Category Archives: Sales Events

Without A Vision, Profit Potential Is Reduced

It’s been said, "The mind cannot achieve what it cannot perceive." Dealership service departments are losing thousands of dollars, because the service manager does not have the true perception of what his department could really produce. After all, according to last year’s financial statement, labor and parts dollars have increased this year. However, last year’s profits could have been so much better, based on technician proficiency at 85%, stall utilization at 53%, service advisor selling techniques as "order takers", and one-line repair orders at 65%.

Last week I received a call from a regional manager of a major auto manufacturer, who asked, "Why can’t service managers get their employees to work together to accomplish a single objective?" There are several key elements that are needed in developing the path toward greater profits. The number one factor is a concise vision of what the service department can accomplish. It’s important to establish realistic achievable goals. Goals will force strategy. The service manager must know his break even point and just as important, how to generate a 20% net profit; the monthly service expense divided by the current gross profit percentage, less 20 points, which will equal the labor sales necessary to generate a 20% net profit. Successful service managers must communicate their vision to every employee in the department. The service manager should sit down with each team member and help work out realistic goals. These goals should include long-term as well as short-term objectives. The service team should agree that the vision is realistic and obtainable. Through constant reminders, proficiency reports, and communication, the employees are kept informed of how close they are to achieving the goal. Many service managers have met with failure, because of their inability to communicate with their employees.

The service manager should help develop teamwork through trust and respect. There must be integrity, a commitment to customer enthusiasm, employee accountability at all levels, a passion for winning, and a dedication to continuous improvement. Someone once said, "Without a vision, the people perish." Without a vision in the service department, profits will be lost. Labor time if not used today, will be lost forever.

Develop a management team that shares your vision. Empower your employees to make good, sound business decisions with training and communication. Allow your employees to take ownership of your vision by giving them the opportunity to help establish goals toward achieving your plan.

David Brown, president of Brown & Associates consulting firm has 34 years experience in the automotive field, including 16 years with the GM Parts Division and Chevrolet Motor Division. If you have questions or comments about this article, call 866-578-8773 or email him at

Visualize This

The biggest and best retailers in America use "Visual Merchandising" to help them ring up billions of dollars in sales every year. Yet, surprisingly, most retail automobile dealers have not embraced this tried and true sales and profit-boosting technique.

Visual merchandising is the art of changing the atmosphere of your showroom to create a buying environment that creates urgency in the mind of the customer. By using specially designed point-of-purchase materials, companies like: Wal-Mart, Macy’s , Kroger, Circuit City, Starbucks, Walgreens, McDonalds, Sears, and thousands more generate billions of dollars in additional sales by motivating their customers to buy now. Visual stimuli like posters, banners, pennants, price tags, window clings, badges, and balloons, used together in a coordinated effort, can help you create a credible and compelling atmosphere that will turn shoppers into buyers.

The same customers who will visit your dealership this week will have visited an average of over 1,500 retail businesses since the last time they shopped for a car. After over 1,500 visits to other retailers, a majority of whom use visual merchandising, these customers know what a "real sale" looks like. Research proves that unless your dealership showroom sings out to them, qualified customers will leave without buying.

When your customer’s first impression is, "Wow! It looks like something special is happening here today. My timing must be right," their likelihood of buying increases 100%. The fact is, when shop-pers truly believe they are in the right place at the right time, to take advantage of a unique opportunity; they will buy on the spot.

Visual merchandising is proven to be the least expensive, most effective way to increase average daily sales and average dollars per transaction.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing advertising with visual merchandising. Advertising acts as an invitation for customers to visit your dealership. Visual merchandising is the effort you make to create an atmosphere that will positively affect that customer’s attitude when they respond to your advertising.

Most dealers are quicker to spend thousands of dollars trying to create more foot traffic than they are to spend pennies on the dollar creating a buying atmosphere in their showroom. Spending money on advertising alone, without good visual merchandising, is like spending $5,000 on the invitation and nothing on the party.

Automobile dealers who use visual merchandising to create short-term special events at their dealerships can easily measure a 10 to 20 percent increase in sales and gross profits during a 3 to 4 day sale. This is a great return on a small investment compared to the thousands of dollars most dealers spend weekly on advertising.

