In the auto industry’s current climate, buyers have more options than ever when trying to buy a new vehicle and many try to avoid dealerships as much as they can, so they can save money. That’s just the nature of the game. But there are still plenty of buyers out there that would still prefer going to a dealership for all the advantages they offer. However, too many dealerships are still stuck in the past and are reluctant to use new methods that could help them bring more customers through their doors. Here are six simple strategies any car dealership can use to boost their sales.
Don’t Just Sell a Car, Sell an Experience
Take advantage of the excitement that comes with buying a new car. Buying a new vehicle is a big purchase and you have to go beyond the dry sales pitch and paperwork formalities if you want to get your prospects engaged.
You can start building the experience by enhancing your website and make sure that it is as interactive and as detailed as possible, so your visitors can actually get a feel for the vehicle before they buy. Do away with static images and factsheets and invest in some professional videography. Make sure that you show interior shots as much as possible so that your customers can feel what it’s like to be behind the wheel. You can then supplement this footage with a full fact sheet on the vehicle.
When visitors come through your doors, make sure that they feel welcome and cared for as soon as they walk in. Be as transparent as possible with the prices and don’t try to pressure them into going for an upgrade.
You should also make sure that the showroom experience is as positive as possible. If you only have an office and a parking lot, then it would be wise to invest in showroom space.
Building a permanent showroom can cost a lot but is a solid investment in the long-term. However, if you can’t afford a permanent showroom right away, you can always invest in temporary buildings whilst you wait for the permanent structure to be built. Companies like Smart Space offer these temporary showrooms that will help keep your business moving in the meantime. This should only be a temporary alternative to a showroom and a fixed roof and proper floor surface is highly recommended if you want it to look professional.
Make sure that you have a nice waiting area for customers so that they feel comfortable. Make sure the area is well furnished and that they don’t feel alone. Also, make sure that the area is as clean as possible. While this may seem like a minor detail, people will make a first impression judgement based on your waiting room and if it appears unclean and dishevelled, then it will reflect poorly on you and your vehicles.
If someone ends up not buying a vehicle but looks like a prospect, try to gather as much information on them as you can so you can customise your interactions with them next time. Try to find out which type, brand or make of vehicles they seem interested in and things such as their budget and how old a vehicle they are ready to buy. You can then follow up with them if you have new arrivals or deals you feel would fit with what they’re looking for.
Learn from the Japanese
The Japanese have a particular approach to business that promotes perfectionism almost to a fault. “Kaizen” as they call it is a philosophy that preaches constant improvement of a business through various means. One of the best ways to constantly improve your business is by gathering as much feedback from your customers as you can and taking the steps necessary to make the proper improvements.
Make sure that you gather as much feedback as you can through all stages of the sales funnel. Try to get your customers to rate your service when you interact with them online and try to follow up on them when they make a purchase. If you offer servicing, also make sure that you gather as much feedback as you can there as well.
Gathering and analysing feedback is the only way you’ll be able to make the proper adjustments and know exactly where you’re losing prospects.
Make sure that you Open Multiple Channels of Communication
According to a recent report by McKinsey & Company, over a third of the people surveyed said that they would be open to buying vehicles online. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many dealers that offer this option to their clients.
While you don’t have to go to this extreme, you do have to make the experience as interactive as possible for your clients and allow them to get everything they need to know about the vehicles straight from the comfort of their home. You want sales team to have to do the least amount of work possible when prospects walk through the doors and the customer’s mind should be already made up when they come in.
Also, make sure that you are as easily reachable as possible for your clients. Extend your helpline hours way beyond your office hours. Add a live chat link to your webpage. Encourage your visitors to follow you on social media. These are all steps that will allow you to build a more solid relationship with your prospective clients and facilitates sales.
Streamline and Secure Customer Data Collection
Pre-sales is probably one of the most important departments in all car dealerships. Very rarely will people just come in and make a purchase immediately with no questions asked. People in charge of pre-sales have to have some way to collect crucial data on your prospective customers. This information should be gathered before they are referred to your sales personnel.
Try to capture as much detail as possible and make sure that this information is available in a single point of reference so all customer-facing employees can see it and use it in their interactions. A good customer experience management system will allow you to create personalised questions for each member of your team for data collection purposes and will also allow you to store, analyse and organise that data for future use.
Study, but not Follow Your Competition
Doing a little bit of detective work will allow you to spy on your competition and see what they’re doing right. This will allow you to improve in areas where you feel like you’re lacking. Visit their websites and look at how their vehicles and business are presented. Look at the images, layout, car footage and description. Follow them on their social media to see what they’re doing as well.
Try to find out how they treat customers in-store and get a glimpse of their customer experience. You could ask people you know to go on your behalf and evaluate their service. Try to see how they differ from you in a positive way and try to improve on their methods, not emulate them.
You should also get them to get in contact with your customer service reps and give an honest evaluation of their service. Try to see if there are any areas where there could be any improvement or if the experience was downright unpleasant. Get them to test your customer service reps’ knowledge and see if they are enthusiastic about making sales and knowledgeable.
Be Careful with Rewards
It’s a common practice in many dealerships to hold contests and incentivise good performance through bonuses. These bonuses or awards are often made public in an attempt to motivate your sales force. But the effectiveness of this practice is still up for debate and could actually have the opposite effect with some of your employees. Some might start feeling inadequate, disengaged or feel that a few are receiving preferential treatment.
This could also end up destroying employee morale and make the work environment difficult. Some may start to become too aggressive which could eventually affect overall sales. Others may start building animosity towards certain employees and sabotage their efforts.
That’s why it’s always better to think twice about offering performance bonuses. Any signs of preferential treatment will eventually end up eroding the work atmosphere, so it’s better if you avoid this method altogether.
However, if you still want to incentivise good performance in your sales team, then you could always put them in groups and reward them as a group, not as individuals. And don’t judge them on purely financial targets but try to judge them on overall accomplishment. This will allow you to foster healthy competition between teams, not individuals, which will eventually help you boost employee engagement instead of deteriorating it.
Improving your car dealership’s sales all boils down to embracing change and being ready to implement new solutions to improve your performance. Make sure that you follow the tips in this article if you want to get the most out of your sales team and improve your conversions and foot traffic over time.