Seems like no matter how things change in our business, some basics still prevail. Dealerships today can utilize any number of computer pricing models all designed to capture shoppers through price. One could think “low bidder wins”. But if you use a computer pricing model to price used cars at the lowest price in the market, who really wins? Only the customer, certainly not the dealership or the salesperson.
Two of the time tested basics still ensure both the dealership and the customer win….value and the shopping experience. One fairly successful entrepreneur, Walt Disney said, ”People will spend money where and when they feel good.” So what makes someone feel good enough at a particular dealership to spend their money there? The answer is basic: the experience and the value perceived.
The experience begins even before they set foot on the dealership lot. With 85% of auto shoppers going to a dealership website before visiting, the dealership website must begin to create this “feel good” feeling initially. A dealership’s website must be clear, full of information about the dealership, the vehicles offered, the practices of the company, and information on the employees with whom they may be interacting. In other words, full disclosure.
Value begins on the website and must be transmitted through every interaction at the dealership, especially on pre-owned vehicles. When a dealership uses computer pricing models to price vehicles, it’s difficult to migrate to value and we all know that when a deal begins with pricing, whether it is the sales price or payment or down payment or special financing only the customer wins this battle.
When you begin a pre-owned presentation based on value, you have a much better path to making the customer feel good about spending their money with you now. And when the customer can see value in their purchase decision and they feel good about that decision and the dealership personnel then everyone wins.
So how do you begin to present value in a pre-owned vehicle before price? First the salesperson must be a knowledgeable professional on every pre-owned vehicle in inventory, not just the branded vehicles. When a customer asks a product knowledge question you don’t want the “school” answer… ”I don’t know but I can find out.” You build value with the salesperson being able to answer any product knowledge question on any vehicle. This also builds confidence in the sales person and indirectly in the dealership. Now we’re beginning to make the customer “feel good”. Impossible you say? Not really. If you can provide your sales staff with a professional printed history on every pre-owned vehicle, it’s quite easy. A history on every vehicle should contain full product information on the vehicle, professional trade reviews, owner reviews, service history, title history as well as dealership information. A lot of dealerships are already doing this and have experienced the profound difference it makes. Some dealerships dedicate an employee to building a history on each vehicle while most use the services of third parties to create and supply a professional history. This same information contained in this history must also be on each vehicle’s detail page on your website. When the online shopper experiences the full disclosure and value story on the website during their research, you’re already building the value and “feel good” feeling that motivates them to contact and visit.
So in summary, don’t forget the basics of value and experience in our business. Shoppers have a lot of choice in purchasing a pre-owned vehicle today and then later in a few years. Capture their business today with value and experience to make them customers for life.