Has the slow-down arrived?

According to CNBC, a number of dealerships are reporting softer sales in recent weeks, creating speculation that auto retailers face tough sledding in weeks and months to come. But here’s the thing: if you’ve future-proofed your dealership, you’re going to be just fine no matter what happens. In fact, you will outperform your competition if you do some things that prepare yourself to attract and keep customers during industry upswings and downturns. Here are seven ways you can future-proof your dealership in the face of ongoing change:

  1. Turn shopping into meaningful match making. Consumers are looking for a more personalized experience. They want vehicles customized to their lifestyle preferences. They want to choose their own salespeople. Relying on third-party marketplaces and sales profile tools can make it easier for dealers to promote personalized inventory and make it easy for customers to choose their own sales team.
  2. Leverage insights to determine the “why” behind the purchase. Consumers shop for vehicles across a number of multiple devices and channels. Tracking their behavior and connecting the dots has become more critical than ever in order to attribute appropriate ROI and minimize ad waste. Also critical: using those insights to provide context of why they are buying and use that to more effectively sell by leveraging what excites them and overcome objections.
  3. Drive smarter, higher quality leads. Not all leads are created equal. You need both quantity and quality. The better the lead information, the more context you have to more effectively connect with your lead, develop a better pitch, and close the sale.
  4. Extend your hours without extending your labor costs. Your shoppers live in an always-on world. So should you. You can’t keep your physical store open 24/7, but your online sales efforts can be. Car shopping online doesn’t stop when your doors close, and you need virtual representation after-hours to avoid gaps in the car shopping journey and keep the buying process moving.
  5. Find consumers before they find you. It’s critical that you find customers where they are. If you don’t find them, they may not find you. Finding in-market customers at key points in their digital car shopping journey can help extend the reach of your inventory, making it work harder for you. Boosting your content with stronger digital advertising is key.
  6. Dominate social. Social selling has become a must for auto retailers. New forms of digital advertising on platforms such as Facebook help extend the reach of auto retailers. But they can often be difficult to navigate. In order to dominate social, you need to be present 24/7. You also need to unleash your people to be brand ambassadors on social. Social is a team sport. Everyone at your dealership needs to play.
  7. Manage your reputation. Reputation management is a key factor to operating a well-oiled dealership. With online reviews for retail and businesses in general, automotive reviews are growing-and can be seen by the general public. The ability to quickly respond to and manage reviews critical to maintaining a positive reputation for your business to both potential and current customers.

Dealerships that make a long-term investment into the right tools that win customers and keep them will win every time. But you can’t do so unless you’re committed to adapting your dealership before catalysts disrupt you. The winning formula for future-proofing your dealership:

  • Have the right mindset. Look for opportunities to change instead of waiting for change to happen to you.
  • Have a game plan for change and use the right tools to help you win. Here is where the seven ways to future-proof your dealership come into play.

What is your game plan for winning in 2019 and beyond?

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