Exterior Dealership Maintenance – the Silver Lining of These Times

Weather beaten exteriors can really make a building start to look poorly maintained
Years of harsh sun and tropical rain have left this façade in need of a good cleaning

It’s no secret, dealership inventories have never been lower.  Every dealership is feeling it. But there’s a silver lining.  This is the perfect time to tackle all those long postponed exterior dealership maintenance projects. These are the small projects that need to get done around the dealership, but there’s never time. Or, moving inventory to create space takes time and is a massive hassle or inconvenience.  

It’s time to grab your iPad and head out for a walk around the property.  Don’t just walk the front of house, walk the whole property.  Just because your customers aren’t supposed to be back there doesn’t mean they don’t see it. Try to look at things through the eyes of your customer.  Remember if things are unsightly, dirty, or unkept, your customer absolutely sees them.   Here’s our shortlist:

Pressure Washing and Painting

Your lot staff is out there every week keeping your inventory shiny and saleable. But when was the last time your building got a bath?  No, last week’s heavy rain doesn’t count. Have you really stopped and looked at your building? Are there black rainwater streaks down the façade? Are there small weeds growing up in the corners?  Is the building just starting to look a bit dingy? Maybe it’s time to have a pressure washing company come in and give the place a good scrubbing.  It’s amazing how much that can improve the overall look of the facility. 

After the pressure wash, it’s good to have a walk around and see if there are any areas that need attention, like paint. Paint doesn’t last forever, on cars or on buildings.  Whether its harsh northern winters, or blazing southern sun, paint breaks down. If you can touch a painted wall and end up with chalky residue on your hand, it’s time for paint.  And speaking of paint, pay attention to any safety bollards around your store.  Customers see scratched and marked bollards, and it conveys the wrong message.  If they’re showing some scars, a quick coat of paint cleans them up and makes them look new. The same can be said for exterior hand railings.

Asphalt Repair, Sealcoating and Striping

No one likes an empty lot.  That said, there couldn’t be a better time ever to address all that asphalt.  Are there low spots that turn into a lake with every rainstorm?  Has the freeze /thaw cycle of your climate created some broken up spots of potholes? Now is the time to address those as part of an exterior dealership maintenance plan.

Good exterior dealership maintenance will repair this pothole which could injure customers and employees as well as damage cars.
Whether its summer heat or winter freezing weather is tough on parking lots. Potholes like this can cause injury to your customers or staff. Get them looked after immediately.

It’s also the perfect time to consider sealcoating and restriping of your lot. Unfortunately, the situation is what it is with inventory, but it will never be this easy again. Weather really abuses the asphalt, leaching out the oils and breaking it down. Cars in for service which have leaked fluids in the service parking area have created unsightly spots. Clearly delineated no parking areas and directional arrows have pretty much faded into non-existence. Having the lot seal coated will extend the life of the asphalt and give everything a much cleaner appearance. Freshly striped and painted areas will make everything crisp and clearly identifiable.

Curbing

A curb that is little more than chunks of broken concrete from being run over too many times
Years of vehicles taking this corner a little too tight have resulted in this. What is it telling your customers about how the facility is cared for? Addressing these sorts of issues is part of a well executed exterior dealership maintenance plan.

We see this all the time.  It’s usually on island corners.  Years of people taking the corner too tight or delivery trucks and or car carriers not being able to make the corner without hopping a tire over the curb.  As a result curbs really take a beating.  They look terrible.  It’s time to get them repaired.  If they’re just scuffed up, have them painted while you’re doing the sealcoat and striping.

Landscaping and Irrigation

What’s the state of the greenery around the dealership?  Are trees overgrown?  Are there dead areas because the irrigation system isn’t working right? Are garden beds getting overgrown with weeds? These issues can be easily addressed.    Talk to your landscaper about doing a “wet test” of your irrigation system. They can manually turn on the system and you can walk the facility with them to address any issues with equipment or water coverage.   Typically, your landscaping tells the biggest story about the state of your dealership to a visiting customer.  If it’s all in good shape they may not notice.  If its dying, overgrown or generally not presenting well, they most certainly will.

An island of dead grass at a dealership lot because the sprinkler head isnt working.
Never mind the destroyed curbing, and a lot in need of sealcoat, there’s a sprinkler head below that pink flag which hasnt been doing its job for a while. The grass is long dead.

Exterior Facility Lighting

This is the last topic, but probably the most important with respect to exterior dealership maintenance.  Lighting not only shows off your inventory to the world passing by each evening, but it’s also part of the security of your store through the overnight hours.  What is the state of your facility lighting? When was the last time you stopped and had a look at it?  Are there lights out around the building? What is the condition of the light poles and lights around the lot?  Are they all functioning properly and not flickering or going on and off randomly?  Maybe its time to consider an LED upgrade.   

If you haven’t looked at LED for your facility lighting, now’s the time.  Metal halide lights degrade over time.  In only 8-12000 hours (approximately 2 years) total illumination can be reduced by up to 25%!  Just look at this before and after video provided by Visionaire Lighting.  Although the up-front investment might be a bit higher than metal halide, the return on your investment is real.  

LED lighting not only uses less electricity, it’s all “instant on” meaning it doesn’t take minutes to warm up.  Visionaire Lighting said “It’s not just the reduced wattage that’s going to save dealers money. The fixtures can now be programmed into zones and time schedules, as well as incorporate motion sensors. Lighting can be customized for intensity. (Brightness can fluctuate based on the times in the evening when drive by traffic is at its peak.) All of this programmability will only reduce a dealer’s electricity bill even further.” 

Just this week NADA called out in their blog switching to LED lighting as one of the 5 most effective ways to reduce energy consumption. You can read more here: 5 Most Cost-Effective Best Practices for Reducing Dealership Energy Use – NADA

Wrapping it up

To use the well worn phrase.. these are unprecedented times.  But, as Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”  With lots this empty, now is the time for action on exterior dealership maintenance. Take the opportunity to step into your customers shoes and walk around and address all the small things that are taking the shine off your facility.  If you want to take a deeper dive on any of these topics, or if you’re interested in having ID Automotive come and do facility audit for you.  Just click here.