Go Further This Holiday Season

It is no secret that car sales have been steadily improving, most notably in the past few months. As we near the peak time for end of the year sales, many consumers are already anticipating the largest surge in specials thus far since dealerships will be looking to purge remaining previous year models, like 2009 and 2010, at prices buyers hope will be drastically lower than a new 2011.

“We have high expectations for December sales as year-end clearance events should drive the industry to its best unit sales total of the year,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of Industry Insight for TrueCar.com.

-Car sales surging as year nears end

In the Outsell Live Chat Center, while Black Friday saw a surge of consumers, the week between Christmas and New Years is often the busiest time of the year. But there are still some hurdles ahead, according to the previous article.

“Even with a strong close to 2010, there remains a moderate level of risk with automotive sales in 2011. Thus, J.D. Power’s forecast for next year has been adjusted downward to 10.4 million units for retail sales and 12.8 million units for total sales.”

The other change in consumer habits is the tendency toward buying American, possibly due to the large amount of vehicle recalls in the past year that, while spanning most major car companies, began with Toyota’s high-profile accelerator recalls.

In this difficult economic time, consumers are also being much savvier as shoppers, researching online more vigorously than previous years.

SmartMoney posted an article in August for “7 Strategies for Model Year-End Car Shopping”. Dealerships can use SmartMoney’s tips for themselves to better tailor their specials:

1. Start online

By researching and checking sites like Edmunds.com and Cars.com first, consumers are prepared to compare incentives and rebates for the best deals over a variety of makes and models. Know your competition, especially with models that have similar appeal.

2. Time the purchase right

Dealerships are not as overflowing with inventory this year, so consumers with specific criteria might be shopping model year-end sales earlier. Starting more sales before that final week of 2010 might pull in just the amount of additional purchases you are looking for.

3. Consider high-end cars

Industry analysts say dealers are offering more incentives on luxury cars, not to mention options on leasing that is also becoming a more common request in the Outsell Live Chat Center as consumers are seeking lower monthly payments. Competing with luxury models could be as easy as offering certain trim levels at a lower price, or having more leasing options available.

4. Buy into low-interest financing deals

0% is now the norm to most consumers. For some, if that isn’t on the table, they are already out the door. Be ready to compete with that standard.

5. Call ahead

It’s true that this is a busy time for shoppers and retailers alike, so consumers may be looking to get as much done ahead of time as possible. Allow for your consumers more online shopping options.

6. Watch for upcoming redesigns

Big news recently is the dropping of the Honda Element after this year. Consumers may be on the lookout for models they know they might not be able to get again. Many consumers will also choose to wait if a new model is up for a redesign, but could be convinced to save on the previous model with the right incentives.

7. Make the switch (or stay loyal)

Loyalty rebates or rebates for trading in a specific brand are also becoming expected by many consumers. Give customers a reason to stick with or change to your dealership brand, especially when they have a trade.

On the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community, Richard Klepach posted a discussion question at the end of last year about how to best summarize management staffs strengths and weaknesses to plan for a better year ahead. Jerry Thibeau, Founder and President of Phone-Up Ninjas, suggested that one of the most important things a dealership can do at year’s end is to look at their CRM. He also gave an Example Report that, while a year old now, still details the importance of looking at previous data to plan for the future.

Lastly, we are in an age of the digitally literate. Not only are consumers shopping online, they are looking at online reviews of dealerships, looking into Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, and playing every angle they can to get the best deal. Don’t hesitate to meet your potential customers at every step of the way.

As we near this busy time for end of the year sales, look back at what you did in 2009 and step up your efforts. Consumers are looking for the best deals they can find. Rather than be disappointed if a dealership they were loyal to a year ago doesn’t have the level of sales they were hoping for, many consumers might turn elsewhere if the incentives aren’t appealing.

Are you keeping up with what is considered to be some of the best deals for December 2010?

Good luck in your sales endeavors as we bring 2010 to a close and Happy Holidays!