It's hard enough for dealers to sell expensive luxury vehicles when customers are able to try them out and then drive them home. So how do you sell them when customers can't do either -- and may not be able to for months?
For Steven Wolf, dealer principal of Helfman Maserati in Houston, the answer was surprisingly simple: You have a party.
In May, Helfman Maserati hosted a "launch event" for the Maserati Levante, a luxury crossover that would not be available to deliver for at least four months with a starting price close to $72,000.
With help from the factory, the dealership brought in a pre-production Levante for a full day on May 26 and sent hundreds of invitations to its clients to come see Maserati's first crossover, even if they couldn't drive it. That evening, the dealership was transformed into a high-end nightspot, complete with wine, hors d'oeuvres and music, all for Houston's A-list crowd, Wolf said.
The result: eight immediate sales, even though the first Levantes wouldn't be delivered until late September. And 42 more sales before the first salable Levante rolled off the car hauler at the Houston dealership.
"I've been doing this since 1989, and it's the best marketing program to launch a new vehicle I've ever seen," explained Wolf, 51.