Thousands of exit surveys support the fact that a change of atmosphere convinces customers that they are fortunate to be in the right place, at the right time, to take advantage of a unique buying opportunity. Salespeople also respond positively to the change, and they get excited about the opportunity to sell more vehicles during the event.

Visual merchandising can be very effective on its own, even without advertising. However, if you tie your advertising into your visual merchandising display at your dealership you can expect even better, instant, and measurable results.

The Toland Group, Inc. specializes in automotive marketing. For more information contact Scott Toland toll-free at 888-4Toland.

We Can Learn from Non-Automotive Merchandising

Many of us interact with Dealerships on a daily basis and try to convey how best we can help them save money and acquire new business during these difficult times… however, many of us get so technical with dealers that it’s very easy fly over the heads of our audience with techno-babble and statistic after statistic.

I’ve personally found that when attempting to convey complex theories to those that aren’t exposed to them all the time, it helps to remove ourselves from the dealership world and talk about how folks interact with the internet on a daily basis outside of the microcosms they are in every day.

For example, I was working with a dealership the other day and felt that I wasn’t getting through when talking about Inventory Merchandising. It was a dealership that felt convinced that giving little to no information would prompt website visitors to “call”. We all know that those days are long gone, but the mindset still persists out there…

The point is that there’s really no difference between let’s say a digital camera and a vehicle. Sure, the digital camera is much less expensive, but a consumer will find it on the Internet in generally the same way they will a vehicle and the merchandising that revolves around it is essentially the same.

I asked the dealer about what he had recently researched online for purchase and the answer I got was real estate. I thought to myself…. Perfect!

Since I knew he was researching real estate I asked him did he ever call on a property without a list price? The answer I got was yes, he had done that once. Go figure… I then asked him, has he ever inquired about a property without seeing any pictures? No. Has he ever called on a property without getting any information on the condition of the property? No.

I then asked… what’s the difference between that property and a car? If you wouldn’t act on a property with limited information surrounding it, why would someone inquire about your vehicles? Shouldn’t your customers see a fair price online? Shouldn’t they see multiple photos of the car they are interested in? Shouldn’t they be aware of other similar cars that they might want to check out in your inventory? Yes… of course they should.

Just a quick thought that when it comes to positioning our products in our space as vendors I believe we can learn a lot from those outside of automotive. Sometimes taking cues from others can be a great way to expand our ultimate goal, which should always be helping dealers understand why we build our products the way we do and how they can sell more cars and maximize their fixed operations as well when they are used properly.

Written by Mike DeCecco

Vacation Giveaways: Are They The Best Premium To Drive Sales

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, it can be a tough task to make a sale. Consumers nowadays are smarter, and they are shopping for the best bargains and they seem to want more than what they pay for. Sure, automakers continue to help with factory rebates, cheap loans, and discounts, but consumers have no sense of urgency. They figure they don t have to buy today because they feel tomorrow they can get a better deal. Just about every dealer is fighting the incentive war. That means you must add an extra incentive to your advertising that will literally motivate the customer to turn off the TV or computer, get off the couch and walk into your showroom.

You must give your customer a gift, a premium incentive, a thank you, a bonus, a bribe, or whatever you want to call it, to motivate them to come to your dealership first. You may be thinking, "My customers are smarter than that!" The Wall Street Journal sells to about as bright and educated an audience as there is, and they use this technique with incredible success. Their premium is a booklet called the Wall Street Journal Guide To Money and Markets.

One of the hardest decisions to make in your promotion is what premium to use, because you can never be sure who has what already. So, what makes a good premium? The most important characteristic of an effective premium is that it must have a high perceived value in order to achieve the desired effect. You need to use a premium that is consumable, and should be replaced once or twice a year.

Vacation and travel incentives are one of the most powerful methods of attracting customers to your showroom and increasing profits. Dealers that have used vacations have seen increases of at least 30%. Travel has a universal appeal, a high-perceived value, and an emotional appeal, commanding attention in any form of advertising. The desire to travel crosses all economic, ethnic and cultural lines. USA TODAY, in a recent survey, states that 93% of consumers preferred travel to any other incentive.

Increased sales automatically lead to increased profits. So, for your next promotion, use a travel incentive and make it a win-win situation for both you and your customers.

