A recent article in Automotive News tells the story of Carlos Liriano, a car dealer from New Orleans who migrated his dealership to Texas and brought with him a passion – gumbo. Initially, it started as a way to show appreciation to and treat his employees every month. But, at his dealership’s 5-year anniversary, he decided to invite the community, and they came. And, not only did they come when it first started, the community has kept coming to the point where customers are actually scheduling service appointments on the day gumbo is served.
What started with a couple of gallons of gumbo has grown into 25 gallons, feeding over 250 people. This dealer’s passion – and tradition – is increasing service business along with the top thing that every dealer wants – selling cars.
But why is his gumbo tradition so successful? Serving food at dealerships isn’t a new thing. How many dealers serve hot dogs, drinks and such on weekends? A lot.
What makes this so successful perhaps begins with the fact that his family’s gumbo recipe is good. Secondly, and most importantly, he chose to share that with both his staff and his local community – and it paid off. Even his digital marketing and social media efforts are reaping the rewards and endearing his dealership to the community.
Community involvement is a vital component in branding, in building trust and the DESIRE for local residents to do business with your dealership. Building trust with consumers isn’t always an easy task – especially if you’re a car dealer. The stereotypes and poor consumer perception can be an uphill battle. The big gorillas and wavy tube men do nothing but attract attention – and most of the time that attention simply confirms that the dealership is “just another car dealership.” There are many ways to stand out in your community and every community is different. Mr. Liriano simply embraced HIS passion for gumbo and then involved his community.
Consider exploring opportunities to embrace and involve your dealership in the local community. Keep in mind that you may not see results right away. But whatever your passion is, share that with your primary customers. Don’t use it as a selling gimmick, but as a genuine way to reach out to your community, share your passion and build rapport and trust. If you build it, service and sales will come.
Discover your passion and build it.