The unofficial start to summer is Memorial Day weekend, and it tends to be one of the busiest weekends in the US for vehicle sales. Before vacationing begins, prospective buyers seek out an upgrade to haul their family and their toys, and it often coincides with model year-end incentives. But 2022 is different than your typical year, and Memorial Day car sales events dealers are used to putting on aren’t likely to work the same. 

Vehicle inventory is meager, and mostly empty car lots are still a common sight. New and used car prices are nearly the highest they’ve ever been, and there’s minimal incentive spending coming from the manufacturers. There’s no such thing as blowout pricing for year-end models, and salespeople don’t have to chase leads for weeks to convert them to sales.

The idea of tire kickers walking the lot to pick out a new car on Memorial Day weekend now seems much more foreign than it did even a year ago. 

What, then, can dealers do for a unique and memorable event? These three ideas could give your store a bump in sales, with or without inventory, and keep your visibility among consumers in your area.

Host a community event

If your store happens to have more vehicles in for service daily than inventory on the new and used car lots, a vehicle sale doesn’t make sense. Instead of trying to piece together some semblance of a sale, why not gain publicity and trust in your neighborhood? Host a community block party or mini carnival that truly gets attention.

Rent bouncy castles and hire carnies for face painting and entertainment for a two- or three-day event, and bring in locals with the offer of a complimentary barbecue. Give people reasons to mull around, and put your staff in the middle of it. They can be pros ‘working the room’. The intention is to sell vehicles where you’re able but to sell the dealership as a place to go the next time people are in the market for a car or for service.

Have a factory order sale

There’s little reason to discount vehicles in today’s insane car market, but a Memorial Day sale has been hugely profitable for dealers in the past. If you don’t have cars on the ground – or only a few – make an event out of selling factory orders. For the weekend only, offer an over-cost sale for anyone who places a factory order. 

The deal should pique interest and clearly benefit the shopper. For example, offer any factory order for $1,000 over invoice with verifiable savings to the shopper. Not only are those deliveries captured for future months, but they’re sales you’ve taken away from other dealers who might get the same inventory in first.

Host a lucrative giveaway

If you’re lucky enough to have good inventory in place, it’s unlikely you’ll want to give away gross on a bunch of deals. Instead, consider a high-value giveaway that one lucky buyer will win. Perhaps it’s a check for $10,000 given away to one buyer over the weekend or even their vehicle purchase value up to a capped amount. Because it’s a giveaway for a high value over a short time, it feels less like a lottery than other giveaways with improved odds. Then, publicize the winner for some positive PR.

When the auto industry veers from the norm, creativity is all it takes to get back on track. Use these ideas or use them to inspire your own. Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching, so get started today.

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