Automotive retail is and always has been a complex business. Selling a car is one of the most complicated transactions out there, increasingly so when you throw online retailing into the mix. On top of that, today used car margins are decreasing, service departments are at capacity, and there’s more cash than ever tied up in CIT and other transactions.
These limitations can only be overcome by going beyond what you thought was possible for your dealership.
Sales: Go beyond a disjointed online to in-store experience
Over the last few years, dealers and OEMs have worked hard to implement online buying processes. But the truth is, it’s not enough to simply offer digital retailing options. Most customers begin their buying journey on your website and finish in-store, so you need to offer a connected, seamless experience no matter where the customer is.
Actions the customer takes online must translate to their in-store experience. This means if a customer so much as chats with a sales rep on your website, the conversation should be easy to reference during their appointment at your dealership. If they go further and begin a deal online, the pricing and deal details they see on your website should be an exact match to the information they’re presented in-store.
It’s vital to focus on convenience and efficiency during the in-store experience as well. The ability to access all deal details in your CRM and present the customer with multiple payment options can save a lot of time. Presenting F&I menus on a mobile device and quickly adding selected products to the deal can also help make the buying experience more fluid.
Inventory Management: Go beyond lack of recon visibility and imprecise comp sets
With margins on used vehicles narrowing, you need to know exactly how each car will sell at your unique dealership and be able to move it quickly. A lack of precise data when appraising and pricing a vehicle just won’t cut it.
For example, when unexpected costs come up during the reconditioning process, it can be disastrous to your bottom line. You need better insight into reconditioning costs during the appraisal process so you can make an informed decision on how much you should offer for the vehicle or if you should make an offer at all.
Additionally, in today’s rapidly fluctuating market, comp sets that are refreshed daily are a must. With up-to-date comp sets, you can be sure you’re pricing vehicles using cars that are currently on the market as opposed to using outdated listings that have already sold. For even more accuracy, comp sets should match the precise vehicle you’re appraising and be easy to adjust. Say your focus is selling CPO vehicles, then you may only want to see other CPO vehicles in your comp sets and exclude others. You should have the flexibility to filter and sort this information easily. With more precise data and better visibility, you can turn inventory quickly and profitably.
Service Capacity: Go beyond long check-in lines and phone tag with customers to get work approved
Service departments everywhere are struggling with capacity issues. But hiring more technicians or building more bays is a huge undertaking. Instead, to expand your capacity, consider all the ways you can improve service efficiency.
For example, you can free up your advisors’ time and prevent bottlenecks by allowing customers to schedule service, access their electronic report card, and pay invoices online. Self-service check-in and check-out options using a kiosk or mobile QR code can also help keep things moving during the morning or evening rush.
Additionally, texting or emailing customers can help you get work approved faster than a typical phone call. Making your internal communications faster and easier is another great way to improve efficiency. Electronic communication between advisors, technicians, and parts saves a lot of back and forth throughout the day.
Overall, making these small efficiency improvements allows your team to focus on turning wrenches rather than tedious tasks. This can help you get more work through the shop each day with the techs and bays you already have.
Business Office: Go beyond cash flow that is out of your control
Healthy cash flow is important to your dealership – especially today in the face of high interest rates. But sending physical checks, invoices, and deals means at any given point, you have a lot of money tied up in transit.
To take full control of your cash flow, consider streamlining your approval and payment process with electronic routing and payment. This will eliminate the need to print checks and stuff envelopes and ensure payments are made quickly and on time.
Another area to focus is eContracting. More and more lenders are moving to electronic funding, and some even prioritize dealerships that eContract over those that don’t. This is a sure way to get funded in hours, not days.
Not only do digital transactions get your money where it needs to go faster, but they also help you save on the printing and shipping costs associated with physical documents.
It’s Time to Go Beyond
The tools and processes you used in the past can only get you so far today. They often create gaps that silo departments and require manual steps like rekeying information between technology platforms or using paper documents.
Solutions that allow for a seamless flow of information between your departments, customers, vendors, and lenders are necessary to take your dealership to the next level.