Move cars off the lot faster than you can drive them
Add a little heat to your winter car sales without taking a big hit on price.
Many dealerships agree that winter car sales tend to plummet after the holidays. Some people blame lousy weather while others point the finger at individual budgets after typical end-of-year spending.
However, poor winter car sales don’t have to be the reality at your dealership. As long as there are products, there will be buyers. The trick is to get them into your dealership and sell them on something from your inventory.
But how? How do you get people to come out in frigid weather? How do you convince customers with tight budgets that they can still afford a new ride? What incentives can you offer that won’t break the bank?
Your inventory is the key to winter car sales
No matter what techniques you try, you’ll never boost your winter car sales if you don’t have the appropriate inventory. Smaller cars with fewer safety features and less-than-ideal handling won’t leave the lot very quickly when snow covers the streets. SUVs and other four-wheel drive vehicles are much more likely to get the attention of potential buyers.
However, there are some unexpected models that might sell better than you’d think in the winter. Sports cars, for example, can sell well because prices tend to be lower since fewer people are buying. Or there’s that coveted convertible someone’s father has wanted all year, again, priced down to help get it off the lot.
If you have a lot of last year’s models still kicking around, winter is a great time to promote them against the newer models, as long as the features are relatively the same. Customers with a need for a car but also budgetary constraints love to pick up last year’s model, which helps you both out.
How to bring in the business
Even with the right inventory, how do you bring customers in? The most obvious answer is to lower your prices, but since haggling will be part of the sale anyway, that’s not necessarily the best place to start.
To boost winter car sales, make sure your lot looks clean, with plowed driving areas and shoveled walkways. Brush off the inventory and make sure they shine amidst all the other cars covered in salt, dirt, and snow. Have as much staff as possible on hand so your dealership looks busy, even when there aren’t as many customers.
Offer discounts not on inventory, but on service. Cars require service in the winter more than any other time of year, and many of those services don’t take long, which means you have customers poking around the showroom for an hour or two. Free car washes may be one of the best ways to bring people in since cars get so filthy in the snowy months.
Of course, you need to advertise! Get the word out there about your great deals through billboards or broadcast advertising. Even more important these days is social media advertising, which essentially boils down to the new word-of-mouth advertising (though it wouldn’t hurt to plant the seed with some reliable gabbers). Use a trusted and effective auto CRM tool such as AutoRaptor to inform past customers about promotions they can take advantage of if they’ll just brave the cold for a little while.
Winning the sale
Since you want to get as much as you can on winter car sales, it helps to take a hit on other prices. For example, include winter tires and wiper blades at no extra charge, or offer six months of free oil changes. These perks make people feel like they’re getting a deal even though they’re still paying market value for the vehicle.
Another thing that’s important is to make your customers as comfortable as possible in the freezing temps. Offer hot beverages and warm places to sit and talk when you’re not on the lot. Have blankets on hand for any extended periods you might have to spend outside. Provide good lighting for customers to inspect vehicles, as winter months tend to be darker.
Two final words of advice on winter car sales. The first, which applies year-round, is to be honest. You won’t do your future business any favors by cutting corners to make a sale in the winter. You’d be better off not making the sale at all than ruining a relationship.
And lastly, don’t pressure people. While this also can apply to year-round sales, it’s especially important in the winter because it’s almost exclusively a buyer’s market. If you don’t have a few buyers vying for the same car, you have less ability to nudge someone in a particular direction. You’re better off making the sale at a reasonable price than you are losing it because you tried to high-pressure the customer into something above and beyond their budget.