In the last year or so, I’ve spent a lot of time fishing the Tampa Bay area. On my way to our boat at the Harborage Marina in downtown St. Petersburg, I pass two dealerships less than 1/2-mile apart, both with excellent frontage on the main highway.
Beginning last November, I started noticing a very big difference between these two outlets. Specifically, one dealership appeared to change the boats displayed along the highway frontage every week or so. The other dealer, obviously, did not. Even today as I write this blog, sadly, virtually the same boats are in the same spots as they were 6 months ago!
Now, I say sadly because I feel for that dealer who, obviously, has not been able to turn that inventory in too long a time. But it’s really the difference in messages these two dealers are sending out to the drive-by traffic daily that has struck me. For all I know, the dealer who has steadfastly changed his boats may not have turned his inventory any more than the other guy, but I’ll bet he has. His attention to his image sends out a message that “we always have fresh product” every time I drive by. What he’s done is adapt a page from the real estate handbook.
Realtors call it “staging.” For them, it refers to decorating the inside of a house to appeal to target buyers. Recently, HomeGain, a California-based online lead service, surveyed 2000 member agents nationwide about the value of staging in selling homes. Ninety-one percent recommended staging as a marketing tool.
It’s not just the real estate business that recognizes the value of staging. Long ago, auto dealers adopted a policy of consistently changing the models in the showroom and, equally important, shuffling the cars, new and used, displayed along the dealership frontage. After all, a car sitting in the same place for a time sends a “distressed sale” message and buyers assume they can low-ball us, explains John Kolenc a top auto salesman in Ohio.
Changing the boats displayed out front, as well as inside the showroom, may not be as easy as moving some cars, but if sending out the message “we’re selling boats and our models are fresh” is important, moving them around will be worth the hassle. These days, we need to employ every advantage and attention to staging can be a big one.