CLINTON — Local business representatives shared their strategies with a small group Thursday evening at the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, as part of the chamber’s “Marketing your Business in a Downward Economy” seminar.

John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, was scheduled to lead the session, but was called to Washington, D.C. this week on business for the association. McEleney is a lifelong Clinton resident and owns McEleney AutoCenter in Clinton and McEleney Autoplex in Iowa City.

Mark Chasey, general manager and vice president of McEleney AutoCenter, stood in for McEleney as the opening speaker.

Other speakers scheduled for the event included Sheralyn Bartels and Elizabeth Bartels of Don’s Jewelry, Ric O’Leary of Banner Home Furnishings, Carissa Evans of BeautiControl and Mike Rastrelli of Rastrelli’s Restaurant. The event was sponsored by Clinton National Bank and Gateway State Bank.

In a lighthearted moment after his introduction, Chasey acknowledged the speaker change and joked at his own expense in regard to McEleney’s absence.

“It’s kind of like going to the Bulls game wanting to see Michael Jordan, and him not being in the lineups,” he deadpanned.

Chasey has worked at McEleney AutoCenter for 16 years and said the dealership has seen success partly because of the low staff turnover, which helps create stability.

“You don’t have a lot of people that are coming and going all the time,” he said. “And the customers that are coming back in, a lot of times see the same person that they spoke to last time.”

Chasey added that the dealership works to retain its customers by getting satisfaction feedback within a few days of the service given.

If a customer is dissatisfied, Chasey says, the dealership will give them a free oil change or coupons. The company also also strives to create a marketing balance that targets specific groups, yet still manages to put the dealership name out in the general public.

The dealership still scatters its message through general advertising, but mainly focuses on specific advertising through its customer database.

“I try to take more of an approach, the precision compared to the shotgun approach,” said Chasey. “One of the things we talked about heavily was, we need to take care of the people that are doing business with us. We need to focus in on them.”

This Week's Circulars