Lot with cars and text that says 4 things you need to know to run a successful car dealership
The auto sales industry is highly competitive. Convincing customers to part with their hard-earned cash to purchase a vehicle requires hard work and dedication. Dealerships that earn acclaim make every effort to offer an experience above and beyond the competition. Their facilities are always well maintained and filled with amenities to make the shopping or repair process as smooth as possible. Car dealers need to hone their skills in four key areas to achieve long-term growth and prosperity.
Car salesman talking to a customer with blue text that says How to Make a Car Dealership Better

1. How to Make a Car Dealership Better

Even if you have a steady stream of customers, you can always improve your car dealership to offer better service. Here are a few steps for gaining a competitive advantage in your industry:

Present a Polished Image

In the auto sales industry, cleanliness is a crucial decision factor for customers. When someone buys a new car, they expect it to be clean inside and out. When spending money on a big-ticket item, customers expect a premium experience to match. More than half of customers say they have avoided a business because it looked dirty. Shiny vehicles and an organized, well-lit lot can attract more customers. When you add used cars to your lot, have them professionally detailed right away.

Inside, freshly cleaned and waxed floors improve customers’ perceptions of the business. Scuffed, dull floors detract from the display vehicles and make customers think less of your cars and services. It’s crucial to have your customer-facing facilities cleaned regularly. You might also require a professional dress code for all employees. The maintenance bay can get messy quickly thanks to dirt and grease tracked in from vehicles, and this lack of cleanliness can affect working conditions. Prioritize cleaning messes to prevent slips and falls and encourage a healthy work environment.

Presenting a professional image is a comprehensive job. The floors, ceilings, maintenance bays and showcase cars all reflect the quality you promise your customers.

Prioritize Customer Service

A new car is the second-most expensive purchase the average person will ever make after a house. They’re likely not replacing their cars often, which makes customer loyalty tricky. After winning over your customers for their first purchase, you want them to return for their next. The average consumer keeps their car for 71.4 months — about six years. How can you get your current customers to come back all those years later? Provide unforgettable service and strong incentives to return to your dealership for maintenance in the meantime.

Hire and train your employees to provide the utmost care and attention to customers. At least 87% of consumers dislike the dealership experience. Common complaints include feeling taken advantage of or pushed to buy right away. A focus on top-notch customer service and a friendly, stress-free sales process can differentiate you from your competitors. Offer complementary services such as valet parking and amenities like free Wi-Fi and freshly brewed coffee.

Manage Your Talent Effectively

As with any business, your greatest asset is your team. Staff turnover is a significant problem in the auto dealership industry. It costs the average dealership with 70 employees roughly $500,000 in profits each year. A thorough hiring process, formal training and long-term incentives can dramatically improve your business by boosting retention rates.

First, search for dedicated talent who is passionate, knowledgeable and ready to learn. Cultivate those skills through comprehensive training, and build a positive workplace culture. Offer opportunities for growth to retain your top performers.

Your sales reps are critical to your success. Your talent management strategy should involve watching sales performance metrics to help your sales team do well. Set aggressive and achievable sales goals and watch your sales data closely. If you notice a talented sales rep or new hire isn’t hitting their targets, it may be a sign to improve your training program.

2. What Makes a Car Dealership Successful

While knowing how to run a car dealership business well can be a tall order, it’s definitely achievable. A few key characteristics separate successful dealerships from the rest of the industry, such as: 

Reliability and Fair Prices

Many customers may have a negative perception of the auto sales industry. Build trust with your customers by prioritizing reliability and fair prices. Customers expect dealerships to be honest about their used cars’ conditions and histories. Even when offered a deep discount, they won’t appreciate an unreliable vehicle that will send them back for repairs a few months later.

Uphold your dependability by carrying only used cars that meet rigorous standards. Offer warranties or a 60- or 90-day money-back guarantee to show customers they can trust your vehicles. Improve your trustworthiness by offering repair and maintenance services that exceed customer expectations.

Another thing customers look for in a dealership is fair prices. Whether buying new or used, customers expect to negotiate the price. The internet has made it easy for customers to compare prices and look up the market value of specific makes and models in their area. Your customers will likely come armed with this information and know what price they’re willing to pay. It’s crucial you and your sales team know the lowest price you can offer without sacrificing profit. In general, you may want to take the vehicle’s total dealer cost plus a 5%-10% markup. 

End-To-End Service

Running a successful business requires a long-term strategy beyond landing a quick sale. You have the opportunity to build customer loyalty from the moment your customers walk in and throughout every maintenance appointment afterward. Make sure to provide the best service possible at every point in the sales process.

Have friendly, helpful receptionists and sales reps waiting to greet customers. Equip your sales team with the resources to educate customers on their options, makes, models, prices, comfort and features. Offer sympathetic, prompt and hassle-free repair services. Anything you do to improve the experience can improve your customer retention and your chances of receiving positive online reviews. Consider opportunities to offer small perks to your customers, such as a free car wash or even a gift basket.

Product Variety

The automobile market relies on new features and new versions of previous models. Customers want the latest safety features and fuel economy. Moreover, customers want to handpick from the list of optional features. Customers may wish to pick their vehicle’s color and choose from leather or felt upholstery.

Besides the variety in the cars themselves, one way dealerships boost revenue is through upselling. Dealerships can grow their revenue per customer by encouraging sales of accessories, finishes or maintenance plans alongside their big-ticket items. 

