Do you recognize the profit center that your parts and accessories store can be within the walls of your dealership? Have you considered the impact of the retail store on the entire dealership? Based on a sampling of dealers from four different states, more than 50 percent of consumers who go to RV dealerships are there primarily for aftermarket parts and accessories.
By focusing on a few, simple marketing strategies in your retail store, you can promote a cycle of business throughout the dealership. By beginning with increased parts and accessories sales, you will increase utilization of the service department, and overall create a higher rate of potential buyers based on satisfied customers. The following marketing strategies have proven beneficial for dealerships in maximizing the potential of their parts and accessories stores.
Location, Location, Location
Merchandizing is crucial in your retail store. Consider how to entice the customer with planned product placement. End caps are considered “valuable real estate” because they are the most visible within the store. Take advantage of vendors who are offering complete end cap solutions. Remember to rotate end caps that are specific to the season; cleaning solutions in the spring and winterization in the fall.
Impulse items are often appropriate for end caps as well, and are “must-have” items around the cashier and near the service center. Also, new and exciting items near the front of the store will raise the bar for existing customers, and encourage opportunities for upgrading.
Based on marketing research, about 90 percent of your customers will enter your store, turn right, and walk through the store in a counterclockwise direction. Is your store laid out to capitalize on human nature? If the customer is going to automatically turn to the right this would not be the spot for the service counter or any staple items. By placing high dollar/high profit items to the right, you can maximize the potential of each customer.
Your customers need to be stimulated by the store throughout their shopping experience. Avoid allowing customers to walk in and out without being subjected to multiple buying opportunities. Try angling gondolas so customers are drawn to look down an aisle as they walk by. Also, set the store so the natural pattern for the customers promotes exposure to the entire store.
Display products that meet the common needs of your customers in more than one location. For example, place a bulk display of toilet paper near the cash register, while it is also displayed in the sanitation section of the store. You are helping them to be thorough in their purchasing, and everyone benefits.
Set up self-selling displays by placing associated products near each other to promote increased buying. For example, place external water filtration systems near water pressure regulators, or sewer hose supports near sewer hoses.
Place the top-of-the-line items in the direct view of the customer, grading down to the least-expensive version at the very bottom of the display.
Shed Some Light on the Subject
Lighting is one of the most effective merchandizing tools available to us. By changing the lighting in the retail store you can easily control the atmosphere, distinguish different departments, highlight new and exciting products, and draw the customer’s attention wherever you desire.
Home-like lighting helps customers personalize the products. Avoid the industrial atmosphere by installing some track lighting, lit gondolas, spot-lighting, and illuminated signs.
It is important to maintain all products as if they have just been received and displayed. If products appear old or dirty, they are not desirable and it becomes obvious that they have not sold in the past. As you keep products clean, consider rotating items that have not sold in their present locations. Stale products cost money, and changing the presentation can be financially beneficial.
Fill It Up, Please
A person with a shopping cart is more apt to buy because they have a convenient place to put their purchases. Baskets are not as desirable as carts – just think of the times you have decided to check out at the grocery store because the basket was getting too heavy to manage.
You don’t want your products causing your customers any pain. If your customer takes a basket because they only need a few products, their opportunity to impulse-buy may be limited. Offering shopping carts only will encourage increased buying.
Also, offer carts as an opportunity to save. For example – “Fill a cart and we will take 5 percent off of the entire purchase.”
Five Foot Rule
All staff needs to be committed to customer service, and a good place to start is by acknowledging any customer within five feet. This will ensure that your customers experience a warm and friendly environment.
Qualify your customers by asking questions: What products do they currently own? What kind of products appeal to them? The customers may not know what they need until staff educates them. Ensure your staff is confident in the product you retail by taking advantage of educational opportunities from distributors and vendors.
Who Are You Targeting?
Studies show that women buy 83 percent of all consumer products, including 94 percent of home furnishings, 80 percent of products for do-it-yourself projects, and 92 percent of vacations. Does this remind you of the RV industry in any way?
By making your store more appealing to women you can increase the amount of items that are sold, and encourage additional visits to the dealership by the entire family. Avoid the appearance of a hardware store, use more color in your presentation, and try some new items in your store that appeal to women.
Some examples for new items include organizers for limited space, creative storage ideas, items to simplify kitchen tasks, travel games for children, and any products that will enhance the home-like feel and comfort of an RV. Also, outsource into other markets that could potentially cross over into our industry and appeal to women.
This is a recreational industry, so consumers are participating in order to relax and have fun. They have chosen to spend their disposable income in this industry, so they must enjoy what camping has to offer.
The shopping experience for parts and accessories should be as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Some ideas for adding more fun: focus on a friendly atmosphere, create an outdoor theme using trees, murals or water features, and portray a camping scene that includes working displays of awnings, screen rooms, hitching, or grills.
Even if you can implement only a few of these simple strategies, you will place yourself a step-above your competition. If your parts and accessories store is enticing to the consumer, your staff well trained, and products thoughtfully displayed, it will be well worth your time and money. Marketing your retail store properly will capitalize on your opportunity for dealership-wide profitability.