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The American auto industry is like a pig surfing the waves. Depending on who you ask, it’s either going to wipe out or hang ten on its next crest.
Sure, that’s a simplification of an economic and geopolitical issue that affects not only the financial future of the auto industry, but also that of our entire country — but it gets the message across. (Plus, I really wanted to use that photo.)
What you as a marketing manager or auto dealer need to know is that there’s a great debate waging in the U.S. over what the next nine months will bring in auto marketing. Some people think the market can’t possibly improve from 2015’s record sales, while others see room for improvement.
We’re not going to solve the debate here today. But we are going to provide auto marketing solutions for the day when the wave crests and you’re left with a little sand on your hooves.
Can’t Sell Cars? Sell Your Services
Both camps in this economic debate are in agreement on one thing: the impressive car sales we’re seeing now aren’t sustainable forever. The economic cycle is just that — cyclical. So we’re likely going to see a decline in car sales at some point. It’s just when that’s up for debate.
So regardless of your stance on the subject, you should start preparing for the slowdown in car sales. The best place to begin is with something you likely already offer: service.
You should work on inbounding customers who may have defected from your service center as well as customers who’ve never serviced their car or truck at your dealership.
The first step is to send a personalized email offer welcoming these contacts back (or in for the first time). Once you get them in the door, wow them with your exceptional service.
Make sure to follow up with an opportunity to leave a review, whether that’s a workflow or a service like Podium. You want to make sure customers can provide feedback on their experience so that you can respond in case it was less than stellar. This is the only way to build up a long-term relationship with a customer.
It’s worth your time to build these relationships with people so that they become loyal service customers. Those folks will likely come to your dealership when the sales cycle is coming around again, and they’re ready to buy another vehicle.
Don’t Forget Your Parts Department
Parts and service often get lumped together, but in most cases, the parts department at a dealership gets less attention than it deserves.
Accessories and custom modifications are a great way to bring in income aside from car sales. Your dealership should be making those connections now — while sales are high — so those relationships remain strong during the coming hard times.
Get to know car clubs in your area, sponsor car shows, and encourage accessory purchases after each vehicle sale. Make your parts department more than an afterthought — make it an integral part of your dealership.
For some dealers, this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many stores across the country hide their parts department both within their dealership and on their website.
Stay Afloat with Inbound When Sales Are Down
When sales are down, inbound marketing really shines over traditional auto marketing.
Even though you might have fewer people making purchases in the months to come, with inbound marketing you can still cultivate relationships. Inbound strategies keep people engaged with your brand so that you’re top of mind when they finally decide to purchase.
Even though no one agrees when the sales wave is going to crest, you can make sure you don’t get caught in the riptide. Follow 9 Clouds on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog to get weekly insights on automotive marketing that will keep you afloat.