As dealers' use of Facebook and Twitter can show, the fastest way to a vehicle sale isn't always a hard sell in the showroom.
Sometimes, charitable events and community outreach engender the good will that leads to a sale.
That's what dealership groups sprinkled across the country hope to do next month when they host private premieres at theaters of a new family film, Little Boy.
Waikem Auto Family expects to fill a century-old theater in Massillon, Ohio, with 150 customers and guests for the premiere, said David Waikem, co-owner of the seven-store group.
He said for as little as $2,000 he can show appreciation to customers while continuing the group's support for renovations to the downtown institution. Moreover, the film about a boy's remarkable life journey sends the kind of family message that the group wants to project, Waikem said. The group sells Nissan, Ford, Subaru, Honda, Kia, Hyundai and Mitsubishi vehicles.
"The days of high-pressure sales tactics are over," he said.
Honda dealerships in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Cleveland also have committed to holding premieres.
Sean Wolfington, one of the movie's producers and a dealership marketing consultant, said the more typical events that dealerships hold, such as wine tastings, can cost a few thousand dollars for catering. Little Boy is the work of Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey.
Little Boy is expected to open in 1,000 theaters on April 24, Wolfington said. The private dealership premieres are targeted for the Wednesday or Thursday before wide release.
Brian Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura in New York City, said a screening can be booked without a hassle. It is available with step-by-step instructions at privatemoviepremieres.com.
Benstock said, "Every dealership is looking for a way to differentiate itself and build relationships with clients."