Dealer Chuck Guschewsky's automotive business stretches from Rawlins in the south to Sheridan in north-central Wyoming and up over the state line to Red Lodge in Montana.
So the eight-site, nine-franchise dealership group has products, and lots of them. But in case the most convenient facility does not have exactly what that buyer is looking for, Guschewsky and his staff wanted to be certain a potential customer knew it likely was in stock and could be supplied quickly.
In 2001, Fremont Motor Cos. began using the slogan, "Fremont's got it."
"I know it's not grammatically correct, but it gets the message across," Guschewsky says. "Just because you don't see it on the lot doesn't mean that we do not have whatever the customer might need."
He didn't want customers to think they should drive to mega-dealerships in Salt Lake City or in neighboring Colorado.
Guschewsky, 46, says the business started in Lander, in the center of the vast cowboy state of Wyoming, which has fewer than a half-million residents.
"Eleven years ago, we had one store," he says. "We presently have nine but are selling one, which will bring us to eight."
Each dealership has a three-car trailer, and the group owns a semi with a full-sized hauler to back up the "Got It" promise.
Fremont had been using the simple phrase "experience the difference," referring to its all-around good customer service.
"We did that for five or six years," Guschewsky says. "Then we just got a little antsy and thought we should change."
The change involved using a musical jingle for the first time, a move Guschewsky approves. People remember a simple tune and a few words, he says. Three well-chosen words are enough for a good slogan, he adds.
Various ads then elaborate on the slogan, emphasizing Fremont features such as expert sales, comprehensive inventory and top-notch service.
"It has to be explained - you can't tell the whole story in a single ad," Guschewsky says.
The business uses a variety of media. The recent proliferation of radio stations has made it difficult to saturate an area, a technique Guschewsky liked to use. And satellite reception has done the same thing to TV.
Charlie and Co., an advertising agency in Memphis, Tenn., did the Fremont TV spots. Guschewsky says he tends to spread projects among several ad agencies as well as rely on staff because "a combination is healthy."
Five years ago, he hired Darwin Dammon who, as ad director, coordinates his stores' advertising and marketing programs.
Guschewsky didn't want the dealerships to advertise the same products at different prices. And, with an ad director at the helm, media buys and amounts paid are coordinated. So are gifts to non-profit programs.
"Each store contributes to the advertising budget," Guschewsky says. "They run their own marketing programs past Darwin, and all billing goes through him."
Advertising ideas have been generated in-house. A significant portion of the monthly management meeting is devoted to discussing the effects of marketing. Managers bring feedback from their staffs who, in turn, are listening to customers.
"We're always tuned to customer feedback, but it is hard to measure accurately," Guschewsky says. "If asked, people may not know why they came in to the dealership."
There are bulletin boards at the stores to which Fremont's customer response cards are fastened.
Guschewsky maintains that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool. "Our objective is to have customers marketing for us," he says.
There must be a plan in place and money behind it, he says, but the plan must remain flexible. The company budgets for a year, but monthly commitments are elastic. Who knows what factory incentives will be introduced and when, for example.