How did the same dealership with the same brand in the same location increase their sales from only 30 cars a month to nearly 300 cars per month in only a half year’s time during the recession?
Teddy Nissan, formerly Cox Nissan, was purchased in August 2009 by Ted Bessen, formerly a partner of Potamkin Automotive Group, and Steve Risso, an automotive veteran who ran multiple stores and NADA 20 groups. This story explains how these 2 guys bought and paid for the cost of the entire dealership within 9 months of reopening a closed point and creating close to 100 new jobs for the local economy in a economically challenged environment.
“We saw the peak of the recession as the perfect opportunity to reopen this point,” said Bessen. “Timing was good with the revitalization that Cash for Clunkers brought to the market.”
Bessen and Risso updated the facility and opened their doors August ‘09. “We both have run multiple stores but this was the first time we had to start from scratch so we had a lot of work to do without a lot of time,” said Risso. “Getting the facility right, buying equipment, hiring and training the right people and bringing in enough customers to pay for it all. Generating traffic and revenue was our primary goal because the dealership was out of business for about a year and there was no customer base. With all we had in front of us, we hired www.Tier10Marketing.com to help us create and implement our marketing plan for sales and service.” Below is a summary of the strategy Teddy Nissan implemented to grow their sales by over 200 vehicles a month in the first 9 months of being in business.
Teddy Nissan is located in one of the largest markets in the world where everything is expensive, especially advertising. “New York city has 11 million people and traditional advertising costs a lot, and generates too little, because most consumers watching TV and listening to the radio are not in the market for a Nissan this month,” said David Boice from Tier10Marketing.com. “We identified 56,000 prospects in the Bronx that had the highest statistical probability of buying and servicing with the dealership so we could execute blended marketing campaigns that had a higher return. We used less expensive, higher impact campaigns that blended the internet, search marketing, email, text, direct mail and point of sale merchandising at the dealership so everything was connected.”
Teddy Nissan’s marketing is not like your typical car dealer. Their logo is a teddy bear and the design of their materials look more like manufacturer ads than local car dealer advertising. “Customers have a hard time trusting dealers and we wanted to soften the edge and increase the credibility of our brand with high-end designs that build trust with consumers,” said Bessen. “When a customer sees an offer on our banner ads they will see that same message and campaign integrated on all our advertising, our websites, emails, direct mail and the point of sale materials in the dealership. Many dealers will have one ad on tv, another message in the paper, another on a mailer, nothing about their sale on their website and emails sent with a completely different message. That is why we hired a marketing company who specializes in digital and traditional advertising, so we could have one strategy that is completely connected and consistent…. and it works.”
“Since most of our customers shop online we have an in-depth strategy for search engine optimization and marketing, email marketing, banner ads on popular websites and positive online reputation management. In a short time, we have built a big following on top social media platforms including Facebook and twitter. Now we can communicate with thousands of customers for free and we drive them to a campaign micro-site where the message, offers, look and feel are consistent with our current campaign. One of our sales micro-sites is www.TeddyNissanInfo.com and ww.TeddyExpressService.com is a micro site with all of our service offers. We also use www.AutoTrader.com to promote our used cars online but the closing ratios and gross profits of our own leads are much higher.
Online Reputation Management
Teddy Nissan has made a lot of progress improving the reputation of the dealership after taking it over. When consumers google Teddy Nissan’s name or the name of the dealer principles they will discover positive reviews from satisfied customers and news and information about Teddy’s positive involvement in the community, like the fact that Teddy Nissan recently sponsored a Bronx Youth Basketball team that competed in a national tournament in Las Vegas and placed 2nd. “We also try to take pictures of all our customers with their car, send them the photo and ask them to post it on Facebook so we can get positive exposure to all their friends,” said Risso. Additionally, “all our satisfied customers receive post cards that give them instructions on how to share their positive opinion on popular review sites like Google Place Reviews and Dealer Rater amongst many others.”
