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Fall in Love a North Carolina Pumpkin Patch

Family in pumpkin patch

October is here, and that doesn’t just mean Halloween is on the way, it means it’s fall and time to pay a visit to the local pumpkin patches. Not only are you going to find gorgeous fields of giant pumpkins at these local farms around North Carolina, but you’re bound to have loads of family fun along the way. With many offering a range of activities from corn mazes to bounce houses, you’re sure to create family memories that will last a lifetime.

Take a look at these three great pumpkin patches in the North Carolina area:

Johnny Wilson Farm

With 78 acres, this family-owned farm has a pumpkin patch you can visit from September 29 until November 3 to pick out the pumpkin that’s perfect for you. But there’s so much more than pumpkins at this pumpkin patch – there are countless activities for the whole family. From petting calves, pigs, goats, and donkeys to exploring the 3-acre corn maze and participating in a plastic duck race, this place is guaranteed fun and entertainment for hours.

Location: 5163 Precious Memories Lane, Granite Falls, NC

 

Red Wolf Farm

This farm in Maiden, NC spreads 123-acres, which include beautiful hills, a forest, and even a large pond. While you can browse through their large field of pumpkins, you and the family also have the opportunity to go on a mile-long hayride, find your way through a professionally-designed corn maze, test your skills on an obstacle course, or visit the animals on the farm. With so much to do at Red Wolf Farm, this place should definitely earn a spot on your must-see list this October.

Location: 1900 HW Farm Road, Maiden, NC

 

Shelby Corn Maze

Pick your favorite pumpkin, get lost in a corn maze, take a hayride, or play some old-fashioned checkers. Your options for some kid-friendly fun are just about endless when you visit the Shelby Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch. Opening September 22 for the fall season, you’ll find loads of family entertainment and outdoor fun. Plus, this year they even have a giant “jumping pillow” where you can kick off your shoes and have a blast jumping around. But before you go, you should know that every Friday and Saturday in October, spooky things begin to happen in the corn maze after dark, but if you think you can handle it, we can assure you, it’s going to be a night of fun!

Location: 120 Broadway Dr, Shelby, NC

 

Don’t let the season pass you by without venturing out to these great pumpkin patches around North Carolina! One visit, and we know this will immediately become your new favorite family tradition.

Equity Mine Older Vehicles in Your Service Lane

older cars

Americans Are Keeping Their Cars Longer and Longer

Americans’ concern about the state of the U.S. economy is at its lowest level on record, according to a new survey that’s been tracking the issue for decades. Gallup research this month found just 12 percent of Americans said an issue related to the economy is the most important problem facing the country. In August, the figure was 17 percent.

Despite a robust economy, increased consumer spending, and three consecutive years in which annual auto sales topped 17 million, Americans are continuing to keep decade-old vehicles running–and they’re only getting older.

What does this mean at your dealership?

Equity Mine Older Service Lane Vehicles

The age of light-duty vehicles in the United States rose 13 percent to an average of 10.5 years, according to a 2017 survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation. While this number is off the average of 11.6 years cited by research firm IHS in 2016, all signs point to America’s fleet – and its population of more than 223 million licensed drivers – growing older.

Pickup trucks, in particular, are staying on for longer. The average pickup was 13.6 years old in 2017 as compared to 11.2 in 2009. Vans jumped to 10.9 years (up 24 percent), SUVs rose to 8.5 years (up 20 percent), and cars’ average age increased to 10.3 years (up 8 percent).

Overall, the aging of the vehicle fleet suggests many households have delayed purchasing a new vehicle or have instead purchased a used vehicle. Lower-income households were most likely to hold on to older cars. On average, those reporting annual incomes of less than $25,000 drove 13-year-old cars, while those with incomes above $100,000 had nine-year-old cars.

Older vehicles, especially those bought new and driven by the Baby Boomer generation, are usually better-taken care of, have fewer miles and are more prone to visit your service department over local repair shops.

The great thing about older vehicles as equity targets is that the owner knows it’s not going to run forever. Plus, with the massive industry shift to SUV’s, you now have an opportunity to offer customers a real change from their current vehicle.

If a customer has chosen to hang on to their current vehicle, then they probably do it for cost saving, or they really like the vehicle.  Either way, getting them physically into a new vehicle with all its features and benefits is the first step to a sale.

Leasing may be an option for these customers. Leasing avoids the sticker shock, and the vehicle trade-in could cover all of the upfront transactional costs.

