According to recent reports, the private investment firm of Michael Dell, founder of Dell Inc, is entering the automotive retailing industry.   Jeffrey Rachor, former Pep Boys chief will be running their future dealerships of MSD Capital.  In a recent meeting of the Detroit Economic Club, Dell was asked about the outlook for Detroit’s auto industry.  “I think,” he said, “there is opportunity all, up and down the spectrum.”

There seems to be a general consensus that the auto industry, much like the rest of the economy, is in trouble.  But Michael Dell is right.  Even in the worst markets, someone is always buying, and there is always opportunity.

So what types of things can you do to help your dealership adopt Mr. Dell’s attitude?

  • Focus on the Positive: More people than ever are looking to downsize their current vehicles, opting for smaller sizes and higher gas mileage.  This provides a great opportunity for promotion and getting people in the door.  There are always people that need cars, for one reason or another.
  • Measure, Measure, Measure: You have to measure to get results.  Without it, you can’t determine what is effective and what isn’t.  Make sure that all of your online efforts are measurable and check these reports as much as possible.  In a market where sales are harder to come by, you need to make sure that what you’re doing is working as best as possible.
  • Convert More Website Traffic:  Website leads are seemingly perfect.  Not only do these leads close at a higher rate than third party and even OEM leads, but they are also free.  Explore different ways to increase the percentage of web visitors you can turn into leads.  Try using incentives to prompt visitors to raise their hand, asking to be contacted by your dealership.
  • Work Your Leads Smarter, Not Harder:  Now that you have more, better quality leads, make sure you don’t lose their business.  Because of the increase in competition among dealerships, making your customer service stand out is imperative to winning a sale.  Explore web tools that can help you contact these leads as soon as they submit their info, putting you ahead of the other dealerships they may be shopping.  Also, ensure that you are providing effective and regular follow up.  Use a web tool that automates some of this nurturing so that no one slips through the cracks.
  • Focus on What is Working: What is profitable for your dealership is most important, but don’t let the areas that aren’t as strong fall by the wayside.  Just like almost everything else, the auto market is cyclical.  What no one wants to buy today will be tomorrow’s must-have.

How are you keeping your (and your customers) heads up during these increasingly downtimes?  What are the bright spots for your dealership, the money-makers?  What do you WISH your money-makers were?