Exciting… Hectic… Stressful… these are just a few of the things you may feel during the emotional roller coaster ride of a build out. It’s natural to feel these things; renovating a dealership is a big job with lots of moving pieces and parts. But the light at the end of the tunnel is so bright it makes it all worth it in the end, or does it?

Regrettably, the last thing most dealers or managers are thinking about during this stressful time is increasing sales and profitability. Just completing the project with minimal causalities is the primary objective.

Many dealers think that at the completion of the build out there will be a flood of traffic and new business. Frankly, traffic often decreases during the construction phase due to the dust, clutter and commotion, but dealers are still optimistic that afterward the people will rush to the beautiful new space. Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite. The movie mantra, “If you build it they will come,” does not apply to car dealerships.

Things may seem stressful during a build out, but many dealers we talk to are even more stressed afterward. Often it seems the traffic volume after the renovation doesn’t live up to their expectations. And now, with a larger nut to crack every month in overhead, profitability begins to suffer. So while conventional wisdom suggests you shouldn’t try anything new, shouldn’t do much marketing or pile on more changes during a build out, the opposite advice is more likely to deliver the end result dealers are hoping for when they begin a build out project.

Here are a few helpful hints on “making it rain” while you’re buried in a build out.

  1. Implement change when change is already occurring: There is no better time to do something new than when change is already occurring and justified by something as significant as a build out. The entire store is in flux during the renovations and at the end of the process everyone realizes that they will need to adjust to the new surroundings and make changes to their daily activities. This is the time when employees will be most receptive to new ideas and implementing new strategies. Taking advantage of this period of unrest by instituting new processes, marketing strategies and even introducing a new vision and culture into the store is a smart play and can be worth a fortune in the long run.
  1. Create internal excitement: Most dealers believe that a build out should be used to create excitement externally. But the reality is that the majority of people in the community rarely care about the size or condition of your facility unless they are there to shop. The people who do care are your employees and past customers. It is with these people that creating and leveraging excitement can give you a boost in sales and profitability.
  1. Boost Traffic: A herculean effort should be made to increase traffic to the dealership during a build out in order to keep the sales level and staff morale up. Sales can easily drop during this time and be excused away by the current conditions. This is dangerous because it allows employees to get sloppy and start to accept lesser results. Then profits start to drop off even further. Increasing traffic keeps everyone on their toes. It keeps skills honed, focus sharp and morale high. And when the build out is complete, the new traffic strategies you’ve implemented when the building was under construction will work double duty at your bright and shiny new facility.

So there you have it. Don’t let a build out distract you from the ultimate goal—generating more traffic and increasing sales. Now is the time to make hay while the sun is shining and before the dust settles. We’ll see you next time!