Al Castellanos is vice president of Sales and Marketing for Spirit Incentives. His articles have appeared in Selling Power Magazine and has been a regular speaker at Industry trade shows. If you have any questions or comments he can be reached at 800-860-5880 x113.

Say it With Me, Now: Events are Fun!

Events are fun. I like fun. Fun is why I am so happy to work in the public assembly facilities industry. No one likes not having fun.

If you are planning an event, there are some very basic points to keep in mind so that you can keep having fun. The size of the event really is not the issue, whether it is a small business meeting, a holiday party, a large corporate presentation, or even a huge consumer show.

What are we doing here?
Any event needs to have the basic goals defined. Raise your hand if you have ever been stuck in a three-hour meeting and at the end of it, still didn’t understand what the point was. I love it when I get pulled in and the moderator starts off saying, “Hey, everyone! Welcome. We are here to accomplish A, B, and C today. Let’s get going.”

Who are you guys?
Know your audience. Know who they are and how they assimilate information. I am not saying that you need to remember their birthdays, but have a reasonable grasp on what your audience is all about. It’s tough enough to communicate with someone you know very well, so think about how much more difficult it is with someone you do not know!

What’s the plan?
Your audience may not need a script of what will happen at your event, but you do. Not having a well thought-out event agenda is like driving your car without the steering wheel—it’s just not going to work. Have your meeting plan in an easy-to-read type in your hand, and make sure that you stick to it as much as humanly possible. Even if you’ve run a particular event a million times before, you still need a plan on hand at all times. Yes, you do. I mean it.

Food works.
Who wants to attend a function when they are hungry? Food and beverages at events are an incredibly effective means that will influence your audience for the better. When you provide catering to your audience, you tell them that you care about their welfare. That affects their willingness to take part in what you are doing. Feed your attendees and they will follow you to the ends of the earth. Besides, all those rumbling stomachs would just take their minds away from the presentation! Make sure your catering is top notch yummy. Bad food is even worse than no food.

That was really cool!
The most fun I get out of events is when people leave. (Erg…that probably did not come out right.) What I mean is, I enjoy hearing comments about the event after it is finished. If I did my job correctly, our guests will be happy and excited to take on the world. If not, I will see a lot of confused looks and hear a lot of derogatory conversations. What do you want your guests to get out of your event? Have you thought it out well enough to ensure that the audience will leave with smiles on their faces? What can you do to make this happen?

Who’s paying for this?!?
If everything was free, we could have some very popular (and crowded) shows. Can you imagine what business meetings could be like? The sad reality is that events cost money. And because of that, a strict budget has to be maintained throughout the show. Resist the temptation to spend what you do not have because of some last minute thing that you think you need. Figure out what you need before anything is done and come up with a decent budget. Remember: your plan drives your budget, not the other way around.

Now get out there and have some fun.

Matt Gibson has a lot of fun at his job as marketing director for the Spokane Public Facilities District, which owns and manages the Spokane Arena, Opera House and Convention Center. Some folks think he may be having too much fun. He can be reached at 509-324-7000 or email him at

Tent Sale Success By The Numbers

“Ya gotta structure this just like a car deal.”

It is impossible to maximize the gross profit on a car deal unless the “structure” of the deal is sound…right?

The same holds true for maximizing your success participating in tent sales. Unless the numbers, or “the structure” is sound…you’ll leave money on the table and in the tent. Maybe even handing it to your competition.

Let’s discuss the important “numbers” and how they relate to “structure”…maximizing your success and profitability during these off-site events (Tent Sales).

Inventory and salespeople
For years, dealerships looked once at their inventory and aging reports to determine how many vehicles they would display at off-site sales. After all, the old saying “the more you have, the more you’ll sell” holds true…right? Not necessarily.

After producing over 500 events, we have discovered that the number of salespeople is as important…even more important…. than the number of vehicles displayed. Really!

Here’s the structure you’re looking for…one salesperson for every eight vehicles on display. This 1 to 8 ratio seems to be the perfect balance of satisfactory salesperson coverage.

Keep this 1 to 8 structure and you’ll sell 35 percent to 45 percent of your displayed inventory (depending on the length of the event and time of year)…maybe more.

