The Chevrolet Volt had a rough 2011. Though the hybrid electric vehicle and its so-called “battery fires” have been exonerated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chevrolet Volt sales seemingly took a hit. General Motors pulled back on the Volt’s 2011 sales goal and announced plans to idle production of the hatchback at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant. GM has since rescinded those plans, but the automaker is still left with the task of selling the near $40,000 Chevrolet Volt not only to a recession-weary public, but against Chevrolet’s other fuel-efficient vehicles like the less expensive Chevrolet Cruze.
The Serra Chevrolet dealership would be a good starting point for some ideas. Located in Southfield, Michigan, the dealership sells a jaw-dropping twenty-five Chevrolet Volts a month. Compare that to the other 3,000 Chevrolet dealerships nationwide who sell a Volt per month. Or every few months.
So what’s Serra’s secret? Good old customer service…and a windmill.
Yup. Serra built two large windmills behind the dealership. Not only do they provide 15-percent of its power, but they serve to buttress the Chevrolet Volt’s “green” image, too.
Customer service, though, ultimately sells the hybrid. Greg Brown, general manager at Serra, makes sure his salesforce is very familiar with the Volt. Says Brown, “We typically spend 45 minutes on each delivery of a Volt, far more than for other cars. And we also encourage people to come back with any questions. It’s kind of like selling an iPhone.”
Brown and his sales team also listen to potential buyers to make sure the Chevrolet Volt is actually a viable vehicle for their needs instead of the typical “it’s a hybrid/EV” sales pitch. They’ll emphasize, for example, the Volt’s numerous advantages as a hatchback. Or that parents won’t have to hand out as much gas money for their teen drivers.
Serra has also partnered with Detroit Edison. The local utility company helps Chevy Volt owners when installing the Volt’s charger at their homes.
But probably one of the best techniques used by Serra is simple information. The finance-and-insurance representative at the car dealership shows potential buyers an Excel spreadsheet illustrating monthly fuel costs. The sheet not only shows how much the Volt consumes, but how much other Chevy vehicles sold by Serra consume as well.
“A payment on a Volt might be $150 more a month,” says Brown. “But we can show them that they’d be saving $150 or $200 a month in gas with a Volt, so it might make sense for them.”
Automotive.com’s take: Brown says Serra likes to keep multiple Chevrolet Volts on the showroom floor to emphasize it’s a mainstream vehicle, which helps sell it potential buyers. The dealership also offers high lease rates on the Volt. What other techniques do you think will help sell the Chevrolet Volt to the public?