Bye-Bye, 9 to 5: Ohio dealer builds online sales division from home

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On a typical day, Brittany Roush will manage parts and accessories sales, answer customer questions, fill orders, process billing, and any marketing tasks that often are assigned to retail managers. The only difference, however, is Roush does 90 percent of her duties from home.

“I started as in accessories sales at the store,” the Internet manager for Rick Roush Motor Sports says. “When I got pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t want to give up working, but I wanted to spend more time with her.” Rick Roush, Brittany’s father, decided that starting an online offshoot of his parts and accessories wing would be the answer. The result has been an average of $40,000 per month in sales — which is especially positive during the winter months, when the riding season in Ohio screeches to a halt.

“We’ve got a lot of people checking out our website,” Roush says. “Probably 50 percent of parts and accessories sales are from online.”

Marketing, of course, is key to these successful sales numbers. Roush spend an ample amount of time tending to the Facebook page, email alerts and even posting in online riding forums. Mainly, these are various forms of inexpensive word-of-mouth marketing.

“It’s always nice to have the Facebook page, since Facebook tends to be really popular,” Roush says. “We started doing coupon codes for [Facebook fans], where they’ll receive an exclusive coupon from us.” Roush says that the simple act of Facebook tagging can have a profound effect on sales. “If there’s a customer of ours who has 600 Facebook friends, and they tag us in a post, it’s kind of like advertising,” she says. “So that helps spread the word about our website.”

Roush also has been known to give out special coupons to customers who post positive feedback about the store in online forums. “They’ll send us a link to the review,” Roush says. “And we’ll give them a coupon code.”

Another tactic that Roush uses to draw in customers is listing products at discounted prices. “We discount the MSRP through the website to compensate for the shipping the customer has to pay,” Roush says. Though dealers may hesitate to do this, Roush says that the volume of sales the website brings in makes up for it.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews November 2011 issue.