I can always tell when the tourism returns to Florida. Not because the weather cools off or the traffic picks up. The thing that alerts me is that during our weekly staff meetings someone always brings up a great event they just heard about. When the tourists return, events pop up in our community like chicken pox! The community seems to have endless ideas of how to attract the newly arrived visitors. That first statement is usually followed by the question, should we be involved in the event? While we would like to attend every event, we have a limited amount of staff, time and money to invest. Oh yeah, and we have a dealership to run. It is true that events can be a great way to generate leads, but without proper planning they can also drain your dealership of resources with little or no return. We have found the best way to avoid the pitfall that events can become is to have an annual plan covering which events we are participating in. The following are a few more steps we use to help achieve maximum return from these events. Let me know your ideas for having a successful event and I'll include them next time.
Step one: Planning the event. Once you make an annual plan, each event needs its own check list showing things like event contact information, which units you are taking and what supplies or promotional material are going to be used for the event. Also, which staff members are going to man your booths and the time they are assigned. By using the checklist, the event should be set up and the equipment should be returned to the dealership in a smooth manner. Best Practice Tip — Have inventoried totes packed away with all the necessary supplies needed for event set up.
Step two: Promoting the event. This is maybe the hardest part of any event. It is easy to promote the event on your Facebook page and hand out flyers to your current customers, but how do you reach out to the folks that are going to be attending the event that you don’t know? First you should send an email to all your current customers in your database and invite them to bring friends. Then try contacting other venders at the event and see if they will share your ad with their customers and you theirs. Best Practice Tip — Make a deal with whoever is running the check-in stations for the event and have them hand out flyers inviting attendees to your booth for a special gift.
Step three: Success at the event. Once you have your event set up and your promotions are done. You must ensure the staff at the event has the product knowledge and personality to maximize the interactions at your booth. Your staff needs to know the purpose of these interactions and ensure they are promoting your product and your dealership. If you are trying to sell units at the event you will need more salespeople then if you are just trying to get information into the hands of potential buyers and drive them to your dealership. Know what outcome you want from the event before you start so you can focus on that outcome with visitors. Best Practice Tip — Have ample handouts and free swag. Studies show there is a direct correlation between attendee’s recollection of whose booths were at the event and how much free stuff they obtained at the booths.
Step Four: Follow up after the event. You have meet all the people, made them like your staff and products and collected their data. What now? You need to contact the customers, thank them for visiting and see if you can assist them in enjoying the powersports lifestyle. Make sure you invite them into your dealership. Best Practice Tip — Track all the leads in you CSM and schedule contacts. Track the success of those contacts so you know which events to do next year.
Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in southwest Florida. Jackson has more than 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.