Today is the 106th anniversary of Ford’s Model T, a special car that changed the automobile industry forever. Not only did it introduce new mass-production methods, the Model T also changed the notion of the automobile entirely, shifting it from a luxury item only the rich could afford to a necessity available for everyone.
The exciting features of the Model T are what made it so special. Embracing these same qualities can turn your dealership into a success story as well.
In his autobiography, Henry Ford fondly recalls announcing that he would make his car available to the customer in “any color he wants, so long as it is black.” While this plan may not have been the most accommodating, Ford was a shrewd planner and knew exactly how he wanted his product to be treated.
While only offering vehicles in one color is somewhat extreme, you can still learn from Ford’s strategy. Find what makes your dealership special and use it to stand out from the dealership next door (and the one next to that). Maybe you offer a fancy gift with every new car purchase. Maybe all of your big trucks come with trucker hats. Or maybe all your cars are black. Whatever it is, find your niche and stick to it!
Although you might not have guessed it from the color options that Ford offered (or lack thereof), he was actually pretty comfortable with the flexibility in how his cars were used. A large part of the American economy during the Model T’s reign was agricultural, so many of Ford’s customers saw the vehicle as an opportunity for better farming. Customers converted the Model T into a tractor so often that some companies sold prefab kits to help them reconfigure their cars.
That means it’s time to start selling tractors at your dealership! Well, maybe not, but you should still customize your vehicles. If a customer is ready to make a purchase, but really wants tinted windows, offer to take care of the tinting yourself! And utilize your service center as much as you can. Those guys know what they’re doing, so why not give them a chance to soup up some cars? They might just end up helping you find your marketing niche!
Henry Ford wanted to be sure any man could own a car and enjoy the open road with his family. As a result of this noble goal, Ford would pass along the savings from his innovative assembly methods to his customers by continuously lowering the price of the car in its years of production.
Ford had a real passion for cars and people. Your business exists to sell cars to people, so make sure you remember you’re selling cars to people. These are people with lives, families and jobs. If your sales team can keep that in mind, they can better connect with them, build rapport and, yes, make the sale.
The Model T changed the automotive industry forever and its success has taught those in the industry many lessons. To take a look at how far the industry has come, check out this infographic about the car dealerships of today.