How PV Mines Older Vehicles

Prospect Vision has the capability to search back 15 years.  This can help the dealer source pre-owned vehicles. Plus, even if the person owned the car for 10 years, we can still show the old loan payment. This historical data can be used to show estimate trade and estimate terms for a newer vehicle based on the previous payment range. Most people are comfortable in a certain payment range.

So, there you go. Yes, customers are keeping their cars longer, but the good news is that they’re keeping the cars they bought from you longer. Sooner than later, they are going to need a new vehicle, and by maintaining diligence in the service lane you’ll be there when they do.

Celebrate National Day of Play with this Kiwanis Park Event

Park day

Now that school is back in session, more than ever, you know the kids are ready for an entire day of play! That’s why it’s essential that you don’t miss out on the National Day of Play at Kiwanis Park on Saturday, September 15 from 11 am to 2 pm. Presented by the Hickory Parks and Recreation Department, this is one event that is sure to be an absolute blast for the entire family. On this National Day of Play, the kiddos will be able to do just that – play! But that’s not all, along with exciting games and activities, there will be a touch-a-truck, trackless train, arts and crafts, and, of course, food for every appetite.

Get Ready for Endless Family Fun at the Kiwanis Park in Hickory, NC

While National Day of Play is scheduled to go from 11 am until 2 pm, you and the family can stick around afterward for even more playtime at Kiwanis Park. Now including the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground and a splash pad, you can let the children get wet and wild while cooling off. This splash pad first opened in July of 2016 thanks to the City of Hickory, the Hickory Kiwanis Club, and the Western Catawba County Kiwanis Club, and ever since, it has been a huge hit with the entire community. With a non-slip surface, your kids can play around, get sprayed, dive under streams of water, run through the mist, and simply have a great time splashing around in the water.

Along with a splash pad for everlasting fun, there are also countless other activities with amenities like a tennis court, basketball court, baseball fields, horseshoe pits, and even a walking trail. Parents, of course, appreciate the onsite picnic tables and convenient bathrooms. Plus, you’ll be glad to know that the park is tailored to children with special needs.

Don’t Miss the National Day of Play at Kiwanis Park

While being held at the Kiwanis Park Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground located at 805 6th Street SE, Hickory, NC, it’s perfectly convenient for families all around the Hickory area.  This family-friendly event will take place rain or shine, so be sure to get to the National Day of Play no matter what the weather holds. You can be sure this will be an event your family will be talking about for days to come.

Keeping Millennial Customers Coming Back

Millennial customers

Attracting millennial customers to your dealership is critical to your continued business success. The increasing purchasing power of this generation, plus their life stage as young adults and young parents, will make them just as valuable a demographic as Baby Boomers have already been to your business. But once you’ve got those millennial shoppers in the door, how can you keep them coming back?

Be consistent

Millennials are expecting a seamless transition. They switch from looking at your website on a smartphone or tablet to looking at it on a desktop to eventually walking into your dealership. If your store is having an Independence Day sale, you better make sure that message is conveyed on your website. And it goes both ways: If your website says you have a particular vehicle, you better make sure that vehicle is shown prominently when they show up at your store. Disappointing or frustrating millennial customers is the surest way to lose their business. Plus, millennials aren’t going to be as forgiving if it’s not an easy transition from digital to in-person. With the power and savviness they possess with social media, you can bet they’ll be telling their friends and the rest of the world.

Offer expertise

How many times has a customer walked into your store and you quickly ascertained they know more about the vehicle than your salespeople? You can count on millennial shoppers showing up with a world of information at their fingertips. When they visit your store, they expect your sales team to be just as knowledgeable. Here’s a sobering number: 40 percent of millennials say that “deep product knowledge” is important to them when visiting a store, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers reports. That means you and your staff need to be ready for them. Your employees should be able to answer in-depth questions about products, provide recommendations and suggest complementary upgrades.

Reward followers

Millennials won’t follow your store on social media just because they think you’re cool. Just like you when you go shopping, they expect to get something out of the relationship. Exclusive access to deals, discounts or information are key reasons millennials follow dealers on social media. When millennial shoppers manage to find their way to your dealership, that’s when you can tell them by word of mouth or signage to follow you on social media by explaining the rewards they’ll get. Millennials may be different from past generations when it comes to shopping habits, but one thing still holds true no matter the shopper. We all want to feel wanted and rewarded for our loyalty!

Related reading: Higher Customer Retention Means Higher Profits!