Write ups or test drives—where should our focus (and thus “spiffs”) be? Quite frankly, putting the focus on write-ups at a tent sale is as outdated as dial up computer lines.

You’ve seen it before; a write-up comes to the desk…we dive into the deal with one, two, maybe three pencils and we learn the customer has not even driven the vehicle. How stupid is this?

Or worse yet, your salesperson grabbed an up and sat them down to do a credit application without even putting them in a car. These “pros” can’t waste their time with someone with poor credit so they work every customer like they are a “special finance” deal.

Wake up and smell the coffee, people! I cannot tell you the number of under 500 Beacon customers who somehow find a qualifying down payment, co-signer, or even someone else to buy them the vehicle if they have an emotional attachment to the vehicle.

This can only happen with a nice, long test drive.

It’s all about the test drive. If I were on the desk, I would not even accept a write up….or even a credit application without a test drive at an off-site sale.

Here’s the structure: about 37 percent of all test drives will result in deals during off-site sales. That’s better than one in three.

It doesn’t seem to matter if these three demos are with different customers or three demos (on different vehicles) with the same customers. If your troops gain enough control to go on at least three test drives (complete with a professional features and benefits presentation) there is going to be a car deal.

This is due to many factors, most of which we’ll cover in a future article. In the meantime…focus on the demo—not just the write up!

More on staffing
We have already covered the 1 to 8 ratio of salespeople to vehicles displayed, and that this will equate to approximately a 35 percent-45 percent inventory turn (assuming you have a nice mix of vehicles on display with an average ACV of below $15,000-$17,000); but there is more to the staffing structure.

Roughly 50 percent of all deals made at an off-site (tent) sale will be delivered after 5pm. In fact, on Friday and Saturday, take your number of units sold at 5pm. Double that number and this is very close to where you’ll end the evening.

Deliver 15 vehicles by 5pm and expect to sell 30 for the day. Really! In contrast, sell two before 5pm and you might only do four or five for the day.

Therefore, having 100 percent of your staff working bell to bell does not make much sense…does it?

Consider this: For the first half of the day (until 3 or 4pm) why not staff with one salesperson for every ten to twelve vehicles on display? After 4pm, call in the reinforcements from the dealership and staff your display with one salesperson for every six to eight vehicles on display.

Here’s a staffing chart you might find useful.

9am-1pm One salesperson for every 12 vehicles on display

1pm-4pm One salesperson for every 8 vehicles on display

4pm-8pm One salesperson for every 6 vehicles on display

8pm-mid. One salesperson for every 10 vehicles on display

Furthermore, get your salespeople out of the element every couple of hours. Have them go somewhere to get something to eat or drink. Send them to the dealership with a trade. Help them get their mind and body away from the venue for a few minutes.

A short break every couple of hours will enhance the performance of every salesperson.

With this staffing structure and break structure, expect your salespeople to average 2.7 to 3.6 units sold per event. Call it slightly better than three units sold each.

Ten salespeople will combine to sell 32-34 units, if they are working in an 80-unit display.

It’s all about the structure.

He who stays late wins.
Here is a really interesting stat for you to ponder…

Almost always, the dealership posting the last deal of the night also posts two of the last three (or four) deals and three of the last five (or six) deals of the day. Get the last deal every day and you’ll be very happy at the conclusion of the event.

So, there you have it, the magic formula; the structure of a successful tent sale.

Good luck and good selling.

Mike Conley, of Conley and Associates can be reached at 1-800-643-8582 or at

Turn your next sale into a Monster with a Monster Sign Promo

Is this you? Have you ever spent a boatload of money on newspaper, direct mail, television and radio for a big sale, and then didn t decorate your lot? Don t feel bad; just about every dealer makes that mistake sometime. Remember when you advertise an event, you are selling the excitement-the sizzle of the promotion. A lot full of cars generates exactly the same amount of excitement as a mall parking lot if you don t decorate. Imagine a circus with no tent, no elephants, no games of chance and no Ferris wheel music. It ain t no circus if there ain t no tent. There is help out there in the form of banners and posters and hangtags from companies like Sale-in-a-Box and Instant-Events. You can buy a box of lot decorations from them, or you can "meet the new sheriff in town."

