The End of an Era
“How do you close a well-known family business in a way that when the owner walks into the local pub, people don’t whisper to themselves . . . “Didn’t they go broke”?”
In our society, when businesses fail and the owners are rendered bankrupt, there is undeniable stigma. It is a stain of shame.
So, what do you do when a business has simply decided to call it day for a host of business and lifestyle decisions, but they have stock to clear, and are keen to avoid the inaccurate stigma?
The Claridge family had decided after 87 years in the retail automotive business that they no longer enjoyed the grind of the business and when presented with an offer from a large South Australian automotive group to purchase their dealership buildings and the land they sat upon, it was the right time to move on to the next chapter of the business and personal lives.
Well, there were a few.
Firstly, Claridge Holden had 37 demonstrator vehicles and 64 used cars which needed to be sold within 6 weeks before they handed the keys to dealership over to the new owners.
Quite literally, they had millions of dollars’ worth of stock to clear by December 16. From December 17, where would they house those cars? How would they find buyers for them?
The second challenge was, how to we close the business and accurately communicate they we have left on our terms? Who wants the stigma of people thinking you having gone broke – and when you haven’t??
The Creative Message
We developed a creative campaign – “The Final Lap”.
Imagine for a moment, a race car driver, maybe Peter Brock, waving to the crowd on the victory lap at Bathurst.
For Claridge Holden, they too, were waving goodbye to their customers, their staff, their suppliers, their extensive network of business relationships with Holden and other allied industry groups. They had completed their final lap, and they were going out on their own terms.
But, we still needed to clear those 37 demonstrator vehicles and 64 used cars by December 16.
The Creative Execution
To sell the combined 101 cars in the 6 weeks we had, we needed to focus on the key selling areas for any retail business, car dealerships included, and so we executed the following communications:
- A 4 page glossy stock clearance brochure designed, printed and inserted into the letterbox of all the residents within a 5km radius around the business
- Email Marketing to their email customer database
- An MMS visual message to the mobile phones of the customer database because in car dealerships as with most retail businesses, it is much easier to sell another product to a customer who has already bought from your business, than it is to win over a new customer
- A paid Facebook campaign to spread the message on social media that there were great bargains to be had, but also to control the message so that people on social media didn’t drive the discussion; and
- A series of press ads in the Saturday Advertiser’s Carsguide to target buyers in the market now.
Claridge Holden managed to work their way through all their stock and have a seamless run to their 16 December closing date.
The message about the closure, and retirement from the retail automotive business, was controlled and driven by the business on its own terms.
What Did the Client Have to Say?
“We were scratching our heads about what to do about the remaining stock, but we had to clear it, but we didn’t want people thinking we had gone broke. The guys at Catalyst did a great job in creating a campaign which had enough urgency to clear the stock, but also communicating that we were going out on our own terms, and this was very important to us”.
– Mike Claridge, Managing Director
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