Auto Dealers Market Smart with Outdoor LED Signs

Are auto dealers on to something? Consider that auto dealerships are commonly situated in high traffic areas, and even more obvious, they sell cars to people who drive cars. It’s a perfect equation: traffic + auto marketing = auto sales.

LED Sign at Bob Ruth Ford Bob Ruth Ford in Dillsburg, Pa. installed a Watchfire W-series 19mm LED sign and they are a just one of many examples of how dealerships are using their LED signs and the impact they have seen. “Our Watchfire LED sign allows us to showcase our daily, weekly and monthly specials, highlight our community activity and has increased our floor traffic,” explained Internet Manager Charlie Lyter.

New and used auto dealerships, like Bob Ruth Ford, have discovered that unlike other traditional advertising campaigns that can take weeks, if not months to produce and schedule, while an on-premise digital sign can create messages within a matter of minutes and display numerous messages throughout the day. Bill Cole Automall in Bluefield, W.Va. reported they use their Watchfire XVS 19mm LED sign “like a TV commercial,” according to Director of Marketing Mark Warner. He believes the sign is an important marketing tool because it allows the dealership to mirror sales events they advertise on TV. The dealership’s graphics department produces high-resolution video and animation. “We keep it updated so our customers feel like they are always seeing something new – they never see the same thing twice,” said Warner.

The flexibility of LED sign advertising offers a significant advantage to dealerships amid the erosion of traditional advertising outlets. TV commercials are being seen by fewer and fewer people with the growing popularity of DVR and services like Netflix. Radio has suffered a similar fate with the popularity of subscription radio services and mobile devices. Newspapers have struggled to stay afloat, reducing publication frequency and weathering the decline of circulation. Some dealerships, like Mike Pruitt Honda in Akron, Ohio, report they have actually reduced their advertising budget for other mediums since installing their Watchfire XVS 19mm LED sign.

The numbers don’t lie. LED signs simply deliver a significantly lower cost per thousand impressions, or CPM. This measurement of an ad’s cost-effectiveness, calculated by dividing the cost of the advertisement by the number of people who will see it, is important for understanding an advertisement’s potential return on investment.

Bill Alexander Ford in Yuma, Az. is another example of a dealership that has seen an increase in traffic after installing a Watchfire LED sign. They report frequently having customers walk into their dealership to ask about promotions that they have seen on their sign. Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Fritz, reported, “The sign is easy to use, and it’s a good way to announce different promotions. Overall, it adds value to our whole advertising program. There’s no question in my mind — our Watchfire sign purchase was definitely money well spent.”

Some dealerships even find that upgrading to an energy-efficient LED sign can help them save money on operating costs. Old bulb signs are notoriously expensive to run. High quality LED signs, like those offered by Watchfire, can provide significant savings for customers looking to upgrade, further improving their bottom line. Bill Cole Automall not only saw a significant decrease in operating costs, but also received a $42,000 rebate from Appalachian Electric Power for upgrading to a high efficiency Watchfire LED sign. “Our Watchfire sign is larger than our previous sign and costs $600 less a month to operate. We have a lot more control over the messaging, and it’s very easy to use,” explained Controller Eleanor Wescott.

Long-Lewis Ford Lincoln’s two dealerships in Russellville, Ala. and Florence, Ala. have found they can further increase the return on investment of their Watchfire XVS 19mm LED signs by using them to advertise high-margin services the dealership offers. “We advertise cars, the rental car department, repair shop and the café,” said Customer & Employee Relations Manager Tricia Lane. The flexibility of LED sign advertising and the ability to display multiple messages throughout the day offers a significant opportunity to dealerships to advertise services and offers that customers may be unaware of like service department specials, customer loyalty programs, special financing opportunities and even to advertise specific vehicles. It is a strategy that has also worked well for Mike Pruitt Honda. Owner Mike Pruitt reported, “It seems any used vehicle we put up there gets sold.”

Before you purchase an LED sign, make sure you’ve asked the right questions – what kind of warranty does the manufacturer offer, what service can they provide, when is their service department available (especially if they are overseas), how long will it take to have repair parts shipped? An LED sign is only a powerful advertising tool if it works properly. A sign with persistent problems or one that doesn’t look good will leave your customers with a negative impression. And that can hurt your business instead of helping it. So before you buy, ask yourself what a lower price tag may cost you.

Learn more about how auto dealers are using outdoor digital signage in this free guide.


Learn how an LED sign can help increase traffic at your dealership.