Service and value don't mean anything

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If we penned a list of the most meaningless claims we can make about our dealerships, I suggest good “service” and “value” should top the list. “Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “aren’t those the very things we want to give our customers?” Answer: Yes. Problem: Every dealer in your market area makes the same claims whether they actually deliver on them or not! To make it worse, so does every car dealer, appliance dealer, lawn mower dealer, RV dealer. . . well, you get the idea. The bottom line is the customer simply blows off these claims as meaningless ad jargon.

What’s really needed in our industry is for some dealers to run ads that promise lousy service and poor value! Now that would differentiate dealers. And, there’s no doubt we have dealers among us who live up to such claims. But since no one seems willing to run those ads, just claiming good service and value won’t cut it.

Today, differentiating is the key to successful advertising and promotion. Think about this: We’re always urging our salesmen to tell prospects about what makes our dealership different from the other guy in their sales presentations, but then we just mindlessly throw in the words “service” and “value” in our promotional materials. 

A dealership can differentiate itself in many ways by the unique things it does or offers. For example, good “service” takes on real meaning when you advertise “Our Service Department offers convenient drive-thru winterization service” as does the Marine Center in Indianapolis. The customer pulls up, waits in the showroom with fresh coffee and TV while Service completes the job.

What about “value,” another word that has lost its impact.

First, creating new things is not the key to creating “value.” After all, “value” is not what we think it is. Only the customers decide the worth of something with their checkbooks. So, “value,” like “service,” must be differentiated and promoted. When every customer purchases a boat at Marine Connection in West Palm Beach he is given the cell phone numbers for both the operations manager and the general manager, and is encouraged to call any time they need assistance. Real “value” has been added for the customer.

The point is, if you’re just claiming your dealership offers better “service” and “value," but don’t define how and why, you’re trying to claim you’re better. You really need to be showing that you’re different. Be better because you’re different!