Being in fixed operations, you’re well acquainted with the life cycle of a vehicle. The car sells. That same vehicle is brought back to be serviced or to have parts replaced whenever necessary. Should the unfortunate event that a customer gets into an accident occur, that vehicle is brought to the collision repair center and, eventually, bought back for trade-in where it is serviced and parts are replaced before being placed on the used car lot.
Each department and segment of the life cycle depends on another department, so why are most marketing messages targeting just one?
“We want to help our customers through their entire life cycle,” Megan Del Pizzo, vice president of Tom Bush Family of Dealerships in Florida, says. “It’s important to have open communication because they (departments) are so dependent on one another. Sales sells the first car, but service sells every car after that. It’s better for everyone that they work together.”
When Del Pizzo joined Tom Bush in 2013, the marketing department looked very different than it does today. At the time, each department’s manager was in charge of its own marketing efforts and there was no collaboration or marketing expert in charge. Del Pizzo made a push to change this and open the lines of communication between the departments when it came to branding.
“[Before] it created a fragmented message across different departments,” Del Pizzo says. “It made sense to unify it so there was one message.”
Even though the dealership group still sends out marketing messages specific to departments, it makes an effort to hit on multiple departments when appropriate to do so, such as around the holiday or email campaigns.
Del Pizzo shares her top tips for creating transparency in marketing through fixed operations and delivering a message that best fits the needs of the brand.
Open communication is key.
The marketing team at Tom Bush meets with each manager to understand the message that he or she is trying to get across and what they want to promote and what they want it to look like, Del Pizzo explains. Once that has been established, the message is created and then proofed by leaders in the dealership so all of the managers know what is being promoted in the other departments.
“We don’t work in a silo,” Del Pizzo says. “We meet with all of the managers to make sure it makes sense for them.”
Beyond the marketing, Del Pizzo says that in each of their service departments, there’s a sales person working, just to make sure any questions that arise about vehicle sales are answered correctly.
Cross-market when the time is right.
As Del Pizzo points out, it’s not always necessary to promote sales and fixed operations together; it’s more important to create segmented marketing messages and multi-beneficial ones. The route that is taken all depends on the end goal.
“Most often, we’re segmenting the audience because it doesn’t make sense to have a message for all of the departments in one communication,” Del Pizzo says. “We look at where someone is in the [vehicle] lifecycle and target the message to them.”
However, there are situations where you can target multiple departments in one message. Del Pizzo says many of the email campaigns that are sent out highlight multiple deals and promotions from fixed operations and sales as they hit a larger, broader audience. One campaign that Del Pizzo says has worked particularly well is the buy-back campaign.
“[The campaign] helps the whole dealership,” Del Pizzo says. “Vehicle trade-ins that come into the used car department will need to be serviced and get parts and then sold again. All departments benefit from it.”
Another situation that she’s found cross-marketing to be especially beneficial is around the holidays. Tom Bush does a Black Friday promotion that hits on different departments, including sales and service.
“The email message for Black Friday, we had to have everyone involved so they could see what other departments were running,” Del Pizzo says.
The campaign hits on buying cars or parts and service for upcoming gifts, as well as suggesting maintenance for upcoming holiday trips.
Remember your overarching message.
“We work closely with each manager and we meet with them often to see what message they’re trying to get across,” Del Pizzo says. “What message are they trying to get across? What do they want things to look like? Feel like? [Then] we make sure it fits the brand message.”
Creating a unified message is so important because it helps distinguish who you are in the consumer’s mind, Del Pizzo explains. This should be consistent between all departments.