Use mail

If you want millennials to become loyal retail customers, you’ve got to offer those personalized, targeted promotions and discounts. That means offers sent by email or mailed to their homes can often be the most effective promotional tool for this age group. In this age of fast-is-better technology, sometimes the best way to grab the attention of millennials is to drop an offer in the mail.

Text them

Why should a dealership’s service advisor, salesperson or your BDC text? A dealership must put themselves in their client’s shoes. A doctor can text between patients, a plumber can text while on a job, and a lawyer can text while in a meeting. The data supports this as texts are replied to, on average, within 4 minutes. The expectation for a return call to a voicemail is the same day and the expectation for an email is 24 hours. Millennials don’t talk … they text!

Conclusion

Adjusting your customer retention methods to focus on millennials is smart. Not only is this generation growing in influence, they’re influencing how their parents shop as well.

Free Telescope Night at the Lucile Miller Observatory

Telescope night

Come out to the Lucile Miller Observatory on Friday, August 17 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a beautiful night of stargazing. Though donations are appreciated, this is even free and open to the public, meaning you don’t need any reservations – all you have to do is show up to enjoy this free-of-charge event. If it rains, no worries! There are lots of indoor activities the whole family can enjoy, along with informal indoor presentations during every observatory event. Located at 515 North C Avenue in Maiden, NC, the Lucile Miller Observatory is conveniently situated for residents all around Hickory, NC.

About the Lucile Miller Observatory

This local astronomical observatory is located inside Maiden High School and is owned and operated by the Catawba Valley Astronomy Club. This observatory consists of a wheelchair-accessible classroom and observing pad that can hold up to 40 people. Of course, there are some large scopes at this observatory you can use, though you can also bring your own telescope, and the staff here will help you learn how to use it. That way, you can stargaze by yourself at home when the observatory isn’t open to the public. These guys can teach you all about stargazing and give you tips to truly take your hobby to the next level.

Find the Perfect Night to Stargaze in Maiden, NC

Some nights are going to be better to stargaze then others due to weather conditions, so it might be helpful to take a look at the Lucile Miller Observatory Clear Sky Chart to find the perfect night to enjoy the sky. This chart is basically an astronomer’s forecast that tells you when the sky is going to be cloudy and when it’s going to clear up to be just right for using your telescope. Just look at the chart, pay attention to the row labeled “sky conditions,” and the columns of blue blocks are going to tell you whether you should get out your scope or wait another night.

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Don’t Miss This Free Night of Stargazing

As we mentioned, this is a free event. However, the Lucile Miller Observatory doesn’t receive funding from the school system, so we do encourage you to make a donation you feel comfortable with, if possible. This is a great opportunity for the whole family to spend quality time together while learning more about our magnificent planet and experiencing all its beauty.

Higher Customer Retention Means Higher Profits!

Customer retention diagram

We’ve all heard it a hundred times: “Acquiring a new customer can cost 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing customer.” And yet, we still can’t seem to find a few dollars each month to spend on customer relationship marketing.

Customer Retention Figures

Let’s set the stage for the cost of customer acquisition versus customer retention.

  • The cost of customer acquisition versus customer retention could reach as high as 700 percent*
  • Over a 5-year period, customer natural attrition rates could reach as high as 50 percent
  • Businesses which boosted customer retention rates by as little as 5 percent saw increases in their profits ranging from 5 percent to a whopping 95 percent

Benefits of Marketing to Current Customers

Now I think we can all agree there’s some opportunity here to refocus more on our existing customers, rather than chasing down new ones. By simply automating the process of service lane marketing, content marketing, email marketing and social media marketing, you’ll have huge success:

  • Staying in touch with your current customer base
  • Reminding your customers of upcoming events and seasonal tips
  • Maintaining a professional appearance all the way to the inbox
  • Taking advantage of opportunities to reach out to clients you have not talked to in years; you have new makes and new models to offer them
  • Get a few more referrals sent your way

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Making Equity Mining Seamless

This is why service lane marketing is vital. Think about your regular service customers. They are more profitable, more loyal and of greater lifetime value to the dealership. Service lane marketing attracts the richest mix of loyal customers. Many dealers are wasting marketing dollars on disloyal customers who will never stick around long enough to pay back their acquisition investment.

Many dealers have been turned off to equity mining because they may have had inadequate training, didn’t use it or had improper processes in place at the dealership. Others have invested in poor software where the numbers didn’t add up and lost confidence with their staff. Either way, having an easy-to-use software solution installed is essential. Partner up with a vendor that is committed to your success. Being able to serve up customer information that is accessible at a moment’s notice is crucial. Your staff needs to have a seamless process that encourages them to use the software. Once they have bought in, it becomes part of their daily routine.

