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What are you touting? Discounts or value?

By By Liz Keener

A couple months ago, I was in my car, and a commercial came on the radio that caught my attention. It was the voice of Ron Trzcinski, founder of The Original Mattress Factory, and what caught my attention was that he wasn’t advertising a Presidents Day sale like most other retailers that week. Instead, he was talking about his company’s lack of sales events and its focus on quality and value.

“I often wonder how some retailers are able to reduce their prices on Presidents Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, or any other day for that matter. What is it that happens in their stores on these particular days that doesn’t happen the rest of the year?” he asked in the radio spot. After proposing that other companies’ sales are either a discount on inflated prices or not even sales at all, he added, “At the Original Mattress factory, we avoid this confusion and keep things simple by offering the same fair price to every customer every day. This way you can always be certain that you’re getting the best possible value.

There’s that word — value. Value has been a key focus for a lot of dealers over the past few years as they seek to demonstrate to customers what makes their store the go-to place as opposed to a competitor, an Internet retailer or even a private seller.

This reminds me of an educational session Don Cooper presented to powersports dealers in 2011 called “Breaking the Discounting Habit,” during which Cooper told dealers that only 14 percent of consumers buy solely on price. He explained that most people don’t necessarily want the best price, but they want the best value, so dealers should find what makes them unique and show that to their prospects and customers.

Sure, what makes some dealerships unique is they “will not be undersold,” but how much more work do they have to put into selling units because with lower margins comes the need for higher volume? What do you think speaks more to a customer and makes them loyal? Giving them a one-time discount on a boat, or getting to know them personally and remembering their name and everything about their boat and their family the next time they come in? The answer, as Jennifer Robison once explained in a blog, is “Loyalty comes from good customer experiences.”

Now I’m not saying you can’t have a sale now and then. Unlike mattresses, boats are seasonal, and clearing out obsolete merchandise from season to season is sometimes necessary. However, offering a discount on a brand new vehicle to a haggler is a different story. As Sam Dantzler said at last year’s MDCE, if you can show a customer what makes your dealership and your salespeople worth the extra $500 (probably less than $20/month over a three-year loan) or whatever the difference is between you and the competitor, they’ll probably be willing to pay it. You just have to show them the value.


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