kscarbel2 Posted June 11, 2016 Share Posted June 11, 2016 Automotive News / June 11, 2016 Charlie Watson was up late one night watching the old Burt Reynolds classic Smokey and the Bandit. His employer, Lebanon Ford in Ohio, was planning to screen the film for its performance customers, and Watson wanted to give it a preview. Watching Reynolds' character wheel his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am during wild chases took Watson back to a time when old-school muscle cars were powerful without a lot of added flash or technology. "Back in the day, it was just a man and his car," Watson said. "It had a big engine, it had tons of power and it was all fun. It wasn't about the fancy body kits, the heated seats and the touch screens and all this other craziness. It was just a lot of power and a lot of fun." That night, as he lay awake in bed, a thought struck him, an idea for a marketing promotion that would end up turning a small dealership in southwestern Ohio into a destination for performance enthusiasts around the country. The deal, announced in a Jan. 30 blog post, was simple: a base 2016 Mustang GT -- fitted with a Roush Phase 2 supercharger that gives its 5.0-liter V-8 727 hp -- for $39,995. Yes, including the car. "The idea came to me in the middle of the night after watching the movie," says Watson, Lebanon Ford's Roush Performance manager. "I sat down and started doing the math. I didn't believe it." He could hardly believe what happened next, either. News of the $39,995 deal went viral online. The online publication The Drive posted a story on May 9 detailing the offer. The news was quickly picked up that day by Yahoo and Road & Track. And now, Lebanon Ford, a dealership that was once happy getting 20 sales calls a day from its territory between Dayton and Cincinnati, isn't surprised to get 1,000 calls a day, and is shipping supercharged pony cars to buyers as far away as Florida and Texas. The deal has helped diversify Lebanon's clientele demographically as well. Before the promotion, Watson said the store's performance shop dealt mainly with retirement-age consumers looking at Shelby and Roush Stage 3-supercharged Mustangs in the $65,000 to $85,000 price range. The $39,995 offer has widened the net considerably by bringing in clients in their mid-20s. The store is selling around three to five 727-hp Mustangs per day. Watson said the store had to discount the vehicle and labor to get the package under $40,000. The deal without the price cuts, he said, would've cost about $44,000. Shipping, title and license fees are extra. "The fact we can build this into the car and they can leave with one affordable car payment at top-tier rates is just the perfect storm to get these people to buy something they never would've been able to buy," Watson said. He said Lebanon Ford has had to work closely with Ford and Roush Performance on parts allocations to make sure it can keep up with demand. The store is also selling Mustang GTs with Roush Phase 1 superchargers, which churn out 670 hp, for the same price. The sales mix is around 60/40 in favor of the Phase 2 package. Watson, who credits store owner Lisa Cryder for supporting the idea, said the promotion has resonated because there's a contingent out there that is still drawn to the idea of powerful vehicles in more subtle wrappings. Justin Schroeder, vice president of product for Roush Performance, said he's never seen a store garner so much attention as quickly as Lebanon Ford did. The firestorm trickled over to Roush's internal sales team, which took a "bunch" of calls even though the company had nothing to do with the offer, Schroeder said. "Lebanon did some nice positioning to get that under the $40,000 target," Schroeder said. And Lebanon Ford has had to do some repositioning since. When the blog about the promotion was posted, the store was getting about seven to eight calls each day about it -- a "phenomenal" number, Watson said, but manageable. But within three weeks, the blog post had drawn 280,000 impressions. The onslaught of calls began last month, which forced the store to bring in more bodies to staff an internal call center. The store also enlisted an outside call center to assist. Watson said the promotion had been slated to last one month, but now the end date is undecided. The Mustang GTs are selling at such a consistent clip that the store can't keep track of how many units it has moved so far. "We keep trying to get the number," Phil Sies, Lebanon Ford's marketing manager, told Automotive News, adding: "We know we sold three this day and five this day. Then everybody gets blown away [and] nobody ever counts them up. We keep joking we need to count them, but everybody keeps selling." Watson said the Mustang GT deal isn't the most profitable promotion the store has ever done, but it's helping the dealership develop a national following. "We had a guy drive 16 hours from Fort Worth, Texas. When he's picking up his car, he shook my hand and said, "Man, you made my dream come true,'" Watson recalled. "At that second, that's when we knew we were on to something big here." Photo gallery - http://www.autonews.com/article/20160611/RETAIL03/306139995/bold-bet-on-a-727-hp-mustang Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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