Reprinted from Atlanta Advertising Alert

7 Marketing Maneuvers to Help Car & Truck Dealers Get More Profits from Their Very Best Customers

by Rene Gnam, Advertising Consultant

EDITOR'S NOTE: RENE GNAM, the leading direct response advertising consultant, has worked with General Motors, Car Dealer Insider Newsletter, Corvette News, Mustang Monthly, Specialty Equipment Marketing Association, Car Review, Mid-America Corvette Supplies, Orange Buick, DeVoe Chevrolet, Truck Cap & Accessory Association, and AWAE Jobber. Readers will profit by his column of marketing advice and may contact him at 813-407-8400 or


Car dealers are so busy trying to sell new vehicles that they often don't have time to properly go after repeat business from their very best source -- customers who have already bought a new or used car, truck or R.V.

If your dealership is one of those overbusy places, refer to this checklist of how to get more business from the people you've already sold once:

Maneuver #1

Drop a "thank you" letter in the mail the same day that Joe or Susie picks up a new vehicle. Include the name of your service manager and a "preferential rate" discount coupon for the first service visit.

Maneuver #2

One week later, mail a "we love you and hope you love your car" letter. Include a bonus coupon good for something great, like a free radar detector, if the customer refers another chap who buys.

Maneuver #3

Three weeks later, send a "first service reminder" notice, just a card, with a reminder that the vehicle is under warranty. The customer must bring the card to your service manager for a free gift (windshield polishing cloth, ice scraper or something similar). This gives your service manager a chance to sell your extended service plan, but be sure to give the service manager a commission each time he succeeds!

Maneuver #4

Now create and mail, once every two months, a series of postcards alternating with letters and flyers -- all devoted to service visits. The cards are mailed by themselves. Letters go with enclosures on your special deals (tire sales, wiper checks, etc.), all designed to bring the same customer back.

Maneuver #5

At least twice a year, mail a "second car deal" flyer, with a super "private customer" discount not in your newspaper ads.

You might sell Joe or Susie a second car, but the main idea is to get them eager to keep opening your mail so they can find deals they can't get elsewhere. Also, you're building rapport, a feeling that you care, a desire to come back to you.

Maneuver #6

Stop crimes! I bought a new Lincoln Mark VI and a new Mercury Cougar Villager from the same dealer within five months, a few years ago. Not once has that dealer telephoned�ever! That's a crime! I switched to Cadillac. Show Joe and Susie you care, you value their business, you want more business. Use your phone! Fire the non-producing salesperson who can't exhibit written records of follow-up calls.

Maneuver #7

The most important maneuver is to set a schedule of direct mail promotions, time them with your secretary or assistant who becomes responsible for getting them addressed and posted, and do a decent job of setting up a "database" (mailing list with additional data) on your computer or at a computer service bureau.

     The series of mailings I've mentioned above must be timed starting with the date of purchase. Don't rely solely on your manufacturer promotions. They're insufficient to build the loyalty you want.

     Do use the manufacturer-provided promotions, and your own series, and also intersperse extra mass mailings to your complete list for "spring tune-ups", "winter prep", etc. Don�t think all this mail is offensive. It brings you business!


Rene Gnam is an independent response marketing consultant

specializing in creative advertising techniques.

He can be reached at 813-407-8400


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Rene Gnam is a Marketing Consultant and Advertising Copywriter

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