We built and advertised a Nissan Vehicle Purchase Program to all our eligible employees and companies that qualify for Nissan’s program. In addition, we build our own program for companies who want to give their employees an additional benefit. Our Corporate Vehicle Purchase Program offers eligible employees special pricing and service and it has helped us attract and sell a lot of customers who otherwise were not considering a Nissan. “We built and sent an information package to the HR departments of the largest organizations in New York to ask them if they would like to offer this free benefit to their employees and we give them a campaign kit to promote it internally,” said Scott Fletcher from Tier10Marketing.com.
“One of the highest impact parts of our strategy has been to send targeted email and direct mail to consumers who are in the market now,” said Bessen. “A lot of dealers send multiple emails and mailers from sales and different ones from service, but that costs too much and it overloads the customers to the point where they pay less attention.” Teddy Nissan only sends one set of emails and mailers a month that promote all of their profit centers in one communication and they customize the offers based on the customer’s vehicle, miles and position in their ownership cycle.
“If a customer is driving a 3 year old Maxima with 30,000 miles they may want to trade-in their vehicle or they may need major service and would benefit from buying an extended service agreement,” said Budd Blackburn, co-founder of TeamVelocityMarketing.com, Teddy’s targeted marketing company. “We send a custom email and mailer that includes a sales offer to trade-in their vehicle and we include a service offer along with an option to extend their service agreement all in one contact. It costs less money than sending 3 separate mailers and it is easier for the customer.” Risso added, “we track all our ads with dedicated 800 #s and listen to every call that comes into the dealership to help us identify which targeted marketing campaigns work the best. For instance, we know direct mail generates the most phone calls for sales and service and is most cost effective because everything is more expensive in a big market, like New York, but the cost of email and postage is the same here as it is in the smallest market in the country.”
After a customer buys a vehicle Teddy Nissan has a complete communication system to thank their customers, welcome them to service, remind them when they need to come in, when they need an extended service agreement, how they can buy accessories and when they can upgrade into a new vehicle all over again.
Every Customer Counts
No one knows the value of a customer better than dealers who open a new dealership without any current customers. To make sure our customers are being treated right, we use CallRevu to monitor every single call that comes into the dealership to track the advertising and to make sure every customer is treated properly. “We spend a lot of money to make the phone ring and we want to make sure we convert as many calls into customers as possible,” said Bessen. “We use CallRevu to monitor and transcribe all our calls and they send real-time alerts to our managers when a customer is mishandled on the phone so we can respond and repair the relationship within minutes. “We get daily and weekly reports that identify what marketing is working, our appointment rates and closing ratios by ad source and representative. It is a great tool for our daily “save a deal” meetings and for our ongoing training to improve our team’s phone skills.
Facility & Customer Experience
“We go through a lot of effort and expense to bring customers into the dealership so we do our best to make their experience at the dealership a pleasure,” said Bessen. “Part of that is having the signage, clean showrooms and service areas, friendly staff and the right ambiance. We spend a lot of time training our team so we can provide exceptional customer service.” Teddy’s facility is first-class and the point of sale posters, brochures, table tops and balloons are professionally designed and consistent with their overall marketing message to consumers.
In a Nutshell
- Teddy Nissan increased sales from 30 units to 225 in only 9 months.
- Teddy Nissan used www.Tier10Marketing.com to implement a comprehensive marketing strategy that integrates all aspects of marketing including, digital, traditional, targeted direct mail, email, text, publicity, social, reputation management, niche marketing, point-of-sale merchandising and retention.
- Teddy Nissan used www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com to target consumers with the highest statistical probability of purchasing or servicing their vehicles with the dealership using email, text and direct mail to consumers who buy more, service more, return more and refer more.
- Teddy Nissan increased their leads by putting a new dealer site at the top of search engines.
- Teddy Nissan improved dealership reputation by asking satisfied customers to share their positive experience on sites like Google Place Reviews, Dealer Rater, Facebook and Twitter.
- Teddy Nissan created a Nissan Vehicle Purchase Program for their employees, as well as, a Corporate
- Vehicle Purchase Programs for large corporations to offer to their employees.
- Teddy Nissan updated the facility and use point of sale merchandising that is consistent with all their advertising.