OEC Blog

The best marketing tools available are likely already in your parts department

The best marketing tools available are likely already in your parts department

In today’s digital age, nearly any business can be done through an online platform. Just like you, your shop customers have hundreds of people they talk to every day. As an Account Support Rep who works with dealers every day, I get a lot of repeat questions. The two that stick out a lot are:

”How do you differentiate your dealership to customers, especially through an online platform when human interaction is limited?”

“How can I set my dealership apart in a digital marketplace?”

And just as I have shared with them, I will share with you, too.

Listening as a marketing strategy

One of the best marketing advices I received from my college professor is you. You are your very own marketing tool, and that sets you apart from the online crowd.  You are how you differentiate your dealership to your customers.

One way to stand out from the crowd is just listen. Really hear what your customers are saying.  Have you ever heard of the saying “Ears of an elephant, voice of a mouse”? This saying holds true when you listen to your customers.  Feedback is one of the greatest gifts your parts department will ever receive to better your business in the long run, so don’t shy away if they have a comment or two.

Warren Buffet once told a class of students that better communication could boost their value by fifty percent. That’s a lot. Any feedback is good feedback, even if it is negative. How else would you know you were doing something wrong or not the best way if no one ever told you? Requesting feedback gives you a chance to better your dealership for your customers and can assure what you are doing right.

Communication, communication, communication 

You’ve heard “location, location, location” when it comes to real estate, right? Communication should be part of your mantra. Trust is also huge in building relationships with your customers, but I know that probably isn’t a surprise to you. Contact your shops continually, not only when you need something from them. Consider emailing a regular newsletter to your customer base, a quick recap on how things are going and a small outlook into what is happening for the months ahead would show your customers you don’t just contact them for their sale. This is also the perfect opportunity to get updated shop information, including email addresses.

Everyone loves a good deal

Running special promotions to engage your customers will continue to satisfy your already established customer base while growing and add new customers. Our dealers have found success in running small mechanical parts promotions within their own departments, or they team up with dealers in their region on larger mechanical parts promotions. It’s easy to look to a dealer in your area as a competitor, but when it comes to OE parts sales, they are your friend – not your foe.

The typical results are a significant spike in shops buying more mechanical parts. The post promotion period sometimes reflect a decrease in transacting shops, but online sales figures tend to maintain (or even grow) after the promotion has ended. See below for the results with 4 unaffiliated dealerships in the same area:

Not too shabby, right? These results are not unique – we have many dealer-sponsored promotions that have similar results.

Don’t forget: You want to make sure you know what works and what doesn’t, so make sure to set measurable goals. Key Performance Indicators – or KPIs – level set what your end goal is and if you reach it. If it’s increasing your parts sales by 3%, make sure that you have actionable steps on how to reach that goal through the promotion.

Doing something is better than doing nothing

Some promotions may be a dud and some can be successful, but with the right planning, you will either get positive results, or lessons on how to improve your marketing strategy. The best part is our Account Support Reps are here to help, so just give us a call when you’re ready to start a parts promotion.