Business Sense: Packaged Goods

Dec 3, 2009

Nowadays, we find ourselves in a completely different market than even a year ago – a market moving away from our known comfort zones. Selling an individual item or even a group of items that does not offer a high perceived value, no longer is acceptable to car dealers or their customers. More than ever we need to offer packages that have a high perceived value, as well

Put it together

Package the items that attract customers beyond the stock vehicle on the car lot. But remember, in this marketplace, adding just appearance to a vehicle may not be enough. We must provide items that customers find “necessary.” For example, add a Bluetooth or navigation unit to provide that current technology drivers want.

Adding just body-side molding or pinstriping isn’t going to generate the profit car dealers today need to sell a vehicle. It also doesn’t generate the emotional response (“I love this car.”) needed from the customer. You must create an “aura” around the vehicle that will generate a response from customers, making them desire the package that you add to the vehicle, and then be willing to spend extra money to purchase it. And, create a package that customers cannot easily go out and purchase and install themselves.

One package we have used included such items as heated seats, front and rear; this allowed us to offer something not available on most vehicles in the market. The package also included a new set of wheels and a leather kit with the name of the vehicle on the headrest and power lumbar support for the front seats. This gave the vehicle an identity -the name was carried on throughout the vehicle by use of an emblem on the rear lid, and embedded within the wood kit that was installed on this vehicle.

Dealing with dealers

The best way to decide on what packages to offer is to talk with the people who sell the vehicles. When I go into a dealership, I try to speak to the salespeople they’re the ones in the trenches getting input directly from the customers. They know best what customers are and aren’t looking for.

My next stop is usually the sales manager or the owner, depending on the store. By speaking to these people you will be able to tell how open they are to selling accessories and packages. Here’s where you have to become the salesperson and convince them of the advantages of selling packages. I’ll ask to discuss how they advertise their vehicles. Every time a dealership spends a dollar advertising the vehicle, it not only is advertising a vehicle for itself, it’s also advertising that same vehicle for every other dealer in the area. By allowing you to add a package and name it, the dealer can now advertise something unique. In this marketplace, every advertising dollar needs to generate as much direct impact as possible for a dealer.

Make sure you explain all the benefits you offer: You’re insured, you have trained or certified technicians, you’ve been in business for X amount of years and you’re going be there when needed. If you’re a member of any local or national business or automotive group, be sure to say so. This shows the dealer that you are passionate about your business and its future.

You also may want to tell a dealer you only sell top brand names; this is to protect both you and the dealer. Example: “We use the Parrot brand of Bluetooth because we feel it is the best in the marketplace.” Another: “We use the C&C Carworx brand of products because they offer a unique, limited available specialty line of products for Subaru vehicles.” The dealer will then feel more comfortable knowing that someone is not going to walk into a general parts store and be able to purchase the items you are installing on the vehicle.

Survival training

Though many of the accessories we’ve been using for years are still pertinent to our continuing business, restylers might need to learn new procedures for installations, and keep up to date on the latest technologies available.

Again, we want to create something that everyone wants. And everyone wants a vehicle unique to them. We need to learn how to create that same emotion and reaction when we create these packages for their new vehicles.

At the end of the day, we must all make money. The dealer has to have enough money in this package for him to put it on his showroom floor. The customers have to feel that they have received fair value for their money. We have to have made enough money to keep the customers – whether car dealer or individual consumer -to remain in business.