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Key Idea: Target to Maximize Marketing

General manager Joe Posby keeps the direct mail flowing to keep customers coming in the door.

Key Question:


Everything at Rodgers Chevrolet is done by the numbers. Pamela has an MBA in Finance and she wants to measure everything including every dollar they spend on marketing. They know that their customers are and will in the future be people who live within a 15-mile radius of the dealership. With this knowledge, they hone in on that market.

Q: Why is target marketing hard for many very small business owners?

A: It takes discipline. With today's technology, it can be done "in-house" but Joe prefers to out source the list maintenance and mailing. At least half of all the owners we have studied here use target marketing in some way because it is the most cost-effective way to reach customers.

What does Joe include in every direct mail piece he designs?

A: An offer that will bring people into the dealership. The one I saw the day I was there was an offer for a free grill to anyone who just stops by. The potential customer brings the mail piece in and exchanges it for the free grill. Joe is confident that his team of sales and service people will handle every person who walks in with style and grace.

Sales people know that Rodgers is about service and that means not hard-selling every person who come in the door. Joe is also confident that he has a great product and he knows that so many people love cars, when they come to get the free grill, they may just drive home in something new.

Think about it

How do you spend your marketing dollars today? Could you be better at targeting your efforts? Do you know where you customers are and how to reach them?

Clip from: Rodgers Chevrolet - Meet Pamela Rodgers!

Woodhaven, Michigan:  In a quiet suburb just south of Detroit, we go inside an American icon -- the car dealership -- to witness a "can-do" attitude in action. We meet a woman whose love affair with the car is as real and palpable as any romance going. And at this place where GM is sold, driving people to act upon that passion is her business.

Pamela Rodgers is the owner of Rodgers Chevrolet.  We learn that key to her repeat business success is service. From her originally designed, colorful waiting area featuring a speedway theme to a team of highly skilled service advisers, Rodgers Chevrolet is a company that never misfires when it comes to building long-term relationships with customers. This is a team that's as well trained in the mechanics of human dynamics as they are the electronics of today's automobile engine. Keeping that relationship running smoothly is a matter of individualized communications where customer satisfaction is not an optional service.

Pamela's story is all the more unique in that she is one of the few women in the world to own a dealership in her own right. It wasn't passed on to her by her father or a husband, and she took a failing location and turned it around.

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Rodgers Chevrolet

Pamela Rodgers, CEO

23755 Allen Road
Woodhaven, MI 48183

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1991

Target to Maximize Marketing

HATTIE: Pam credits her General Manager Joe Posby for much of the success.

HATTIE: What does it take to make a car dealership work?

JOE POSBY: It's a lot of different variables to that. One of the biggest variables is people – that is primary. Product is obvious and then marketing. There are a number of things that have to be done. With an automobile dealership, we do know one thing. We will sell, primarily, all of our new and pre-owned cars within a 15 mile radius of the dealership. We know that we will bring some people in from further away, but predominately that's my market – 15 miles away.

HATTIE: Is that because when I come for service I don't want to have to drive?

JOE: Most people will either buy from where they live or where they work. Again, within 15 miles of the dealership. So that's where I primarily will put all my efforts in marketing, within 15 miles. A lot of people have different ways of looking at it. I look at marketing much like a bulls eye on a target, I am the centerpiece – I am the epicenter. And then I start looking at rings that go out from there. As we get bigger, I may extend my rings, I may look to go further in my marketplace. But predominately, I am going to start in the center. That's what we did 5 years ago and it has worked for us. We spend in direct mail marketing – that is one medium we use -- probably 50%. 50% there – I may spend 20% on newspaper. I have to be there, I want to be there. I want to have the visibility. And we may spend 20% in other mediums, other sponsorships.

HATTIE: I was going to ask, " What about local community involvement?" Are you a member of the chamber? The Kiwanis Club?

JOE: I am not – but Pam is.

HATTIE: Pam is – so does that help – is it just her being a member or do you all contribute to an event? JOE: Being involved in the civic functions of a local neighborhood is key. You have to be known in the area. It doesn't do me any good to be known in Ohio if I am up in Michigan. It doesn't do me any good to be known in Illinois, if I am in Michigan. I want to be known in my local area. I want to be top of mind when somebody wants to buy a car.

HATTIE: Okay, so now let's talk about your 50% expenditure on direct pieces that you create. And you told me that you do two different kinds.

JOE: We do targeted mailing. On a monthly basis, we do it every single week. We do between 7,500 pieces to 10,000 pieces a week, depending on the week and if there is holidays involved. And we do it a number of different ways. A direct mail piece will get right to my target. I can stay within 5 miles, 10 miles, 12 miles, 15 miles – I can keep going to the same areas – I can vary it if I want to. I can go to every household if I want to – I can go to people who just own Chevrolets. 5 or 10 years from now we are going to be at least – well in 5 years we are going to be double our production we are right now. That I know for sure. Last year we ended up very high on the scale and we are not at the top of the pentacle, but we are going to be there.

BEN HEER: It is hard to believe, coming from Flat Rock over to here – we have just quadrupled - really, and we just continue to grow.

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