Roadside Advertising is a company that became famous in the Furniture Liquidation Sale field. They bring a team of sign folks to your event and they "decorate your world." The team mounts a sign blitz in your area that includes sign walkers, posted signs (kind of like political signs staked in a lawn), and their new product, "Monster Signs." Monster Signs are eight-foot tall signs carried by sign walkers near your dealership.

Many dealers have been shocked by the amount of traffic these sign campaigns can generate.

The REALLY, REALLY cool part is that some auto factories, like Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Kia, will pay for the sign event through co-op. Roadside Advertising can help you get prior approval for the co-op event. If you d like to contact Roadside Advertising call 1-877-762-3744.

Brett Stevenson is the Publisher and Managing Editor of DEALER MARKETING MAGAZINE

Using Staffed Events Responsibly to Enhance your Bottom Line

While talking with hundreds of car dealers and general managers on a monthly basis I noticed the conversations seem to revolve around the same theme, “What is wrong with staffed events these days?” They’re too expensive, they had a bad experience with a team and to top it off staffed events can be a risky venture. These are just a few of the negative things that I hear. I can understand how these dealers feel. I truly do. However if done responsibly with a responsible, reputable staffed event company there is no better way to help the bottom line. Not to mention that the staffed event can be a huge asset to the long term well being of your car dealership.

Sure, I understand that a dealer can feel that writing a $20,000 to $30,000 check for advertising (direct mail) and then paying a percentage of their resulting profit is excessive. However let’s examine the numbers in closer detail. Let’s say that the average car dealer spends $20,000 to advertise a staffed event. For some car dealers this may be the same amount that they budget for an entire month. If an auto dealer spends $20,000 over the course of 30 days to advertise on the television, on the radio and in the newspaper to attract customers to their dealership is the money being used in the most advantageous way? Let’s look at the numbers. A dealer that spends $20,000 and is efficient enough to sell 40 cars ($2,200 average per vehicle retail) as a result of that advertising will gross approximately $88,000. Subtract the initial $20,000 spent for advertising and you are left with $68,000 in adjusted gross income. However if the same $20,000 is spent on a focused direct mail marketing campaign and staffed event the dealership will become optimized to perform at it’s peak level. Even if this optimization is only for a short period it is still financially beneficial for the dealer. Consider for a moment that an event company can produce 40 car sales in 5 days with a $20,000 advertising budget. A good team will increase if not double a dealerships per vehicle retail. These 40 cars sold at $4,400 per vehicle retail gross will result in an event producing $176,000 in gross profit. Subtract the initial $20,000 advertising investment, the 24% commission for the company facilitating the sale and the dealer is still left with $113,760 dollars in adjusted gross profit and three more weeks to sell cars. So is it really to expensive?

It can be, if you pay to little. Remember, you get what you pay for. And this is a performance based business. This brings me to the second biggest complaint that I hear from car dealers regarding their previous staffed event experiences. I will be the first to admit and I know that I am not alone when I say that there are some unscrupulous characters in the marketplace portraying themselves as reputable promotion companies. Their practices and unethical dealings are giving the rest of the staffed event industry a black eye. They aren’t trained and don’t have enough experience to properly facilitate a sale. They lack the work ethic to compensate for their inexperience and their integrity is quite often in question. Luckily these individuals still make up a small percentage of those of us who perform these sales and they are easy to identify because they will work for what they feel they are worth, next to nothing.

Ten years ago when I was recruited into the staffed event and tent sale business it was a new concept that attracted the best talent that the auto business had to offer. With big paydays and the opportunity to travel the country and help others succeed. Living in hotels, flying from one city to the next, living out of a suitcase, from one dealership to the next, working 14 hour days, being away from the family for weeks at a time counterbalanced only by the fact that the money was worth the sacrifice. However in an attempt to duplicate the results for less money some dealers began to sacrifice quality by hiring individuals or start up companies for a fraction of the price. Remember people will work for as little as they feel they are worth.

Without trying to sound cliché I can’t emphasize enough, “You get what you pay for.” After all why would talented, ethical, hardworking automotive sales professionals want to pay to travel to your store and be away from their family, living in a hotel, working 12 to 14 hour days to get paid peanuts? The answer is, “They don’t.” However the individuals who can’t get or keep a management job at a dealership will grab at any opportunity they are offered. Not exactly what I would feel confident investing ten’s of thousand of dollars in advertising money on. That’s if the money that you give them makes it that far.

