the market. You may be pleasantly surprised to see you have cars that are actually UNDER priced! It’s always nice to find a hidden Easter egg within your inventory!
- Create a vacation calendar along with your entire team.
You could wait until your three top salespeople and finance managers all want to head to the beach at the same time to address summer staffing and vacation time. Waiting can be fun if you aim to create a Mad Max and the Thunderdome situation where two salespeople enter, and one person gets to go on vacation. Even worst, your summer sales events could wind up being understaffed limiting your ability to maximize the ROI from your summer months. Instead, have a team meeting and share a calendar with your staff. Give them line of sight to any summer sales events and give them blackout vacation days far in advance. Ensure the new people or your lowest closer is on vacation during the busiest times! (just joking)
- Avoid lazy summer days and ensure best practices stay consistent.
Feast or famine on the showroom floor causes all sorts of time management challenges. During summer, it sure does feel good to be busy. As such, one of the biggest mistakes we make in automotive is throwing our routine out the window. That’s right, I said it… Good business makes us lazy! Best practices often go by the wayside when there are deals to work. Ensure any processes that you’ve adopted throughout any slower months are discussed, scheduled, recommitted to etched in granite, and that people consider the activity changes that occur with more business. Example: More time at the auction buying more cars equals more time stocking in vehicles. Instead of stressing out whoever stocks in the vehicles, have a backup person help with this task. If you took on some training or people development initiative during the winter, ensure this remains consistent throughout your busier months by recommitting.
Summer is just around the corner, and I want for you to maximize every minute of it and ensure you are ready for the business! Do so by preparing your people, your processes and your product. If you can use any of these five tips to be more efficient or effective, then I have done my job as #thecarbizcoach and I ask in return is that you share the article and give us a comment. May your summer be filled with many fun and fulfilling opportunities on your showroom floor!
About the author:
Before entering the car business, Sean Kelley believed leadership was the key to ensure his Special Operations team would survive two combat zone deployments. Sean Kelley #TheCarBizCoach has since applied those same leadership principals to automotive management, and successfully led dealers for a decade: lowering turnover, increasing profit, customer retention, satisfaction, and setting first-time regional records. Sean’s passion for coaching and people development led him to become Chief Business Development Officer of DriveCentric CRM where he helped them double their annual revenue. Now, as CEO of Car Motivators and President of Next Sale App in Missouri, Sean and his coaches work with dozens of dealer groups, and hundreds of managers across the country to achieve great results through their people and technology. Sean was ranked 10 in the top 100 sales coaches by Ambition.com. Also, DealershipNews.com voted Sean sales and leadership consultant for 2018. These awards are a result of creating winning cultures at car dealers across the country with his unique self-developed approach to coaching and people development, D.R.I.V.E.C3™. Sean believes that adding value to others is the reason he has elevated into the top 5% of coaches in America.