I was recently working with one of our Dealer Success Group members, and they asked the question “How do I know WHEN to spend our marketing money?” That is a great question because the seasonality of a dealership can dramatically affect when you spend your marketing money. Here are three important factors to keep in mind.

  1. Have a good understanding of your room for growth

This is a process we call forecasting, which in simple terms is looking to the past to understand our trends and our room for growth. When we understand the combination of our capacity and customer demand we can make informed decisions on where to spend our marketing money. By getting a grasp of your dealership’s capacity and understanding where you can grow, you can focus your marketing dollars and smooth out the vitality of your season and produce cash in times that are slower.

  1. Plan ahead

After we understand our room for growth, we need to plan on marketing money to be spent six weeks in advance.  Here is how this works. Let’s say we know that we will have capacity in our shop in December. Your expenses stay the same, but you don’t have any cash flow. So, as an owner or service manager, you would set marketing money aside to spend on a winter service special mailer at the end of October. This timing would bring the business in during December.  I see so many dealers fall into the trap of spending their marketing money right when they need work flowing in. Doing this is just wasting money! By spending your marketing money six weeks before you need the revenue, you are truly making the most of the money that you are spending.

  1. Make sure your marketing plan matches your goals

Finally, remember that your marketing plan is unique to you.  You should determine your goals for the year and make sure your plan lines up with them!

For example:  Do you want to maintain your current business? If so, you need to plan to bring in about 30% more customers in every year, and your marketing plan needs to reflect that. Statistically, 3 out of every 10 customers move every year.  Perhaps, you are in a place where you are wanting to scale down your business. Then, your marketing focus should be “How do I reach and maintain the best possible care of the customers that I currently have?”  Or maybe, you are you wanting to see significant growth.   Then you need to consider an aggressive, well-timed marketing plan that takes into account how to maintain your current level of business and reach new customers or expand your market share.

If you are serious about getting the highest return for you marketing dollar investment, take time to forecast, plan and set goals.  Then, you’ll be ready to implement your plan and take your dealership to the next level.