Ric Arnold has spent a lifetime learning what customers want. As a small business owner he transformed a $250,000 retailer into $1 million-plus operation in 12 months. As branch manager in Yellowstone he helped increase revenue by 100%. More than 30 years of experience excelling in sales, marketing and customer experience management puts Ric in a unique position to offer practical advice and insights to help your business thrive.
Here Ric provides advice on cost-effective ways to attract new customers to your business.
How can you Attract New Customers to your Dealership?
How good is your power sport dealership at attracting new customers? Attracting new customers may be the foundation for growing a business, but it is not always as simple as it seems. Below are four tried and tested methods that I’ve developed over the years to grow a customer base.
1. Referral, Referral, Referral
The most effective way of attracting new customers is through referrals. Someone has just had a great experience getting their new unit in your dealership? Take this opportunity to ask them for a referral. I have identified several great opportunities to ask for a referral:
- In-store: in the finance office at the time of signing. After all, the customer has just had a great experience getting their new unit.
- Delivery: before the unit leaves your dealership, ask for a referral.
- Post-sale: conduct a customer experience survey. Stay away from automated customer surveys and contact your customers personally, as people respond far better when contacted personally.
2. Improve your Marketing Strategy
When I owned my own small business, I learned a very expensive lesson when it came to marketing. I invested a lot of money in print advertising – only to get virtually zero return. Instead, I decided to develop a direct out-bound marketing strategy. It cost a lot less and yielded impressive results.
I started by sending out personalized, postcard-sized invitations for a monthly in-store customer appreciation day. These were hand addressed and hand stamped because personalized marketing material is more likely to be read. My return on investment ended up being about 40%, which was more than any other marketing program available to me at the time. This strategy helped grow my business by more than 300% in 6 months. It increased my customer retention rate to 94% and my customer growth rate more than doubled.
But keep in mind that it’s not only the traditional forms of marketing that work. Nowadays, content and social media marketing can develop customer relationships much more efficiently. The key to making marketing work for you is consistency with a great, positive message. Yes it is time consuming but well worth it.
3. Use Financing to Build Long Lasting Relationships
These days every dealership should offer consumer financing, with average unit prices easily surpassing the threshold when financing options become vital. Providing financing options to your customers ensures your customers can afford what they want while helping you grow your customer base at the same time.
Modern consumer financing providers offer a range of programs that you can use to attract new customers, such as no interest/no payment plans and affordability through monthly payments. Imagine you are new to power sports and consumer financing, and how excited you would feel when you realize you can buy the ATV, snowmobile or motorcycle you want for affordable monthly payments instead of a prohibitive up-front cost.
My advice is to talk to your consumer financing provider to see how they can help you attract new customers.
4. Offer Out-of-Town Specials
You can access new markets by targeting out-of-town communities with advertising and coupons encouraging them to make the drive to your dealership. I once owned a business in West Edmonton, near the West Edmonton Mall. Every holiday weekend you could barely get near the mall because of all the out-of-town shoppers who flocked there to shop. I decided I wanted a piece of the action.
I sent out invitations and advertised in two specific communities outside of Edmonton, offering a 25% discount if they came into my store on the holiday weekend. This very quickly tripled my Saturday sales on holiday weekends (I closed on holiday Sundays/Mondays) and completely turned around what had previously been a very slow trading day.
Nurture Current Relationships to Develop New Ones
Behind a lot of this advice is a key message I want to reinforce: Building strong, long-term relationships is vital to the success of a dealership or business. Referrals, customer appreciation days and affordable payment options all revolve around happy customers. And keeping your current customers happy will ultimately lead to new customers.