Be the dealership of choice

September 12, 2018

Why is it that some dealerships excel and others fall short? We’re convinced that the way you demonstrate your value to the consumer is of the utmost importance. Here are some tips to ensure that your dealership doesn’t become an afterthought.

Availability in hours, products, and pricing

What are your hours of operation? If some of your customers come from the corporate world, your hours should be flexible enough that they can visit your dealership in the evenings or on weekends. Achieving business success can be challenging if you’re not accessible to your customers.

What does your vehicle inventory look like? Does it cater to your customers’ needs? Using data to identify the brands and models that your customers desire most can be worthwhile. With these insights, it makes having a thriving dealership – regardless of how exclusive or generous your selection of vehicles is – much more feasible.

In an ideal world, customers don’t choose dealerships solely based on price point. However, keep in mind that pricing is a completely valid and inevitable consideration. Would you say no to a bargain? That’s why it’s imperative that your sales team is well versed in the value, beyond pricing, that your particular dealership can offer – be it your vehicle inventory or exceptional customer service.

First impressions matter

They really do. In fact, iQmetrix writes that because merchandising also has roots in behavioural science, certain retail layouts, colours, and displays can actually trigger different emotional and physical reactions (iQmetrix, 2017).

Consider the visual aesthetic of your dealership and how it can influence your customers’ shopping behaviours (iQmetrix, 2017). For instance, the colour yellow can evoke a sense of warmth and optimism, whereas black décor connotes style and elegance.

Perks and amenities also provide value to the customer. Do you have a shuttle service so they can run errands while their car is being serviced? If they decide to wait at the dealership, what does the waiting area look like? Pristine, we hope! Are there snacks and beverages? Entertainment? Internet access? Assume that your customers will be making return visits to your dealership. Their entire experience should always be top of mind – otherwise, they may go elsewhere.

Be adaptable, but also be a trendsetter

The automotive industry is in a state of disruption, with innovations like AI and machine learning finding their ways into our processes. Despite the weight of tradition in the industry, keeping up with technological advances is essential to remain competitive in the market.

In a previous article, Four forces driving change in the insurance industry, we highlighted the value of digital touchpoints in the eyes of the consumer – particularly among millennials. In a mobile-first society, it’s important that information is easily accessible right at our fingertips.

There are also internal processes that can benefit from the integration of digital solutions, such as inventory management and capturing consumer data. Improvements in inventory management for example, can put you in a better position to deliver exceptional customer service by providing accurate and timely information.

Remember that refreshing your business processes shouldn’t be an isolated occurrence. Continually keeping up with emerging trends and carrying out routine updates can ensure that your processes stay relevant.

Don’t forget – you’re in a relationship!

We all need things, but we need people more. And just like any relationship, chemistry matters. You have the privilege of playing a significant role in your customers’ vehicle ownership experience, so make sure to bring your “A” game – especially for repeat customers.

Millennials in particular are searching for a trusted advisor that’s professional, but also treats them like a friend. If they don’t feel personally catered to or understood, they’ll feel the disconnect and look to alternative dealerships.

In an on-demand world, quick responses and efficient service take priority. However, there’s a fine line between being helpful and being pushy. If you can avoid it, never leave a customer waiting – especially if they’ve just stepped into your dealership and are clearly looking for assistance.

Instead, act as the expert on each of your customer’s vehicles and provide them with informed client care. Meet your customer where they are in their journey rather than backtracking to the beginning. Be mindful that they may have conducted research prior to visiting your dealership, and therefore, have a clear sense of exactly what they’re looking for. Although it’s exciting that needs assessment tools are emerging as digital solutions for the automotive industry, the onus is ultimately still on the dealer representative to provide outstanding service.

Dealerships are plentiful in North America, so there’s even more reason to stand out by demonstrating your value to your existing and potential customers. Give some thought to the tips we’ve shared today – they just might hold some value themselves.