Here come the holidays

By Ron Cariker

That time of year is here. And we always think it comes faster each year. So if you don’t have all your early holiday shopping done and you’re still putting together the finishing touches on your sales and promotions for the season join the club. No really — join the mobile club! From now until the end of the year, most businesses count on those incremental real dollars to perhaps make your budget and finish strong. But this doesn’t happen by accident.

Across the board retail foot traffic continues to decline. Brick and mortar stores are seeing more business move online and many are simply closing their doors forever. You’re in an industry where you rely heavily on that in-store customer experience. The customer needs to sit on that bike or try on that helmet, feel an engine rev and take that demo ride to make their purchase decision. Shopping online is just not part of the experience they are looking for most times. And an even bigger part of being your customer is the opportunity for camaraderie and sharing their love of the industry with others.

Having said all that it’s not enough to just expect them to show up during the holidays. Our lives become more hectic and usually the things that fall to the wayside first are some of our personal passions that don’t seem as important as what we can do for others. So as a business you need to be acutely focused on reaching that customer with the best possible experience and give them a reason to come pay you visit. 

Below are 7 specific ideas to help you be more proactive with your holiday customers and ways to retain them after the season.

1) Start yesterday

If you don’t already have a mobile strategy you need to start now. Find a reputable mobile vendor and build a simply text alert club. Offer customers something for signing up like a percent off a product or service. Once they're in your mobile club you now have countless opportunities to engage them with offers, information and everything going on at your dealership.

2) Reach current customers

I’ve explained in previous blog posts how incredibly valuable your customer data is you’ve already collected. Use this data to your advantage and to better serve your customers. The right mobile vendor will give you the ability to legally reach out to these customers via mobile and extend your existing relationship with them. Using the information you have on file about them like year/make/model of their purchase or last time they were in for service can all be used to start the mobile conversation and to give them an offer to return to your store.

3) Daily holiday promotions

Do you have a holiday promotion you’ve done in the past like the 12 Days of Christmas? You have a product featured each day. Consider making this mobile. Ask customers to sign up for this promotion specifically and send them a text alert each day about the one-day only featured item. Consider this daily offer in a graphic-rich, coupon format. Send the text alert and instruct the customer to click a unique link to open an image of the offer and they must show this when purchasing the item to receive the discount. The right mobile vendor will be able to track all this for you as well as allow customer to “share” these offers with friends/family via social media, email and even text message.

4) Find a partner

Look at all the partners you work with throughout the year from other promotions and select a few that you can tie your holiday promotions into. You could work with a local restaurant to encourage customers to get a break from the holiday shopping and get a discount and the restaurant through you. This benefits both you and the restaurant in a very meaningful way.

5) Mobile exclusives

It’s incredibly important to add value to being a mobile club member. Make it clear to your customers that being on the mobile club gets them special privileges. They don’t have to count points, or dollars spent or keep a punch card. They are simply being rewarded for their loyalty to you and by doing so they get special offers no other customers will get. Open an hour early or stay open an hour later for mobile club members. Do flash sales that last a few hours on certain days. All communicated through a simple text alert. Are you having a Santa for pictures? Offer mobile club members an exclusive with him.

6) Charity

During the holidays we know how important it is to give back. You most likely already do a coat drive or toy drive. Customers feel good about participating in this and it’s good for your business to help those less fortunate. Message your customers the obvious information about this endeavor but give them an incentive perhaps. Text out a daily “I Donated” picture of a customer that brought in an item. Use your mobile system for customers to “pledge” financial donations. Your mobile vendor should be able to give you the tools to display a graphic representation of real-time results of pledges. Then you send customers a link with instructions on how to fulfill their financial pledge through PayPal or similar commerce services.

7) Plan for 2018

All your hard work in the 4th quarter of 2017 should be springboard for the slower 1st quarter of 2018. Many customers have that holiday hangover and avoid shopping altogether come January. But you still have to keep the lights on and pay the bills. So find creative ways to encourage customers to come back during your “slower” season. Again, use some mobile exclusives to encourage customers to come in. Offer service-related incentives during the winter months. Do some additional workshops and offer mobile customers additional opportunities. Do you do winter storage? Communicate with customers via mobile if they’d like to have work done while you have their bikes.

Ultimately you are doing some promotion, sale or event during the holidays so make the most of it. Don’t do all that hard work without using it to build your business for the long term and not just that brief shopping moment at the end of the calendar year.

Customers will appreciate you more when you check in on them during the slow times after all then holiday madness. So don’t be caught January 1 wondering when, or if, that door will swing open again.

Ron Cariker is owner/president of 7 Media Group, a diverse mobile marketing firm based in the U.S. and the leading mobile provider for the powersports industry. Ron and his company have worked with over 100 dealers across the U.S. for the past 6 1/2 years. 

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