So back to my original point, “Using staffed events responsibly to enhance your bottom line”. To do so use the follow rules as a guide the next time you consider doing a staffed event.

[list:1t5opzlu]- Hire a reputable company and pay them well.
“The bitter taste of a bad job will remain long after the sweetness of low cost is forgotten.”
– Make sure and get USPS mail receipts. (for direct mail marketing)
– Don’t be afraid to check their references thoroughly,
– Check the better business bureau and the Attorney general of several of the states they have done business in.
– I have also found by doing a little research online (Google searches being a great resource) you might be surprised at what you turn up on a company.
– Use Staffed Events to enhance your bottom line no more than 4 – 6 times a year. If you do them two times a month as I have seen some dealer do they become business as usual around your dealership and community. In essence they become ineffective. [/list:u:1t5opzlu]______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For more information regarding the implementation of staffed events in your car dealership feel free to contact me at or by calling me at 321-951-1683 ext 11

Sales Event Signs and POP Custom Printed On Demand

As the auto business becomes increasingly more competitive each year, marketing becomes even more essential to the survival and success of today’s automotive dealership. Roadside Advertising, based in California, is leading the charge in helping auto dealers stand out in their marketplace.

Famous for their sign and sign walker promotions, Roadside is the definitive leader in a growing movement toward targeted visual marketing for dealerships. While most auto dealers run some combination of television, radio and newspaper, many have warmed to the idea of incorporating "visual" marketing into their annual market-ing plans, going above and beyond a permanent sign and a few balloons on the lot. Roadside encourages dealerships to take advantage of the traffic patterns surrounding the dealership itself, drawing attention to the dealership via signage.

Roadside Advertising has sent hundreds of teams of sign walkers to dealerships across the nation to stake their claim on busy streets and street corners surrounding each dealership. The multi-day promotions also involve posted signs (similar to political election signs), additional sign walkers carrying 8-foot tall "Monster" signs, as well as a host of matching balloons, flags, posters, and other POP materials. Roadside fan and repeat customer, Kurt Mechling, dealer principal at Performance Chevrolet/Buick/ GMC puts it simply; "With signs, everybody knows there is a sale going on–it’s significant–and it’s right here!"

By popular demand, Roadside has recently expanded their selection of products and services to offer packages of signs and POP materials, printed on demand, that a dealer can use with or without a sign walker team. "We had so many requests from dealers to simply purchase signs, we had to expand into the business of selling promotional products as a package," says Roadside’s John McClain. According to McClain, "Many dealers just want to do the promotions themselves". Since they became available only a short time ago, Roadside’s customized sign packages have quickly grown in popularity.

Despite the fact that the packages are priced like "off-the-shelf" kits, every order is custom printed, on demand, including the dealership’s name and address. The other advantage to Roadside’s sign packages is that all the signs are completely weatherproof and can be displayed anywhere–in any weather.

A good number of dealers are shocked that something as seemingly simple as posting signs and decorating the lot can have such a tremendous impact on sale traffic and, just as importantly, the long-term visibility of the dealership. Passers-by who aren’t necessarily in the market to buy a vehicle today may find themselves searching for a vehicle tomorrow–and they ll think of those high-profile sign walkers and that colorful lot. For these reasons, it’s clear to see why many new customers regret not having tried sign promotions and lot decorations sooner.

It is not uncommon for a sign pro-motion to double or triple the normal traffic at a dealership event. Matt Laney, inventory manager for Bill Holt Chevrolet will attest to that. "We did 2 consecutive week-end sales during weekends that we usually do no business," Laney says. "We doubled what we would ve normally sold each week-end… maybe more!" Laney also points out that after a couple of car deals, the package pays for itself. Given the measure of success of the promotion, dealers have nothing to lose by trying any of the Roadside products or services on for size.

Ray Murphy, general sales manager at Wiggins Pontiac points out an important element of Roadside’s sign campaigns: contagious enthusiasm. " I like to call it semi-controlled chaos ," says Murphy. "It creates a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, getting our salesmen excited–so we couldn’t help but sell cars!" By covering the lot with balloons, banners, hang tags and a variety of POP materials, dealers will reinforce the message their signs and sign walkers are sending that now is the time to buy. The sales person’s job is easier; the seed of urgency and excitement is already firmly established in the car buyer’s mind when they arrive at the dealership.

