Start with a customer’s perspective to improve your dealership – April 24, 2006

This series of articles will recap some of the opportunities that were uncovered by our GSA Powersports specialists during actual consulting visits. These opportunities are followed by recommended actions that address the issues. Following these recommendations proved to help dealers become more productive and profitable.
Dealership Details
The subject dealership is located 15 minutes outside of a major metro area. They are selling 600 units per year and struggling to make a profit. The focus of our visit was to provide the dealer with a high-level needs assessment of the facility and the sales department. The goal for the recommended actions was to (a) boost their floor traffic, (b) improve unit sales, (c) increase profitability and (d) build add-on accessory and clothing sales.
Step 1: The customer viewpoint
Signage for the dealership can be seen one-fourth mile before accessing the dealership. It is well lit, easy to find and has plenty of parking. The overall external appearance of the facility is generally attractive and inviting to customers. However, the window displays provide little visual impact for the viewer.
The customer does not get a “WOW!” feeling within the first 10 feet of entering the store. The customer’s eyes are not drawn to the store displays upon entry, but rather to an office that is facing the front door. Sadly, the office’s large window provides the initial visual impact. The customer’s eyes are then drawn to the used parts stacked on the floor in front of the office. Clearly, the customer’s vision should be attracted to product displays in order to stimulate the purchasing experience.
From here, attention is drawn to the parts counter, which is an immediate walk-up from the front door. This is a typical hardware-style counter, cluttered with books and parts. There was no counter-person available to service a customer. There is no parts manager.
To the left of the entrance was the showroom. This was not clearly marked, or easily seen. The traffic pattern leads to the parts counter rather than the showroom. Upon entering the showroom, there is a large fake rock display. The new unit displays are located behind this focal point.
The lighting in the store is not directed to enhance the product. The merchandise displays are not stimulating, and some are older and in poor condition. Parts, accessories and accessory mounting hardware are lying on the floor instead of being located on displays. The locations of various departments or restrooms are not obvious. There is no customer waiting area on the sales floor.
Recommended Actions

  • Window displays are an important attractant to drive-by customers and should provide exciting visual stimulation for walk-in traffic. Making these displays exciting and attractive will improve floor traffic, which leads to increased sales.
  • Moving the office to another location would improve your customers’ perception of the value of your business by providing a better first impression. Increasing the customers’ perception of the value of your business helps justify the prices of your products.
  • Counter areas are important merchandising locations. Keeping them free of parts books and clutter and adding high-quality impulse-item merchandising displays will increase sales of these high-profit, high-turn items.
  • The parts department should have a manager that is accountable for internal and external parts sales. The addition of an effective parts manager would ensure the counter is always staffed.
  • Relocating the counter to enable your customers to walk through product displays and experience the dealership on the way to the counter will increase sales of units, clothing and accessories.
  • Developing traffic flow patterns that lead to the showroom area ahead of the parts counter will increase showroom traffic leading to increased unit and accessory sales. Flow patterns can be created by remodeling the store to physically relocate the showroom ahead of the parts counter. Traffic is then directed through the showroom.
  • Creating a theme in the showroom will capture additional interest from customers, which will stimulate additional unit and accessory sales. This can be accomplished by moving the units to the front of the showroom area so they become the focal point. The related product displays increase the potential for clothing and accessory sales. psb

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