Your end of year sales are coming up, if you’re not there already. November came quickly this year, didn’t it? Every time November swings around, you should be asking yourself this …

What are my competitors doing?

Far too often in the dealership world, we pay more attention to hustling for customers ourselves than we do looking at how our competition is doing. If you’re not paying attention to your competitors, you could very well be missing out on a valuable opportunity to step up your game. The end result could be less customers for you, and more for your competitor.

Look at Their Automotive Direct Mailers

Chances are, your business address might not be on a competitor dealer’s customer list – but your residential address should be. If it’s not, one of your employees should be on that list. You should have access to any direct mail materials sent out by the competition.

When you get these mailers, take a careful look at them and what your competitors are doing. What’s the first thing you notice? Is there a picture of the cars, a price point, a call to action? Sit down and really analyze the mailer – whatever grabs you will likely be what grabs a potential customer.

What dates are your competitors doing year end sales? Are they promising incentives or deals that your dealership or other dealerships don’t match? Carefully analyze and make a list of all the advertising components your competitors are using. Don’t immediately compare your marketing materials to a competitor’s – just relax, and take notes. If their mailer gives you an idea of how to improve your automotive direct mailer for next year or any future promotions, it’s worth taking a look.

Send in the Spies

There’s a way to shop on a competitor’s lot, and a way NOT to do it. If you, personally go to every different car lot every year, you’re going to get a bad reputation for doing this – especially if you’re in a small town. Just about every dealership employee gets some kind of special financing for a car, so you can’t necessarily go shopping on other car lots four times and year and be believable.

So, ask your family members to do it. Ask your friends to go. Have them come back and tell you what kind of service they’re receiving, if the cars are nice, and what kind of deals they’re getting. It’s understandable if you live in a very small town and can’t pull this off reliably, but it can be a great way to gather info about promotions if you let your loved ones know what to look for. You don’t have to necessarily be deceptive or underhanded. Either way, it’s a great way to gather info.

Don’t just rely on your own strategies to get you customers – do research and find out what your competitors are doing. You may learn more about your own marketing strategy by doing so than you ever thought possible.