When you think of real estate and businesses, you think of curb appeal. The curb appeal is what the house or business looks like on the outside, from the curb, and as prospective buyers walk up. The same principle applies to used car lots. An inviting car lot, one with a great “curb appeal” attracts better customers. It shows them that your dealership is a safe and inviting place to shop.
But what makes a more inviting lot? Well, there are a lot of things you can do, and most of them won’t cost you a thing except for a little creativity and some time.
What makes a lot more inviting than another? The most important thing is the visual appeal, and that means some system of organization, no matter what that looks like for your particular lot.
For customers to feel welcome, your lot needs to:
- Be easy to navigate. It should be simple for them to get to the vehicles on the lot, walk around them, and view all of your inventory.
- Your inventory needs to be organized in some kind of system the potential buyer can figure out.
- Your lot needs to be clean and free of trash, junk, dirt, and debris of any kind.
These three areas are just the start. You’ll want to take each of them to a new level in order to stand out and attract better customers.
The first thing a customer will notice is the cleanliness of your lot. This means from the front sidewalk near the street to the parking lot itself. If you have landscaping, make sure it is free of trash, and bushes and plants are healthy, trimmed, and well maintained. Make sure any grassy areas are mowed and trimmed as well.
If you have to, hire landscaping services. Also, be sure that the sidewalks and paved areas of the lot are swept or blown free of dirt regularly. Be sure that your office and any other buildings are neat and well-maintained. These, and the vehicles you sell, are the first things that a potential buyer sees.
They also see the vehicles on your lot. Your vehicles should also be washed regularly and look good on the outside. Be sure the exterior of vehicles is in good repair: dents, broken items, or even bad paint jobs can quickly turn customers off.
Once the exterior looks neat and clean, it’s time to get creative.
Creativity often shows up in good merchandising. For example, if you have several models of the same vehicle in different colors, place them next to each other in a row, showcasing the variety you have in this model.
You can also organize vehicles by make, the gas mileage they get, or even by the type of vehicle: trucks in one section, sedans in another, electric vehicles in another section. Think of how your customers shop for vehicles and arrange them in a way that makes that process as easy as possible.
Don’t be afraid to try different things. Watch how customers move around the lot, and make changes based on their behavior and the application of your creative ideas.
While a spray-painted sign on cardboard might do for selling your old truck on Craigslist, it lacks appeal on a professional car lot. Buyers are warier than ever before, and they want to know that you are a dealer that can be trusted.
That trust comes from the signage you use to draw them in. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with a pun or a joke of the week. Instead, it means those things should be done with signs that are professionally designed, in good repair, and that use colors that attract attention.
Your sign is a part of your curb appeal. Use it wisely.
Ways to make your lot inviting without spending a fortune
When you look over the list above, it is easy to see how you can make most of these changes with little to no expense. Cleaning up and using unique merchandising techniques simply require some thought, and they can even be fun.
And any investment in truly professional signage will last for years to come. While it may cost something now it will pay huge dividends in the long run, as you attract better customers and more sincere buyers, so you sell more cars. NIADA has supported the independent used auto dealer community for more than 75 years. Check out the NIADA and join today to become a part of one of the most professional and established automotive organizations in the country.