How To Make Your Dealership Stand Out: Part 1

Associate Member Contribution from Tim Parsons of HBK CPAs & Consultants

What differentiates your dealership from the store down the street? Do you know? Would you like to find out?

Maybe you would and then again, maybe you wouldn’t.

Based on numerous surveys done during the pandemic, when everyone was trying to figure out their next move, customers laid out a road map of what they’d like to see, feel, and hear during their next dealer visit. We’re not saying that by following these relatively simple steps you’ll automatically become more successful, but what do you have to lose?

Offer Incentives to Current Customers.

Have you ever wondered if you should create a customer incentive program? The real question you should ask yourself is “What can an incentive program do for my dealership?”

First off…What are customer incentives?

Customer incentives are rewards that a business gives customers for completing certain behaviors. They can take many forms, including reward points, discounts, and freebies to customers. But regardless of the form these incentives take, they’re aimed at encouraging customers to perform, and more importantly, repeat behaviors that help your business.

What can a customer incentive program do for your dealership?

Customer incentives help promote customer loyalty. A customer incentive program will help your customers feel more appreciated and help make their experience more memorable as well as promoting customer retention as more customers will make repeat purchases. Per J. D. Powers, 40% of revenue comes from repeat customers.

Incentives help you collect customer data.

Customer incentive programs are also a way to collect customer data in exchange for a benefit for the customer. Normally, if customers are asked to share their personal data they may be unwilling to do so. But if a customer benefits from sharing their data, like with an incentive program, they might be more willing to give you their personal data to sign up. The data can then be used to personalize the customer experience as well as creating highly targeted marketing campaigns.

How do dealerships attract customers?

Bringing buyers to your dealership starts with effective lead generation techniques. Once you have identified your target audience, your job is to reach these potential customers where they are, both online and offline.

Social media.

Social media is not just becoming a more prominent part of our personal lives, it directly influences the buying process. 90% of consumers who use social media for research say it influenced their final decision, especially Facebook. This makes social media a great marketing channel for dealerships to engage new customers and re-engage existing ones.

Referral programs.

Marketers agree that referral programs offer a lower cost per lead than any other channel. Your referral program needs to give your current customers an incentive to refer you to people in their network. You can even create a referral program for employees giving them bonuses when they successfully refer someone. No matter who your referral program is built for, the exact value of the reward you offer is up to you.  However, don’t be stingy.

Why is an online presence important for dealerships?

A recent survey by We Are Social has revealed that internet users are growing by an average of over one million new users daily. These figures clearly show that people spend more time online for various reasons from getting information to shopping. Consumers now prefer to sit in their comfort zones to make purchases through the internet. There’s no better way to get your target audience than by establishing an online presence for your dealership or you’ll be left out of the mix!


As a dealer, how do you get people to be familiar with your company’s reputation? The internet is a popular place where people acquire information about a product or brand quickly. The average consumer considers the information available online before deciding on whether to buy or not. A consumer who is looking to purchase a certain product does not only consider the product, but also looks at the reputation of the dealer they intend to buy from.

What are other people saying about you? Did they have a positive buying experience? How many said their experience was not so good?

An online presence with a good reputation will bring in more business for dealerships. To get a better online presence, dealers can leverage social media and create a website to house all the information about their dealership. Consumers who have bought from you and had a pleasant experience can leave positive reviews about your company either on your social media profiles or on your website. This helps dealerships to gain trust from potential buyers.


This is one of the leading factors that influence buying decisions among consumers. Most people don’t want to go through the stress of leaving their house, rushing to where the store is located to meet with a salesperson. Buying online also allows a potential buyer ample time to examine the product they intend to purchase.

Finally…work ON your business rather than IN your business.

Most dealers know how many units they sell on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis. But if I asked you how many new customers you acquired this year would you know the answer?

On the service side, you probably know how many ROs were closed last month and how much revenue was generated, but do you know how many new service customers you acquired? How many of those ROs were customers that you sold a unit to?

In this business, we talk a lot about improving the customer experience, but if you are going to run a truly customer-centric dealership, a mindset shift is needed. It’s natural to track numbers related to revenue, but if that’s your only focus and priority, it will show in the way you treat your customers.

Selling is more than a transaction. It’s an opportunity to develop a new relationship. Go from a “sell the unit” mindset to an “acquire a customer” mindset. You create a better atmosphere for your dealership to stand out and thrive!