Balloons may look fun and pretty, but really only serve to distract customers from the cars on display in the showroom. Make the cars the stars. Use them to create that desire to be inside them driving them. Its not as hard as you might think.

I’ve often walked into a dealership and wondered, who makes the call on what cars go in the showroom? The average person probably doesn’t ask this question as they walk into your dealership but as an Architect in the car business, it’s a question I am constantly asking myself. These are, understandably, exceptional times. New car inventory is low to non-existent so you put whatever you can in the showroom these days. Even with limited inventory options, how you present your display vehicles, matters. Merchandising in your showroom is more than just balloons.

Your Personal Auto Show

In our post pandemic world we are seeing that auto shows are as popular as ever.  Look at how each manufacturer presents their cars at the show. Rugged Pickups and SUVs on piles of rocks. Sports cars that make you feel like they are going 100 miles an hour. 

More often than not, as I enter a showroom, regardless of brand, I see new vehicles that are straight off the truck. These cars have no accessories. They’re white, silver or gold. I know instantly that the dealer is missing a big opportunity. Your brand’s boldest of colors are what should be on the showroom floor. Lava Orange or Electric Blue paint colors aren’t for everyone.  What those colors do, is get your customers looking at the product and placing themselves in it. If customers are sitting in your café or wandering about the showroom, why not give them something exciting and eye catching to look at? You may sell a lot of white and silver cars, but there is no emotional connection that comes from seeing that silver mid-level model in your showroom.

White and gray cars in a white and gray showroom. Monotone and uninspiring.

White and gray cars in a white and gray showroom. None with even a single accessory The whole picture is monochromatic and uninspiring. Subaru has spent millions of dollars to create lifestyle branding to attract customers. None of it is evident here.

Yellow Kia in Showroom

Vibrant colors not only brighten the showroom, they’re exciting and attract attention from both new car shoppers as well as existing customers. Photo: Phil Smith KIA, Lighthouse Point, Florida

Accessories are Key

Keeping the above in mind, there should also always be one accessorized vehicle on the showroom floor. For example, putting a well accessorized truck on your showroom floor fitted with a lift kit, aftermarket wheels, and all the other goodies, inspires your customers to upgrade. Maybe its for the new truck they’re about to buy. Maybe  it will inspire a visit to your parts department to inquire about some upgrades for the truck they already own. For those new customers who are shopping and may be new to the brand, seeing that fully loaded Silverado, Tundra or F150 lets them know they have some options to personalize their new ride.

Dark Grey Toyota Tundra with Running boards

This Toyota Tundra accessorized with running bars, a lift kit and a great looking wheel and tire package will OWN the showroom, and provide all sorts of motivation for customers to add upgrades to their vehicles.
Photo: Panama City Toyota, Panama City, Florida

There’s big money in accessories too. The SEMA 2021 Market Trends Report, states that the total US sales of specialty equipment from new car dealers in 2020 was 6.5 BILLION dollars.  Pickups, CUV’s and SUV’s taking the top three spots and 54% of the total sales volume. New car buyers want to individualize their new purchase.  Why wouldn’t you help them spend a bit more on their vehicle?

Its All in How it’s Presented

It’s safe to assume most everyone reading this has been in a discount clothing store.  These chains offer name brand clothing at a fraction of the cost. The stores are a sea of clothing racks. Not only is it hard to tell where the men’s clothes stop, and the women’s clothes begin, the places are typically pretty disheveled with merchandise in piles or on the floor. It is truly a mess.

By comparison, when you walk into a brand name store you find well thought out, organized displays. You move through the store experiencing one display after another. There is structure and order, thought given to how they are presenting their products, your display vehicle is no different. Putting thought and effort behind your showroom vehicle selections and how they are presented to the customer.

Merchandising in Your Showroom is More than just Balloons

Over the years we have worked with hundreds of dealers that have gone through their manufacturer’s image update. We’ve seen the manufacturers renderings which show what the dealership will look like at the end of the brand image upgrade.  The Subaru in the showroom with the kayak, the 4 Runner with the roof rack and mountain bikes on top.

Manufacturers spend millions of dollars researching the demographics of their buyers and create image programs that appeal to the target audiences.   All to create a desire within the car buyer to choose their brand.  We’ve seen these visions for the showroom, yet frequently once the showroom is built, there are just new cars sitting in the showroom. No surrounding lifestyle props, no unique rugged seating area, just the vehicle. Maybe with a cardboard car topper advertising / marketing piece, maybe a banner, or maybe just orange and black balloons that went up for Halloween and will stay up until it’s time to change them out to Christmas colors. As we’ve laid out in this blog, merchandising in your showroom is more than just balloons, so much more.

Classic Toyota Landcruiser in Showroom

Classic examples of the brand are a great attraction in showrooms. Customers associate them with brand durability and longevity. They also create a draw for brand enthusiasts to come and do business with you versus your competitor. Photo: Panama City Toyota, Panama City, Florida

Wrapping it Up

How does your showroom immerse the buyer in the ownership experience?  How does it fan their desire to own this vehicle? Take the time to stage your showroom vehicles, pick the vibrant colors, and install some accessories. create a unique truck area, EV area, outdoors lifestyle area. Partner with local businesses who could provide pieces to make your showroom cars come alive. Maybe consider sending a piece of your inventory over to their store for them to use in their displays as well. Take time to create an immersive experience. Not only will it improve the buying experience for the customer, it will encourage them to spend a bit more to accessorize their new vehicle as well.  Who doesn’t appreciate a nice bump to the bottom line?