Planning Ahead & Looking Forward To Change

If your sales were up this year, a celebration is in order and you are fortunate. I think most might admit that sales were off somewhat this year over last and perhaps that isn't a strong enough phrase. Let's celebrate this too, because this change has most likely caused you to not want that repeated. You may be thinking seriously about what you might be able to do to affect an upward trend in your sales and income even though it is generally a downward market. That is worth celebrating!

Here's some ideas to ponder. It's always been true that people like doing business with people they can trust and with whom they feel comfortable. In other words, it is the relationship that is the key. It has also generally been true in most businesses, but the auto business in particular that developing a relationship with your customers is not a priority. The focus has predominantly been on new business and repeat business has always been a blessing, but it is extra. In addition, as time goes on, there are more and more outlets to buy from, so it will pay handsomely to get some of your attention and focus on to your customers and who they know and can influence. If you changed this one thing, it could change everything for you.

I suggest that you make a plan on how and when you will communicate with your customers; how you will market to your customers and how you will expand your sales to your customers. It is your own personal gold mine! The real key to change is to think differently in order to change your actions and outcome.

Ask yourself some questions: How have you followed up with your customers in the past? Did you have a follow up system? How did you communicate with them? What methods? At what cost? Did you do any marketing to your customers? If so, how was that done and what were the results? Do they come to your store for regular maintenance service and repairs? How regularly? Did you expand your customers without adding any first line customers? In other words, what did you do to grow your customer base without adding any new walk-in sales? How detailed is your customer database information? What program is your database in?

Some recommendations:

  • Use good customer management software such as ACT!, Maximizer or other similar inexpensive and effective programs. I have used Maximizer since 1997 and it works nicely. ACT! is the world's most popular CRM software and we also use ACT!. Get as much detail about your customers as you can. Consider the Mackay 66 by Harvey Mackay (here is a pdf download: Mackay 66 PDF.

  • Study the concept of multi-level marketing at least at the basic level. It will be very helpful. Do a Google search for multi-level marketing explained and you will find a lot.

  • It is a good idea to follow up on a regular basis and include marketing messages. In addition, it is as much who they know as knowing them. I highly recommend getting all the email addresses that you can and use HTML email marketing for your follow up and many of your marketing messages. It is almost free. The best program that I have found and currently use myself is Constant Contact. It is easy to learn and you can make some very nice looking emails with photos, links, etc.

  • For those without email addresses, you can do a small amount of mail and of course, the telephone will be a valuable tool, especially for the more personal contacts.

  • Another tool you can use is to build your own website. Building websites has become a pretty easy thing and very inexpensive if you can do the work yourself. You could even have several websites.

  • A more valuable tool that is free is creating a blog. A blog is a great communication tool for sharing information and it is easy to create links to it in your emails and other communications.

  • Develop some video presentations of various products you sell and post the videos on your blog, website and you can also email them to prospects and clients. People love video. Open a YouTube (TM) account for free and post them there as well, which makes them easily linked in any of your email messages.
This is much more than just staying in touch. It is seriously looking at your customer and prospect base as a marketing target in order to solidify your sales and income. It will create a whole new business for you--and, you have the power to get it done with or without the dealerships help. You're in charge. Go for it!

Need more ideas? Give Terry a call at 707-434-9967 or Ryan at 707-480-0959.

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