Generation Y, sometimes known as Millennials, are a slightly larger cohort (83 million) than Baby Boomers. Gen Yers were born between 1980 and 1998. According to a recent Deloitte study, they will represent two out of every five shoppers by the end of 2012. They have changed the style, music and most importantly, the way we connect with each other – through social media and texting. All major retailers are retooling how they communicate, merchandise and sell to this generation. It’s now time for you to create a “Gen Y Friendly” dealership environment.
What the heck is a Gen Y friendly store?
Your sales staff. The first rule of sales is to find common ground and this generation is very different in the way they use technology, how they relate to each other, how they view society, how they use their leisure time, and their style (piercing and “tats”). You need to employ Gen Y to successfully sell to Gen Y. 40% of your sales staff should look like your customer base – Gen Y.
The sales process. They also crave complete transparency, not often found in most dealerships’ sales processes. Another potential sales crippler is the time it takes to sell a vehicle. Research indicates that 70% of the time it takes over four hours to sell a vehicle; at least an hour and a half of this time is dead time for them – they are not actively engaged in any way. So even if they wind up buying a car from your store, it is more than likely they will post a negative review, give you a bad SSI score and trash you on their Facebook page. You’d better figure out how to eliminate wasted time in the sales process.
Finally, there is a reason it is called social media; this is a very social generation that really enjoys building relationships. It is important that your sales staff increases their “engagement skills” and work on developing a more personal relationship with the Gen Y buyer before entering into the negotiations phase – this is best done during your needs assessment/customer interview step of the sale.
No hard sell: It is important to note that this group hates to be “sold.” Any form of pressure (“this deal is only good today…”) will totally turn them off. To be successful in selling sales and service to Gen Y customers, you need an “information sharing” process rather than a traditional sales process. This is a process that is permission based, transparent and one that asks questions before making statements.
Example – Selling a Gen Y a 30K maintenance package in your service department:
Service advisor: “Are you aware of the required maintenance necessary to keep your warranty in force?” After our Gen Y’er answers “yes,” the Advisor asks permission to proceed: “May I share with you what those maintenance items are?”
Five keys to fixed operations success: There are five key areas that will create a Gen Y friendly customer service experience:
- Online appointment scheduling (that works!)
- Minimum wait time during the service write-up process
- An information sharing sales process
- Text messaging with questions or concerns (“Were you aware that your back brakes are only at 1%?”) or when the service is completed
- An express checkout similar to Apple’s (e-mailing the receipt)
Social media – Reputation sites are the new CSI (pretty much manipulation free…). Gen Y are avid shoppers – they’ve been doing research and influencing their parents and friends buying decisions since their early teens. Their shopping pattern is: 1. Reputation sites (DealerRater.com) 2. Social media (Facebook.com) 3. Dealer website (very frustrating for dealers who have finally figured out a strategy for driving traffic to their websites…).
Speaking of websites, 56% would prefer to virtually complete the entire vehicle transaction online before coming to your store. This puts tremendous strain on most dealerships’ Internet sales processes, especially if you’re utilizing a BDC primarily to make appointments. Can your BDC answer the questions the Gen Y shopper will pose before setting an appointment (interest rates; incentives; availability; trade-in estimates…)?
Dealerships that institute a transparent, information-rich Internet process will have the upper hand in dealing with the Millennials.
Bottom line: Most dealerships have a fairly similar sales and service process. Most customers want an elevated customer experience similar to the ones they receive from other world-class retailers. Most dealerships are trying to figure out how to create a competitive advantage that clearly differentiates their stores from the competition. Adopting practices that create a Gen Y friendly store not only appeal to Millennials but to all women as well.
Women and Gen Y purchase over 60% of new vehicles. That percentage is only going to become greater as Gen Y matures. It’s time to reengineer your sales and service processes to catch up with where the majority of the market is going.