 

*Source: Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company.

Meet Prospect Vision’s New Digital Press: The Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press

Prospect Vision is proud to announce the newest addition to the office – The Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press. Equipped with groundbreaking technology, this state-of-the-art printing press allows for maximum efficiency while delivering unmatched quality. As one of the most powerful, advanced, and innovative presses on the market today, the possibilities are endless when it comes to providing our customers with the high-quality materials they desire.

What Does This Mean for Our Customers?

With the new Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press, our customers can now expect even higher efficiency when working with Prospect Vision. With the ability to print from such a powerful production press, we’re now able to do even more in less time. Ultimately, this means we can provide you with even quicker turnaround times, getting you the materials you need as soon as you need them. This doesn’t mean we’re sacrificing quality, though. Far from it. With technology like the exclusive Xerox® Ultra HD Resolution and Production Accurate Registration, we guarantee you’ll be stunned by the quality of your materials with each delivering jaw-dropping detail. From banners to envelopes, we can handle any job you need with a minimal turnaround time.

Details on the Xerox® Versant® 3100 Press

For those who are curious to learn exactly how efficient this press is, take a look at some of the impressive stats below.

  • Prints at 100 ppm on stocks, specialty media from 52-350 gsm, and auto-duplex up to 350 gms
  • Exclusive Xerox® Ultra HD 10 bit Resolution with four times more pixels than other presses
  • Average Monthly Printing Volume of up to 250,000 and maximum monthly duty cycle of 1.2 million
  • Fully automated color and production print optimization via Full-Width Array
  • Automated Color Calibration and Production Accurate Registration with tolerances to within a half millimeter
  • EA Toner, 2400 x 2400 dip with 10-bit RIP and an advance Compact Belt Fuser

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Contact Prospect Vision Today

If you’re looking for a partner in printing, we are now, more than ever, your go-to source. From booklets, brochures, and catalogs, to reports and newsletters, and even wire-bound products, we can do it all. Get the materials you need with one of the shortest turnaround times in the industry, and ramp up your marketing today. Teaming up with Prospect Vision may just be the best business decision you’ve ever made. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

Spend Your Weekend with the Western Piedmont Symphony

Western Piedmont Symphony

For residents of Hickory, North Carolina, and surrounding areas, finding events the whole family can enjoy is incredibly easy this June! With so much going on, especially for those that enjoy listening to and supporting the Western Piedmont Symphony, there’s something exciting to do every night throughout the weekend.

Take a look below at some of the events going on in Hickory, NC, throughout the rest of June, and mark your calendar to attend.

Sails Original Music Series
Friday, June 22

Here’s a chance for you to enjoy live music under the Sails on the Square. Happening every Friday evening through September, gather with the community starting at 6:30 pm to listen to a range of unique artists. Friday, June 22, will feature The Moon and You, which is a duo that includes Ryan Furstenberg playing the banjo and guitar, and Melissa Hyman on the cello. The following Friday, June 29, Twisted Pine will be playing their music full of rich harmonies, including the latest pop music in acoustic form.

Dueling Pianos at Market on Main
Saturday, June 23

Along with taking in the beautiful music of the Western Piedmont Symphony, this fundraising event on Saturday, June 23, also features a dueling piano bar. Come watch Western Piedmont Symphony favorites Gregory Knight and John Coffey play some of your favorite songs one after the other. You can either bid on your favorite songs, or just sit back, relax and take it all in.

Tickets to this fundraiser are $125 per couple, and you can purchase them online now. By purchasing tickets, you can be proud to support your local orchestra, which is only one of two professional orchestras in Western North Carolina, while also helping them sustain their performances throughout the season.

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Symphony Under the Stars
Sunday, June 24

Come catch the Western Piedmont Symphony perform once again on Sunday, June 24, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Union Square in Downtown Hickory. Part of Summer Pops on Sunday, this event is located under the Sails on the Square, making it the perfect spot to bring a blanket and let the family enjoy a beautiful symphony under the stars before the work week begins.

If you’re not already a lover of the Western Piedmont Symphony, attending just one of their events this June is sure to make you an avid supporter of this local orchestra. While their mission is to provide musical performances that enrich the Hickory community, these events are open to the public and a great chance to teach your children about this musical genre. So, don’t miss out on the local community fun and the chance to support your area orchestra.