A Firm Handle on Your Market

Although all dealerships for your products’ make have similar vehicle options, the customers might be different. A dealership in a wealthy area will likely close sales on different models than one in a middle-class town. Because of these factors, running a franchised car dealership is no different from any other business. Even if you receive marketing support from your parent brand, you need to know your customers. 
Tailor your marketing and services to your client base. Study your demographics and use them to guide your inventory, services and targeted marketing. If your customers have families with young kids, it’s smart to promote and stock up on cars with ample seating and advanced safety features. If you target younger buyers, you might focus on tech-forward features or trendy styles.
Car salesman talking to two people with black text about cleaning car dealership

3. How to Get Customers to Come to Your Dealership

For most dealership customers, the first contact they have with a company is when they walk on the lot. Increasing foot traffic is a crucial way to make your car dealership successful. 

Create an Inviting Storefront

In many areas, car dealerships crop up along main roads. They’re frequently situated right across the street from their top competitors. Further, customers shopping for a new car may pop from one dealer to the next as they consider their options. An attractive exterior can pull in new customers from your competitors or passersby. Keep your lot and signage well lit to act as an additional advertisement, even when you’re closed. Your cars, especially those parked right near the road, should be detailed regularly.

Encourage repeat visitors by keeping your building’s interior as spotless as your main lot. Clean and polish your floors regularly, and protect your high-traffic areas with walkout mats. When customers bring in their vehicles for maintenance, return them cleaner than when they arrived. 

Offer Unique Experiences and Amenities

Novel experiences get customers in the door. Some dealerships offer a unique waiting room experience at the maintenance bay, such as a children’s play area, an entertainment system or a kid-free work zone for busy adults. Some dealerships offer a day care center for parents while they shop
Another way to offer unique experiences is by holding events for the local community, such as a charity car wash event. Hosting an event and bringing in food trucks and live music can be an excellent way to meet new faces in your area. Try running promotional events, like giving away prizes to anyone who test-drives a particular vehicle.

Differentiate Your Business

In the world of auto sales, the vehicles may be similar across dealership locations. Customers will find the latest popular models from their favorite make at any of that brand’s dealerships. To stand out, focus on the other products and benefits your competitors can’t offer. Maybe you have an extended money-back guarantee, a unique protection plan or an unbeatable deal on maintenance services. Advertise your unique offerings and sales events to attract your customers’ attention. Show them why they should come to you over everyone else.

Catch People’s Attention Online

Most customers start their car buying journey on the internet. They might research the latest models or even hunt for dealers in their area before they arrive on your lot. Making your business stand out in the online sphere will attract customers to stop by in person. Work on your local search engine optimization (SEO) to appear in the top results when someone searches for dealerships near them.

Blue image with cars in a lot and white text about how to promote your car dealership

4. How to Promote Your Car Dealership

Getting visitors to come to your dealership is an involved process. Buying a car is a major event that doesn’t happen all the time. Your marketing needs to go beyond short-term strategies to get people in the door. The most successful dealers ask themselves, “How can I promote my car dealership over the long term?” A strategic promotional strategy builds customer loyalty and brand awareness for years to come. Here are a few marketing ideas for car dealerships to achieve steady growth:

Collect Testimonials

When you go above and beyond for your current customers, they’re more likely to recommend you to others. People usually trust peer recommendations over other marketing, which makes testimonials an effective marketing tactic. Glowing reviews start with the best service and a clean, enjoyable shopping atmosphere.

Once you have a group of brand loyalists, call on them to provide written or video testimonials. Ask to put them in your next ad campaign. Even if viewers aren’t ready to make a purchase when they see your testimonials, they’ll remember praise from the mouths of real customers when it’s time to buy.

Encourage Online Reviews

Like testimonials, reviews build credibility and loyalty in your brand. While building up a repository of positive reviews takes time, it’s one of the most effective long-term promotional strategies. As with testimonials, the first step is to build a brand worth reviewing favorably. Consider offering an incentive to car buyers and repair customers for leaving honest feedback on your Google Business or Yelp profiles. These reviews can strengthen your reputation and even help you get found online. Monitor your reviews and respond to any negative comments.

Drive Conversations on Social Media

Most small businesses use social media marketing in some form. As you tweak your social media strategy, keep in mind the reasons why people use these platforms. Social media users want to connect with people and brands and keep up with what’s happening in the moment. Effective social media strategies encourage regular conversations with an audience with consistent posts and fun, enjoyable content. Respond to comments and messages quickly and use attractive photos and videos to tell engaging stories.

Partner With Local Businesses and the Community

Dealerships need to tailor their marketing strategy to their area and the specific customers they’re targeting. One way to do this effectively is to partner with businesses with similar target markets.

An excellent choice is the local car wash. Customers who take great care of their cars’ appearance are likely to upgrade to a newer model someday, and people who buy new cars are more likely to have them washed. The partnership makes great sense for both companies. Consider running a joint event or providing flyers or coupons to car wash customers. Partnering with community groups to sponsor local events can also get your name out there.

Person cleaning steering while of car with green rag and a contact us button

Schedule Your Auto Dealership’s Commercial Cleaning Today

Hard work and attention to detail set your car dealership apart. Keeping your facility in top shape is crucial. Let your floors and maintenance bay reflect the same quality and service you give your customers.

Corporate Cleaning & Facility Services can design a custom cleaning solution to meet your goals and cover every detail. We deep clean carpets and restore shine to hard floors. We’ll even keep those floor-to-ceiling showroom windows sparkling, so you can always display your vehicles in the best possible conditions. With our services, your bathrooms, showrooms, service department and offices will receive a thorough clean, so they inspire confidence from your customers and keep your employees healthy.

At Corporate Cleaning & Facility Services, exceeding expectations is our top priority. You won’t receive a bill until we’ve confirmed you’re 100% satisfied. Learn about our auto dealership cleaning services or contact us for a free quote today.