In the world of business, making mistakes along the way is inevitable.

It’s a learning process.

Running a dealership has a long list of to-dos to check off to really be successful, so it’s common for these mistakes to happen.

These are the common mistakes made that dealers should avoid.

1. Being Unaware of the Target Audience

This is one of the biggest mistakes a dealer can make.

Here’s a question for dealers everywhere: How can a dealer give a customer what they want if a dealer doesn’t know who they are?

Running a business completely relies on making customers happy and satisfied, and this ultimately comes from giving them what they want.

A target audience can be thought of as a dealership’s base. Knowing who the customer is and what they have their sights set on is the first big step of running a successful dealership; a dealer should have the ability to deliver exactly what a car buyer wants.

The goal is to search for the target audience within the most profitable market.

Discovering who the target audience is goes hand in hand with #2, Being Reluctant to Research and Test – if a dealer isn’t aware of who that is, that’s a problem research and testing can solve.

2. Being Reluctant to Research and Test

There are different approaches that deliver better results for individual dealerships.

Using a generic approach that is believed to work for every dealership isn’t what will drive dealers to success.

Dealers who assume what the marketplace wants when it comes to specific approaches, prices, and packages are the dealers who have the most pressure on their bottom line.

To avoid a generic approach and unnecessary pressure, dealers can use case studies, research, and testing to their advantage instead!

Case studies are a helpful tool that can lead dealerships to performing at levels dealers could never imagine. They lead a dealer to being aware of exactly what marketing approaches work best for the dealership.

Research and tests are essentially the best way to lead a dealership to success.

Testing the marketing performance leads to a better understanding of the overall performance of the dealership and the data that a dealer takes away is what will bring improvements.

The incredible thing about technology and running a dealership is the opportunity to track every operation down to sales numbers and marketing performance.

This allows a dealer to pick apart what isn’t working, what needs to be improved, and what is giving them success.

In the end, a dealership’s marketing is what draws car buyers to their lot… or it’s what drives them away.

3. Not Developing a Marketing Strategy

Having a strategy is what keeps any business afloat – it’s difficult to run a dealership without knowing the “how” and “why” of reaching consumers.

A dealer who doesn’t have a marketing strategy will be drowning in unanswered questions and will have trouble understanding what is bringing car buyers into their dealership. Without a drawn-out strategy, there’s a lack of diagnosis, review, maintenance, and technique.

Dealers with a strategy are able to reach their goals through selected channels in marketing, and those channels assist in driving a campaign.

A marketing strategy leads to a marketing campaign, that then results in leads, sales, customer retention, and an increase in revenue.

A successful marketing strategy is complex in a sense that it can market to different audience groups, all while understanding who the target audience is.

Down in the image below, you can see a difference between the two campaigns: one (“their structure”) is a basic campaign while the other (“our structure”) is complexly designed in order to bring in more leads, more traffic, and more selling.

This is an example of developing a digital marketing strategy:
  1. They identify an audience to know who they market to.
  2. They identify their goals and the tools they will need in order to accomplish those goals.
  3. They determine and evaluate what they already have in order to incorporate those elements into a plan of what could work best.
  4. They determine what has performed best in the past and they find the gaps they can take out to create new content.
  5. They plan a campaign based on what was found in #4 to drive in more traffic.
  6. They research and test which paid media platforms show better results to get an idea of what works best.
  7. Lastly, they bring all those actions together to form a marketing strategy document.

4. Not Taking Advantage of Opportunities

The world is more connected than ever through social media – it’s the 21st century way of building network connections.

We scroll through our phones every day, making our way through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and one of the more recently popular additions to platforms: LinkedIn.

It wasn’t long ago when someone asked me whether I had a LinkedIn account and I was practically scolded when I said no, because not having one resulted in the potential loss of so many opportunities.

This platform is literally made for professional networking.

It’s a stark contrast from other social media platforms, which have more of a personal purpose of connecting with friends and family, or just decent entertainment.

LinkedIn presents opportunities to dealers; they have the chance to build relationships with potential car buyers, while simply networking for business matters. Every LinkedIn connection is a potential car buyer interested in that particular dealer’s lot.

This is a small example of capitalizing on an opportunity. If a dealer is running a sales event that is performing well, then why stop? Capitalize on the event and get the most out of it.

A dealer should realize the opportunity that lies within that campaign and extend it; there’s no point in ending something good, and the numbers don’t lie.

 The secret to knowing when there’s an opportunity to capitalize on is centered around research and testing (#2).

Most of a dealer’s questions of what needs to be changed and improved on, or what needs to stay the same can be answered by the numbers from research (which is why research and tests are so significant to a dealership’s success).

5. Forgetting About Previous Customers

Cars have a lengthy shelf-life, in spite of that, they always need service along the way.

Dealers often forget that even though a customer has already purchased a car, it’s still necessary to market to those vehicle owners.

This is something a dealer does not want to overlook. Like we discussed in a previous blog, service departments hold a huge chunk of success for dealerships.

If you’re wondering why, it’s because people aren’t buying vehicles as much as they used to, but the light at the end of the tunnel is this: Service departments offer a dealership an opportunity to increase the customer loyalty of those who already own a vehicle.

Dealers who miss out on marketing to those consumers are the dealers who are losing out to the competition.

The way to reach out to previous customers is by utilizing ads, email campaigns, and offering them incentives that differentiate their dealership from the rest.

Dealers want to avoid making these mistakes because utilizing a marketing strategy, target audience, data, opportunities, and previous customers will ultimately result in leading their dealership to success.