The economy seems to be in recovery, but it’s not exactly good. Many are still out of work, and most people are still being very careful with their money. A lot of car dealerships are experiencing losses. Many have had to close their doors, and others have had to fire a lot of their staff members and run skeleton crews in hopes that they’ll stay in business until times are better.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. There are a few things that you can do to stay afloat and get more customers, even in bad economic times. After all, people still need their cars.

Get Some Fresh Eyes on Your Business

Talk to friends of friends. Invite strangers. Ask your husband or wife. Have these people come in and act like secret shoppers at your dealership. Once they’ve gotten a feel for your showroom, your salespeople, and your service, invite them to give you feedback.

Really listen to what they have to say about your dealership. Some of their comments may not be that glowing, but you need to hear them. You need to know what isn’t working even more than you need to know about what does work.

And don’t be afraid to call an outside consultant. While the opinions of potential customers are important, these people are trained professionals who can give you key advice about the changes you need to make in your organization.

Appreciate Your Customers

Never underestimate the power of free food and entertainment. Pick a sunny Saturday or Sunday and get to grilling! Hot dogs and hamburgers are inexpensive, and so are balloons for the kids. If you set up a fun environment with some free food and soft drinks, you’ll get a lot more people on your lot than you would have on any other weekend, especially a weekend with nice weather.

Those are ordinarily the days that most of your potential clientele will be out in the park with their families. Instead, lure them into your dealership. They’ll see your layout, your friendly staff and great customer service. Even if they don’t buy that day, they’ll think of you when they’re shopping next time.

Take the Pressure Off

Poor sales are not necessarily the fault of your salespeople. The economy is unstable. People are saving money. If you lead with the carrot instead of the whip (with incentives rather than the threat of punishment), your staff will work a lot harder for you.