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6 fresh ideas to entice more customers to your car showroom

Searching for a competitive edge in the car dealership market? We’ll walk you through six unique ways to attract customers to your dealership.

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The most recent U.S. census found that 92% of American households owned at least one car. If you run a dealership, that’s great news. 

However, with around 18,000 car dealerships across the country, you face stiff competition when it comes to sales. 

Not to mention the fact that consumer behavior is rapidly changing thanks to updates in technology and manufacturing, rising concerns about sustainability, and the popularity of online car-buying options like Carvana. 

That means you’re going to need some reliable ways to motivate customers to come into your dealership and buy from you. 

Luckily, my team has spent hours analyzing marketing strategies for car dealerships that actually work, and I’m going to share them here.

Keep reading for some of the most effective marketing strategies that drive sales, foot traffic, and media attention. 

6 ways to attract customers to car dealerships

How do the best car dealerships attract customers and keep them coming back?

The good news is that the best attraction marketing strategies don’t necessarily have to be expensive, time-consuming, or over-the-top. 

Too often, dealerships simply mimic the marketing strategies of their competitors — they run commercials, print ads, and radio spots that become part of the generic marketing noise consumers hear every day. 

To sidestep the chatter, focus your dealership’s marketing efforts on building up the weak points in the traditional dealership experience — which, according to a study by Cox Auto, relate to customers’ initial research stage. 

With that concept in mind, here are six marketing ideas that will help you catch customers’ attention in that pivotal research process and motivate them to visit your dealership. 

1. Set up rideshare marketing campaigns

The best way to help someone decide to buy a new car is to put them in the front (or back) seat of your latest and greatest model.

Did you know that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft give upwards of 7.4 billion rides per year in personal vehicles of all kinds? With every driver operating their own vehicle, there’s a huge opportunity to offer a few complimentary leases to Uber drivers in your area to reach potential car buyers.

Sue, some rideshare customers don’t own cars and don’t plan on buying one in the near future. But car owners use rideshare apps for a variety of reasons, including rides to and from the airport, safe rides for nights out, and more.

Set up your vehicles with a branded license plate cover and plenty of business cards, and complete the package with a special discount for riders who visit your dealership.

A dealership employee posing with a branded car

Photo Credit: Automotive News

2. Generate reviews for your dealership

According to BrightLocal, consumers read an average of 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a local business. Reviews matter.

However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when asking customers to leave you a review is to make your request too general. 

To bring more customers to your dealership, you’ll need reviews that highlight why the in-person shopping/service experience at your dealership is unmissable. 

A great way to do this is to encourage customers to leave a review while they’re present in your showroom and the experience is fresh in their minds. 

Set up an iPad in the middle of your showroom or service-area waiting room. Keep your Google review page pinned on the device and encourage customers to leave a review about their experience at the dealership while they’re still shopping around.

Encourage them to write specifically about the things that made their trip to the showroom worthwhile. 

Then, just to sweeten the deal and incentivize customers, offer something like a free refreshment after they post their review. 

An online review of a car dealership

3. Add a “text us” button to your website

Texting is getting more and more popular among car dealerships, and it’s an easy thing to add to your lead follow-up strategy. When you consider the stats on SMS, you can see why it’s so attractive. 

When you add a “text us” button to your online listings, you give customers the power to connect with your dealership quickly and easily.

You can even set up an autoresponder with some key resources that give the customer a reply within seconds while giving a real salesperson enough time to respond personally.

With a lot of text marketing platforms, you can even set up each salesperson at your dealership with their own text-enabled number, which makes conversations like the one below possible.

Conversation with a car dealership sales rep

Beyond click-to-text buttons, SMS makes a phenomenal sales tool thanks to its mass texting and one-on-one messaging abilities.

Check out this guide to text marketing for car dealerships to learn more about how to put SMS to work at your location. 

4. Implement a referral program

You can place ads and send emails as much as you want, but a good word from your actual customers can do wonders when it comes to bringing in new ones.

The data says that 92% of consumers trust recommendations or referrals from people they know.

Leverage that power by setting up a strong referral program for your dealership to incentivize your customers to spread the word about your services.

Example of a car dealership referral program

You can incentivize referrals in several ways.

  • Give out an old-fashioned cash referral bonus when a new customer buys from you.
  • Offer a free car repair or service evaluation (under a set price).
  • Send them a gift card for a local business.

This doesn’t just have to extend to customers, by the way. Consider offering the same benefits to employees who bring in referrals.

5. Build up local partnerships

On the subject of social capital for your dealership, cultivate relationships with other businesses in your area (just steer clear of direct competitors). 

The most natural choice for these partnerships would be complementary businesses, like parts and service centers, rideshare apps, stereo installation plants, etc. That said, you can also team up with brands outside your direct industry. 

Relationships like these help reinforce the idea that you’re invested in providing a holistic experience for your customers, not just making a sale and moving on. 

They also give you more exposure if you choose to trade promotions with your partners, like featuring their ads on your site and vice versa.

6. Show, don’t tell with video content

Let’s face it: Half of the car-buying process is browsing. You’ve almost certainly seen customers come in, spend an hour inspecting several vehicles, and then leave without buying.

Making informative, attractive video content does a few important things for your dealership’s marketing. 

  • It gives buyers a glimpse of the vehicles in your inventory, so they’ll be inspired to visit your dealership in person.
  • It helps more consumers see your product in a cost-effective manner (and a CarGuru study found that 71% of car buyers used social media to assist their search in some way).
  • It goes a lot further to demonstrate value in a meaningful way than a mundane “GREAT cars at UNBEATABLE prices” text ad.

Here’s a great example from the Chevy Dude channel on YouTube: 

These days, creating valuable video content doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.

In fact, a simple smartphone video showing off the features of your new model or giving people a crash course on how to compare vehicles before buying is a much better use of your time and resources than a glossy ad.

It’s a new day in dealership marketing

Just because dealerships are facing a competitive market doesn’t mean yours can’t stand out and thrive. 

All you have to do is follow the steps I’ve outlined here and keep your customers and your own unique value top-of-mind in your marketing. Do that and watch your sales soar.

Lily Norton
Lily Norton

Lily is a content marketing specialist at SimpleTexting. She specializes in making helpful, entertaining video content and writing blogs that help businesses take advantage of all that texting has to offer. When she’s not writing or making TikToks, you can find Lily at roller derby practice or in a yoga studio in the Seattle area.

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