12 Car Sales Promotions to Boost Sales

A continuous cycle of inventive auto sales promotions will help keep you top-of-mind in your community.

Coming up with fresh, effective auto sales promotions can be a pain. You know the promotions will bring eager customers into your dealership, but thinking up creative ideas may not be your strong suit.

One of the easiest ways to brainstorm promotion ideas is to pull out a calendar. Going month by month, write down a list of holidays and other important activities people are celebrating or excited about each and every month. This will give you insight into the customer mindset throughout the year and help you tailor promotions to timely events. Don’t forget to keep track of all your customer insights within an automotive CRM software like AutoRaptor.

Still at a bit of a loss for ideas? Here are 12 auto sales promotions you can use to boost your revenue every single month of the year.

Ideas for auto sales promotions at your dealership

1. Free car wash

A surefire way to bring customers into your service department is to offer a free car wash with each service. Spring is a great time to offer this promotion because drivers that live in colder climates like to spruce their vehicles up after a long winter. Not only does this help customers spruce up their vehicles after the harsh effects of winter, but it also serves as a token of your dealership’s appreciation. This simple, cost-effective promotion can result in greater customer satisfaction and increased customer loyalty. It can also provide an opportunity to cross-sell other services your dealership might offer.

Adding to the appeal, consider offering a full interior detailing package at a discounted rate to go along with the free car wash. This could be particularly successful during pollen season when both exteriors and interiors need extra attention. A sparkling, fresh-smelling car can make customers feel as if their vehicle is brand new again.

2. Test drive incentive

To ensure more prospective customers take a test drive, consider offering an attractive incentive. Each month, create a raffle where those who schedule and complete a test drive have their names entered for a chance to win. This could be anything from a discount on their vehicle purchase to a free accessory or service. This strategy not only encourages test drives but also creates a sense of excitement around your dealership.

You could add to the excitement by revealing the attractive prize at the start of the month, prompting customers to book test drives early. Consider partnering with local businesses for the prizes. This could include a spa day, dinner at a high-end restaurant, or even a weekend getaway.

3. Celebrate the cars’ “anniversary”

Every year on the anniversary of a car’s purchase, send the customer an anniversary card to commemorate the occasion. Include a coupon for a free oil change inside as a present.This not only commemorates the occasion but also incentivizes them to return to your service department. It’s a great way to improve customer retention and show appreciation.

This can be coupled with an invitation for a complimentary vehicle inspection. While this acts as an added incentive for the customer to visit, it also enables you to ensure their vehicle is in top condition, potentially opening up opportunities for additional services.

4. Offer a lowest-price guarantee

Set yourself apart from the competition by offering a lowest-price guarantee. Specify a period after the purchase, and promise to pay the difference if the customer finds the same car with similar specifications for a lower price at another dealership. This promotion builds trust and confidence among your customers and might encourage more sales, knowing they are getting the best possible deal.

To take this promotion a step further, consider extending this guarantee for a full month after purchase. This can offer customers peace of mind, knowing that they’re getting the best deal possible. It can also make your dealership seem more trustworthy and customer-centric.

5. Incentives for referrals

Referrals are one of the most effective ways to attract new customers. Announce that if someone refers a person to your dealership and they purchase a car, the referrer will be rewarded. This could be anything from discount vouchers to tickets for local sporting events. This way, you not only acknowledge your existing customers’ loyalty but also attract potential buyers.

To maximize effectiveness, you might consider offering the referrer a choice of rewards. This could range from free car detailing, discounted services, or even cash back. By offering options, you’re more likely to appeal to a broader range of customers, making the referral program more successful.

6. Host a community cookout

Engage with the local community by hosting a free cookout at your dealership. Inviting local residents to a no-strings-attached meal can foster trust and increase your dealership’s visibility in the community. This could help strengthen relationships with existing customers and attract potential ones, leading to increased sales over time.

Consider adding entertainment like a live local band or fun activities for kids to enhance the community feel of the event. Collaborating with local food vendors can add variety to the cookout, and holding a charity raffle could further entice guests to attend.

7. Hold a car seat safety clinic

Many parents are uninformed when it comes to properly installing car seats in their vehicles. Ask an expert from your area (your fire department or police department will likely help) to come to your dealership and teach parents the basics of car seat safety. Make sure the expert uses one of your top family-friendly vehicles to show the parents about installation.

Adding in a promotion where attendees get a discount on family-friendly vehicles or free child safety accessories could further boost attendance. This can also be an opportunity to showcase the family-oriented features and safety measures of your vehicle inventory.

8. Have a pickup/drop off promotion

To increase business in your service department and create goodwill, offer a promotion where you will pick up someone’s car for a service, bring it to the dealership, fix the vehicle, and drop it back off to them. If your town is small, you may want to offer this to the whole area — if it’s larger, choose a big business or hospital to focus your efforts on.

Additionally, offering a quick cleanup or a discount on the next service for those who use this promotion could increase its appeal. This small gesture can make customers feel appreciated and further encourage them to use your services.

9. “Free Gas Fridays”

One dealership in Oregon started a “Free Gas Fridays” promotion, and it has become popular with other dealerships as well now. Let your customers know that every Friday, you will be out in town looking for a vehicle that has a license plate frame or tire cover with your dealership’s name on it. When you find someone, give them a $50 gas card and take a picture (or quick video) to post on your website and social media accounts.

In addition to the gas card, consider giving out branded merchandise like t-shirts or mugs to winners. This will not only make them feel valued but also work as a marketing tool, giving your dealership more visibility every time they’re used.

10. Create and share a fun video

In your next sales meeting, have your team come up with ideas for a short video (get creative and use your sense of humor!). Post it on Facebook and announce that everyone who shares the video will be entered into a raffle for a great prize.

Encourage your customers to participate by creating a video challenge, where customers submit videos of themselves and their cars, sharing what they love about your dealership. The best video could win a grand prize, fostering more engagement and content creation.

11. Have a present contest during the holidays

Nicely wrap a bunch of empty boxes, and in one, put a paper that says “WINNER!” Number all of the presents and put them out in your showroom. Every time someone buys a car from you, let them choose a present number and write it down (once a number is picked, it cannot be chosen again). On December 31, the person who chose the “WINNER!” box number can be awarded free oil changes for a year.

In addition to the present contest, you could offer small incentives to every customer who participates, like dealership-branded ornaments or accessories. This can add to the festive atmosphere and ensure every participant goes home feeling like a winner.

12. Make Saturdays “Express Saturdays” in your service department

Many customers work Monday through Friday and finding time to schedule routine maintenance can be difficult. Guarantee service within a (small) window of time to encourage those people to visit you on Saturdays and show them that you value their precious time off.

Enhance this promotion by offering a discount or additional services like a car wash or interior vacuuming. This not only provides more value to customers but also makes their weekend visit to your service department more rewarding.

How to come up with more dealership auto sales promotions

You don’t have to create promotions all on your own — get your entire team in on brainstorming sessions. Encourage them to come up with new and interesting ideas to bring in more customers. You could even offer an internal promotion that rewards the person who had the most successful idea during a quarter.

Consider adding a ‘customer feedback box’ in your dealership where customers can submit their own promotion ideas. You could also conduct surveys on your social media platforms to understand what types of promotions your customers would most appreciate. This can help ensure your promotions are customer-focused and likely to be successful. Figure out what works for your dealership and use your imagination!

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.