With competition continuously growing in the dealership industry, dealerships are having to take advantage of different methods and make a change in certain ideologies. This can be anything from upgrading the dealership’s CRM, to utilizing a vendors’ targeted email marketing tools. However, no matter which methods are used in an effort to stay competitive, there will still be a basic set of rules that will help to prevent competitors from taking business. These rules will help to maintain current customers, as well as attract new consumers that otherwise could walk into the competitors store.
The consumers online experience must carry an ease of use unmatched by competitors. With the largest percentage of online research in the automotive industry’s history, and the majority of consumers’ minds already made up regarding vehicle decisions even before stepping into the dealership, it is extremely important to have a positive user experience. With the dealership’s website set up properly, the overall goal will be for leads to be funneled into the dealerships CRM and to the BDC/Internet Department/etc. Dealerships that succeed provide a path for the consumer to function at ease throughout the dealer’s website, ultimately to fill out forms or request more information. In addition, high quality photography and dealership videos will set the store apart from any others not providing such content.
First Impressions create the relationship between the consumer and the dealership. The importance of the dealership greeting is uniquely key, because unlike any other industry, consumers already have a mindset against the dealership. It’s up to each specific store to change this mindset. Customers are far more likely to purchase from a dealership that gives a warm welcome; one in which they are positively assisted by the dealership staff. In this greeting, though, there is a balance that must be kept in mind. There needs to be a median between multiple sales staff greeting all at once and a customer walking around the lot with no interaction. Once that balance is found, and the greeting is put into place, the first impression is standard. Consumers can then begin to change their mindset of what a dealership experience can become.
Sales follow-up must be customizable to each consumer. When it comes to sales follow-ups, there are a few general rules to keep in mind; keep in contact but do not pester the lead. The middle ground here is finding how each consumer would benefit from a follow-up. Some customers need the reminder more than others, it’s up to the dealership sales staff, and the CRM, to complement each other to find the best practice. However, many dealerships do not track follow-ups as well as they could be. For example, with an advanced CRM, the sales personnel have the ability to track calls, emails, texts, even email campaigns, that have been sent to each consumer. This better prepares each salesperson and allows the entire dealership to come off as an intelligent resource rather than a pestering sales machine.
The post-sale behavior should mirror that same methodology as the sale itself. Once the vehicle has been sold, the job has not been completed. The first impression and follow-up processes have led to the sale, however everyone knows someone, and reviews/referrals are key to the growing success of a dealership’s sales. When a customer drives off of the lot, it’s up to that salesperson, and or management to keep in contact, slightly. From inquiring into the happiness of the customer with the new vehicle, to pointing them in the direction of the review process; the post-sale etiquette can create a multitude of new business that otherwise could be lost to competitors.
There should be a revolving door between the sales and service departments. The goal for every dealership should be to create a customer for life. Every salesperson should keep this in mind, every sale. Once the sale has been made, the vehicles service will most likely be done at that same dealership. It’s up to the sales staff to keep in contact with the customer as they come into the dealerships service department. Having that relationship built will better the chances of that same customer repurchasing from that same dealer. If the service customer hasn’t previously purchased a vehicle from that dealership, there is an opportunity to build a new relationship which could become a future customer. When the sales and service departments are onboard with the same mentality, both will thrive. However, as some may practice, separating these departments can create a gap where customers can fall into.
With the growing competition of products and vendors available to all dealerships, it’s key for there to be stand out procedures inside the dealership to help it stand out from the rest. Basic adjustments can make large strides in the attitude and mentality that the consumer has toward the dealership. Whether consumers have direct contact with these processes, or are referred because of them, the dealership will benefit as a whole.
Author: Aubrey Hankins
Aubrey Hankins serves as Social Media Marketing Director for CRMSuite, a software company providing dealerships with industry leading, technologically advanced CRM Software. With almost 10 years of marketing and social media experience, he brings a wealth of informative automotive discussion and debate, all in order to help dealers sell more cars.