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Make Hay While the Snow Flies

Brad Cannon | 10/14/2016


We’re quickly approaching the time of year where business is happening so fast that we sometimes abandon our well-known business best practices because we feel that so much is happening that we just don’t have time to do things properly.


We make excuses. I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been behind the counter at Christmas time for more years than I care to think about. More years than some folks reading this have been alive. That last sentence actually stings a little.


The point is, we can’t abandon best practices out of convenience. What I’m talking about specifically is the best practice of having a good data acquisition strategy in place and following it. Having good, accurate name, address, email, and phone information is key to a dealership’s success.


During the Christmas season, traffic levels go off the rails the closer you get to the big day, and the temptation to just get people out the door can be huge.


If you’ve followed us for any length of time, or been to one of our marketing boot camps, you’ve heard us talk about the number one hidden asset that your accountant won’t tell you about: your customer list.


We also talk a lot about being a MARKET driven dealership vs. a MARKETING driven dealership. 


Market driven dealerships operate and are successful based on market conditions, which are fickle at best. They are affected (good or bad) based on any number of things that are out of control of the dealership owner – bad weather, local economy, national elections, etc. 


It’s like they unlock the doors and wish for the best. It’s a terrible way to run a business, let alone live. Talk about bleeding ulcers…


With good customer data, a dealer can have a marketing driven dealership. We are a niche, passion driven market. By having good customer data, you have the ability to target exactly the right people, using the right media, with the right message, at exactly the right time. You no longer hope for the best, you control your outcome.


Of course, this all starts with committing to the strategy – even when it’s tough. 


Average annual client value has been shown to be $675 gross profit. That’s per person. So, having the ability to reach out to those people and get them back into your dealership not only ensures that you get all of that $675 (and not another dealer), but gives you a shot an increasing that average value. And it doesn’t stop there – according to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the number one reason people get involved in riding is the influence of friends and family. It’s been the number one reason forever. So it stands to reason that if you’ve got the ability to reach out to those interested in riding with a compelling message, as they influence their friends and family and those people will be coming to YOUR dealership, bringing their money with them.


This is what we call a predictable growth strategy, and we have seen it work hundreds of times in every state. 


The hitch is, you need the data to make it really successful. That’s why it’s so important not to abandon best practices when they get tough during the Christmas selling season. 


Sure, there are times that the lines get long at the parts counter. I’d advise getting extra staff, and adding impulse buying options at the registers so that people have something to look at as they are waiting the extra few seconds while employees are ringing up folks properly. It works at grocery stores, it’ll work at your dealership too. I’ve done it.


Engage your staff in the effort to harvest good customer data. Help them understand that being able to market to customers and bring them back in is good for everyone. Good sales equals good job security – it’s especially easy to get buy in if they are on an incentive based pay plan (the best kind of pay plan). 

The only time there may be more folks coming to your dealership is at the start of spring – and that may or may not actually be the case depending on your geography. The point is, that while you have the opportunity to get good customer data it’s imperative that you do so.


I encourage you to make proper customer data acquisition a hill you’re willing to die on through the Christmas season. If you do, you will be locked and loaded to have a very successful 2017.


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