Now, more than ever, it is an understatement to say that the automotive industry is a very competitive business environment. Retailers must compete with same brand competitors while trying to stay ahead of their off-brand competition. Meanwhile, OEMs are pressured to create vehicles that are unique, eco-friendly, technologically advanced and affordable. That’s a tall order.
Making this even more complicated is the fact that most consumers are doing a considerable amount of research online before they walk into a dealership. They know what they want, and they are relying heavily on both word of mouth and the internet to make their decisions. 38% of people participating in a recent Ontario Automotive Consumer Study say their family, friends and co-workers play an important role in their pre-purchase research. 40% said visiting dealer websites is also part of their pre-purchase research.
What does this mean for your automobile dealership? It means a lot of things.
1. It means you have to reach your audience well before they even think about buying a car.
2. It also means the customer experience must continue to be positive long after their purchase.
3. Salespeople need to focus on creating a stress-free service experience rather than manipulating customers and using hard sales tactics to close a deal.
Read on and I will go over some ways you can accomplish all of that and become a winning dealership.
Evaluate Your Marketing Efforts
Most automotive dealerships spend a lot of money on marketing without really knowing how effective it actually is. Some types of marketing are more easily measured than others. For example, it is very difficult to measure the success of flyers and newspaper ads. Digital marketing, on the other hand is very measurable. What kind of marketing should you be doing? A combination of efforts is best. Never rely on only one method of communication to grow your dealership.
Use A Multi-Pronged Marketing Approach
When developing your marketing campaigns, the saying, “Different strokes for different folks” should be your mantra. You have all kinds of customers with all sorts of preferences. Make sure your efforts include a mix of social media, email, traditional media, print collateral and direct mail pieces. Feel free to get creative using video and podcasts as well. The more channels you use, the more brand recognition and overall credibility you build.
Talk About More Than Sales
Consumers are looking to businesses to provide value along with their product offering. You’ve already got a lot of competition and very slim margins, so communicating value over product is one way you can ensure the long-term success of your dealership. Use your marketing to do more than advertise product. Remember, consumers are looking at your website while they do their research, so be a resource as well as a source. Take the opportunity to educate your audience with how-to blogs and emails, explainer videos, and anything else you can think of that informs your customers and prospects about things they may want to know.
Focus on Exceptional Customer Service
Customer service is another way to set yourself apart from your competitors. According to the Ontario Automotive Study mentioned above, the most common complaints from customers wanting to purchase a new car were haggling, high pressure sales tactics and having to wait too long to receive their vehicle. This means if you change the way you do business, you’ll attract more serious customers and close more sales. You will also be able to cultivate a healthier sales environment for your team. Thinking like everyone else will never allow you to stand out and you can’t grow by maintaining the status quo. Dare to be exceptional.
Seamless communication in the car buying process
Most dealerships get customers to sign on the dotted line and never speak to them again until delivery day. Sending out an email or making a phone call to let your new car owner know where you are in the delivery and registration process let’s them know you haven’t forgotten about them and that you are still excited to have them as a customer. The hit and run approach to sales is not a winning approach, so you should never allow your customers to feel like you’ve washed your hands of them and moved on to the next deal before they’ve even received their vehicle.
Regular Sales Training Sessions
Great salespeople are continuous learners who take an interest in honing their skills. No matter how seasoned you are, you always need to keep things fresh. Investing the time and money into properly training your staff (sales and others) is a worthwhile investment. As sales guru Zig Ziglar used to say, “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.”
Creating a winning dealership is a process that takes a long-term commitment to excellence in every area of your business. At RMN Marketing we work with dealers and OEMs to create comprehensive marketing programs that are measurable and PROVEN effective. We’ve got your marketing covered. You can do the rest!