SYLVANIA, Ohio — Joe Mehling minces no words in describing the effect of his desperate decision last year to turn to an old marketing standby and employ it in a completely unfamiliar way.
"There's no doubt about it," explains the man whose been executive general manager of family-owned Dave White Chevrolet, just a mile south of the Ohio-Michigan border, since 2006: "It's saved our ass."
The "it" to which Mehling is referring is local radio advertising, something Dave White Chevrolet has used nearly nonstop to drum up business for almost all of its 70-year-plus history. But unlike all of those previous decades, the local radio ad campaign right now isn't touting lease deals or the latest new-vehicle purchase specials — it's focused completely on bringing listeners in to sell their vehicles.
Not trade them in — sell them.
"We started it in August or September," Mehling said, when the dealership's new- and used-vehicle inventories were at historic lows. "We had to do something, and it made no sense for us to advertise cars that we didn't have. We were still doing all of the digital advertising, all of the Internet advertising, but we came up with the plan to put out a radio ad campaign that would let people know that we will actively buy your car from you. Bring it in, we'll appraise it. It's no hassle. If you have a balance, we'll pay the bank off, and we'll give you a check for the difference."