Each of Roadside’s packages includes signs that are customized to include the name of the dealer-ship. "A long time ago we recognized the value of including the name of the dealership on the sign itself," says McClain. It guarantees that there will be no confusion over who is having the giant sale."

Roadside offers a full catalogue of signs in a variety of dimensions, including: 2 x 2 , 2 x 4 , 5 x 3 , and 8 tall Monster signs. Their packages of POP materials include: windshield graphics, riders, sale tags, banners, pennants, and long banners for as little as $2.50 per foot.

For more details on Roadside’s sign promotions and complete line of high impact POP materials, visit or call 877-Roadsigns (1-877-762-3744.

How Managed Sales Events Increase Sales And Profits

Imagine selling more cars in one to four days than you would in one month. Well, for an increasing number of dealers who participate in managed sales events or performance-based sales events, this is the potential pot of gold lurking at the end of the rainbow. With modest sales growth projected this year by industry analysts, and a marketplace that remains as competitive as ever, both franchised and independent dealers are paying more attention to sales events as a way to either boost sagging sales, reduce wholesale losses, or to maintain market share. Whether your dealership chooses to stage a super sales event on your own lot using your own sales staff, or hire a staffed sales event company that comes complete with their own sales and management professionals, the goal remains the same: sell as many cars at the highest gross possible. And, provided the right ingredients are available, such as effective pre-event advertising, a good inventory mix, competent sales people, and favorable weather, the result can be substantial gross profits for the dealer (and a healthy boost in CSI!).

There are many success stories from dealers all across the country that have experienced proven and consistent success with managed sales events—some even prospering in the rain and snow. Karl Malone Toyota located in Utah held a four-day event in March 2004 staged by Dealer Services, Inc., one of the industry pioneers and specialists of the staffed event concept. During the four-day event, of which three days were effected by rain and snow, PDS, Inc. and their team sold 140 units for a total gross profit of $450,000! Not bad. However, not all dealers end up with such favorable results. In fact, many have been burned either by the weather (uncontrollable), or a sales event company that failed to deliver or broke promises tainting their dealership’s good name.

Greg Donahue, president of Kissimmee, Florida-based Automotive Sales, Advertising & Personnel, Inc. (ASAP), suggests dealers do their homework. “Talk to the owners of the company and ensure that they are on board and dedicated to your success, ” he says. “If at all possible, check to see if they are affiliated with any local business organizations, particularly the Better Business Bureau, and check their credit rating.” Whatever the reason, there are a host of legitimate and proven sales event companies offering everything from do-it-yourself promotions to performance-based events that come complete with professional sales and management teams.

Dealers who prefer to have an outside company do the leg work, and assume the responsibility of co-coordinating the logistical details (especially with off-site sales) and financial risk, should consider hiring a sales event company that is compensated on the basis of sales performance, and one that offers a money-back guarantee. Why performance-based? Traditionally, dealers who have put on a sales event, whether at their own lot or off-site, incur all of the advertising expense to promote the event, assume the potential legal pitfalls of off-site sales (permits, applications, and sub-contractors), and hope (with baited breath) that their event will be overrun with buyers and they’ll gross a ton. The reality: sometimes it works; sometimes it’s a nightmare that damages profits and, potentially, the dealership’s standing in the marketplace. For those dealers who want to sell cars in a carnival-type atmosphere, with most of the planning executed for them, performance-based sale events may well be the answer.