Trucks and SUVs – An Equity Mining Opportunity

equity mining trucks

There are two kinds of vehicle owners in this country, those that drive a truck (SUVs included) and those that want a truck. In the latest 2018 May sales recap, trucks commanded 62 percent of new vehicle sales. This paradigm change in the market is so complete that Ford will quit producing cars in 2020.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for equity mining. Every “car” in the service lane presents an opportunity. It’s not that people just want trucks – they need trucks.

American culture, both young and old, is increasingly focusing on wellness. Trucks and SUV’s are now crucial for hauling gear. Paddleboards, kayaks, biking, hiking – you name it – are all facilitated by owning a truck. Previously, those who owned a pickup truck also had a car in the driveway. But now, that second vehicle is an SUV.

Equity mining

The desire for trucks and SUVs is an opportunity to create incremental sales, shorten the customer trading cycle, and to establish a significant profit center for a dealership. These opportunities turn into success when equity mining their database and equity mining the service lane are married to the right process and the right tools. Dealerships that set up a full-time department/team and have them focus on equity mining for service lane sales can convert from 2 percent to 4 percent of their total customer pay and warranty repair orders into new vehicle sales. Additionally, they can convert 3–5 percent of the eligible database equity mining contacts into sales monthly.

A little push

Make no mistake about it, a new vehicle purchase is still an impulse item. Very rarely does anyone have to have a new vehicle. A truck or SUV is an impulse buy for very rational reasons: “It’s so handy for chores around the house.” “It provides greater visibility and safety.” “It allows us to haul paddleboards and kayaks.” And so on.

Place an SUV or Crossover equipped with a bike rack, paddleboards, or kayak in the service drive next to the customer lounge entrance. Have artwork on the customer lounge walls featuring trucks, SUV, and crossovers in lifestyle settings. We have always said that two of the most influential factors in sales are social acceptability and a compelling reason to buy. Trucks and SUVs give you both.

Another tactic is to incentivize buying with YETI giveaways. Try displaying these coolers near the truck, and advertise that they come free with vehicle purchase. These coolers are known for their high quality and cool factor – pardon the pun. Leveraging the outdoor and adventure lifestyle associated with the YETI brand will help you connect this image with the purchase of a truck.

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Prepare to win

Create an atmosphere for equity mining to be successful. We have all heard the quote, “The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

Taking time to stage the service lane can give an extra push to your equity mining and provide a leg up for your salespeople.

3 Must-See Exhibits at the Hickory Museum of Art This Summer

art museum

Whether you’re an art lover or just want your children to develop an appreciation for it, the Hickory Museum of Art makes for a great rainy-day adventure for the whole family. While the museum always has fascinating works of art to see, this month is particularly a great time to visit due to the exhibits currently on display.

From the unseen artistic endeavors of Mathew Diffee, to the landscape paintings of Hickory native, Paul Hunter Speagle, these are three exhibits you do not want to miss this summer.

One Man Group Show: The Cartoons and Other Art of Matthew Diffee

The One Man Group Show exhibit includes many of Matthew Diffee’s cartoons and illustrations that have been published in The New Yorker Magazine. These cartoons are well-known for their craftsmanship and aesthetic design. While you may have seen many of these before, the main attraction is his paintings of landscapes and abstractions that are being put on display for the first time. If you’re a fan of his cartoons, then you must visit this exhibit before it ends on July 8.

Walking the Dog: Paul Hunter Speagle

Paul Hunter Speagle grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, and his artwork reflects the landscape of his hometown. Along with the mountainous landscape paintings, this exhibit is topped off with nature sounds and the smell of moss and apples to excite all your senses. Visitors will also be able to use the giant crayons, which Speagle engineers himself, on the massive coloring book of North Carolina Mountains until the exhibit closes on July 15.

Embracing A New Form: Paul Whitener’s Later Works

Paul Whitener was the founder and first director of the Hickory Museum of Art. He was also a well-known portrait artist and landscape painter.  In order to continue painting after doctors removed a brain tumor, leaving his right side paralyzed, he taught himself how to paint with his left hand. This led to him developing a more abstract style with the use of cato ink and casein paint. You’ll see both finished and unfinished paintings on display until June 24.

Visit the Hickory Museum of Art in North Carolina Today

The Hickory Museum of Art is located in the same building as the Catawba Science Center on the SALT Block. While general admission to the museum is free, tours are only $2 a person. An added bonus is the science museum that is just steps away, making a visit to these two museums a great way to spend the day with the family!