While disruptive technology sounds intimidating, it’s critical to support the changing way we do business. The “as-a-service” revolution is gaining more momentum now than ever before as a growing number of companies integrate their processes with cloud–based, data–driven platforms to better manage and improve operations. These technologies are paving the way for businesses to leverage once advanced tools like big data, AI and predictive analytics, ultimately empowering brands to do more with less and increase their efficiencies.
These as-a-service tools offer businesses easily deployable and scalable ways to meet changing consumer demands and improve their quality of service while also improving organizational efficiency. Real world examples of this are seen nearly everywhere in 2020. Most airlines use passenger self-service as a way to cut costs by reducing staff. Self-tagging kiosks reduce lines in the airport exponentially and allow crew members to get out from behind the podium to interact with customers in a meaningful way.
While some dealers embraced this approach, a massive opportunity remains. New research from IHS Markit finds 62% of consumers now expect a simplified process at the dealership, with 46% expecting to complete their entire transaction online. Despite this, 41% of surveyed buyers report their dealership did not offer an online purchasing option.
It’s important to note while consumers are seeking online options for transactional touchpoints like configuration, price negotiation and financing, the physical dealership experience remains relevant. The previously mentioned study found 79% of all surveyed consumers test drove their vehicle prior to purchase, and 69% of those consumers test drove at the dealership. The business of selling cars, after all, is a very relationship-based business. However, every industry can benefit from the digitalization of purely operational procedures.
As an increasing number of buyers expect both online experiences and convenient in-person options, these tools help dealerships adapt their omnichannel sales model and improve efficiency in a number of ways, including:
- Understand your audience. Use digital tools to analyze customer and dealership data to understand buying preferences and find opportunities to improve your sales process. Look beyond basic sales numbers and examine metrics like per-sale profit and marketing ROI to find new ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
- Simplify and digitize. Get rid of the clipboard and begin entering data directly into your CRM or DMS. Skipping the manual entry saves time and resources while improving the customer experience. Using text and email reminders to augment direct mailers can also cut costs and align with new customer preferences.
- Plan ahead. Use predictive technologies to review customers’ needs ahead of time to determine how to focus your resources in coming months, including lease ends, maintenance and even new car sales.
- Empower your team. While dealership employees are taking on extra work right now, it’s important to recognize their contribution to your overall growth. Use data and analysis tools to track individual sales performance and reward those who meet their goals. Use this data to understand what’s working and what’s not and to find ways to maximize new opportunities by overcoming past challenges.
The pandemic has proven you can’t just use people to solve problems. With tight margins and inventory demand challenges, working within your means is crucial to continued success. This means using modern, data-driven tools that integrate with and empower existing processes to meet new consumer expectations.
With growth comes change, and vice versa. As previously mentioned, creating relationships with customers is still an important part of the dealership experience, but dealers must embrace data and technology to automate the parts of the car buying process that don’t absolutely require human interaction.
By embracing digitalization, dealers can manage their businesses more efficiently while simultaneously providing an excellent experience that meets consumers’ wants and needs.
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