Here’s how it works: Dealers are still expected to make the upfront investment, but it is secured with a guarantee from the sales event company that they will generate a pre-determined amount of gross profit. Each sales company has their own guarantees, but dealers can expect to gross anywhere from $75,000 to $450,000 for a four-day sale, with an industry average of $100,000 for a four-day, managed event considered acceptable and obtainable. Generally, if after the event, gross profit (often includes both front and back end) falls to around $50-75,000, the performance-based company will refund the full advertising cost to the dealer. It is commonly accepted that most dealers should expect to invest between $10,000 up to $75,000, depending on budget and the event theme. The event company generally provides the selling power by bringing in their own proven sales teams and management. However, some companies view the dealers’ own sales teams as a valuable tool to the overall success of the event, and will work side by side to achieve maximum profits. Mark and Ann Proctor, nationally recognized dealers with 25 years experience and principals of, Inc. are firm believers in providing the highest quality sales and management teams available. “We’ll work with the dealers’ own salespeople and management team, and teach them how to maximize profit and CSI in a non-confrontational selling environment,” says Mark Proctor. “We’ve operated some of the most profitable and highest CSI/QCP stores in the nation. We build dealerships.”……….

Before the event, both the dealer and event company agree to a level of compensation provided minimum gross profits are achieved, with the industry standard being approximately 25-30 percent of the total gross profits after the sale going to the event company. And, the numbers can be appealing for dealers: Should an event generate $100,000 over four days (less the 30 percent fee, or $30,000), the dealer is left with $70,000, which is often more revenue than would normally be achieved in a month. “In addition to facilitating hundreds of customers to the event, and placing the dealership’s name and brand in front of thousands of prospects, staffed sales events turn aged inventory into profit that otherwise would be a wholesale loss,” adds Proctor.

Promoting the event
After deciding the theme and location of the event, auto dealers with the assistance of an event company should plan how to promote the event using a combination of advertising mediums, such as direct mail, TV, radio, and inserts to attract in-market buyers. It is also considered prudent for dealers to contact their existing customer base, in addition to new prospects, in order to make them aware of the sale. According to Tim Sethna, president of the North American Automotive Sales Events, Inc. (NAASE), one of the nations’ premier sales event companies for the past seven years, two of the most effective advertising mediums is direct mail and inserts. “The best way to use your existing advertising budget is to use a combination of direct mail and also short radio commercials, just before the sale,” explains Sethna. His company specializes in The Big Sale, which starts on a Wednesday and ends on a Monday guaranteeing at least $75,000 in gross profit provided the dealer has at least 75 clean front line ready pre-owned units. If dealers have 100 pre-owned units, NAASE guarantees $100,000. Sethna and his team pay close attention to helping dealers prepare for the sale by ensuring the dealerships showroom is set up with tables for customer registration, including decorations such as balloons and flyers on each table and showroom windows. “Our teams are not the usual green peas, but rather true, hard working, and experienced car people who are aggressive, and know how to get the job done,” says Sethna. “We have the nation’s most top qualified desk men, the strongest closers, and the most talented salespeople that you will ever work with.” He also believes the ideal mix of inventory for sales events is pre-owned vehicles with model year 2002 and newer. “Your upfront advertising commitment will always be the same,” Sethna says. “If we don’t hit our numbers, the advertising money is returned.” He adds that, provided the event company executes the advertising strategy, dealers shouldn’t need additional advertising dollars.

Creating a carnival-type atmosphere
Provided the pulling power of pre-event advertising has worked by enticing hundreds of ups to the event, one of the keys to helping ensure a successful sale is offering a fun incentive, or hook. While popcorn, hotdogs, and soda may satisfy the hungry few, holding their attention while waiting for a test drive or in line at the F&I desk may require a different approach. Increasing numbers of dealers are turning to insured prize contests to meet that need. Giant prize contests such as giant cash back bonus, or having an opportunity to win a brand new car using a lucky key or remote promotion can enhance your direct mail and advertising efforts, offering dealers a compelling hook. Insured prize contests such as hole-in-one contests are an inexpensive way to boost traffic while removing the risk to dealers of having a participant hit the jackpot. According to Amy Fanter of Reno-based Odds On Promotions, dealers pay a small premium to an insurance company based on a number of different factors, such as length of the hole, value of the vehicle, and the number of event participants. If a participant aces the target hole or wins the car, the insurance company pays for the prize. “With the latest promotional technology, such as bar-code coupons and touch screen games, customers can scan or play a game to win anything dealers want to offer,” says Fanter.

Whether your dealership chooses an on- or off-site sale, or hires a performance-based event company, Mark Proctor of, Inc. best sums it up: “All things being equal, a dealership will sell X number of cars primarily based on four things: inventory, advertising, personnel, and market conditions. The question is, how much profit will you make and how much will you keep?”