Five ways to boost your holiday sales

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I recently came across a statistic stating that consumers spend up to 70 percent of their discretionary income during the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

This stat was a quick reminder of just how important the holidays are for all of us in the motorcycle industry. In fact, this short, but critically important window of time can be the difference in meeting your annual sales goals and finishing the year in the black — or coming up short and seeing the dreaded red.

So my question for you: What are you doing now to prepare for the fast-approaching holiday season? Below are five strategies you can implement to maximize your holiday sales.

Procure the proper inventory mix. A great way to ensure you aren’t losing holiday sales because of improper stocking is to print a report of last year’s top 200 selling part numbers between weeks 47 and 52. Once you’ve reviewed and analyzed the proven winners of years past, take a look at your vendors and OEMs to see what hot new products are on the market this year that are similar to those from years past. Get a little feedback from your staff and your customers about holiday gift-giving suggestions. Also consider impulse items, counter displays, related and unrelated add-ons, and of course, gift cards.

Merchandise for success. As I learned back in my dealership days from powersports merchandising guru Jim Rasmus, successful merchandising begins with a plan. Put your customer hat on, and walk through the front doors as if you were a guest. Does your layout create a flow that forces every customer to have exposure to 80-plus percent of your inventory? Do you have exciting products displayed at key focal points? One thing that Rasmus always taught that’s stuck with me is the concept of “Every Day is a Grand Opening.” Your customers expect excitement when they visit a dealership and your merchandising plays a key role in whether that expectation is met or not. And most importantly, hitch your wagon to the emotion of the holiday season through themed displays. Hay bales and pumpkins are great during Thanksgiving, while Christmas music, holiday glitz, and employees dressed as Santa’s helpers help create those warm and fuzzy emotions during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays that get customers to spend major bucks.

Invest in the team. Yes I’m talking about training your staff. Sales are more often missed by a few words than a few dollars. Does your entire team understand the simple things like the importance of properly greeting every customer with a smile? Do they call your customers by name every chance they get? Have they been consistently trained on how to bypass just looking, to interview and investigate wants and needs, to develop rapport, and to perform value building presentations with features and benefits? Do they ask for the sale, handle objections, close, and follow up like pros? Not only does a trained team boost your repeat and referral sales they also significantly increase closing ratio and value per customer. A trained staff member aggressively seeking his clearly defined goals can be the difference your average P&A ticket being $10 or $100. A trained staff member can be the difference in your closing ratio being 5 percent or 25 percent.

Leverage your number one asset. No I’m not talking about your brick-and-mortar, your receivables, or cash on hand. As my colleague Rod Stuckey often says, “The number one asset that doesn’t show up on your balance sheet and your accountant never told you about is your customers!” It has been repeatedly proven that those most likely to give you money in the future are those who’ve already spent with you in the past. They already know, like and trust you, and you (hopefully) have an established relationship with them. However, to make your existing customers feel like you appreciate them, and their business, you must reach out on a regular basis with one-to-one relationship style marketing. With consistent communication via email, direct mail, social media and telephone, by inviting your customers to events you make them feel like they belong and are truly a part of your tribe. In addition to building the relationship, this creates immunity toward offers from your competitors.

Push all the way through the 13th month. I’m consistently amazed each year how many dealers I speak with who are closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In the retail business, this is called the 13th month because it’s the busiest shopping week of the year. In fact, many retailers do as much sales volume in this one week as they do in an entire month. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the mental and physical fatigue associated with working in a dealership during the holiday season, and I also understand the family commitments of the holidays that make it attractive to close up shop during that time. I did it for many years. But, there will be plenty of time to recover from the holiday hangover in January.

This story originally appeared in the DealernewsNovember 2011 issue.