Follow consumer attention
Remember the times when having the best billboard, the largest inflatable gorilla, or the best selection of stock was enough to get the consumers attention and start them heading into your dealership?
Remember when the marketplace was saturday mornings, as in-market-car-shoppers would walk the pavements. Visiting car dealership after car dealership. While these things still work, much less, consumer attention has shifted. The internet has happened and captured the car buying consumers attention more than anything else.
As a result, car buying customer expectations have changed where the marketplace is. In-market-car-shoppers now have more options, they do more online research. They now expect the best online experience of your car dealership before they will even consider stepping onto your floor.
In fact, no matter the industry, the car dealership included, businesses need to deeply understand their customers’ journey to their product. Play where the consumer attention is. And then deliver a unique experience to stand out online, before the consumer will even put the product or business into their consideration set.
6 tips that can make your car dealership different from the rest:
While this seems obvious, you have no idea how many car dealerships I visit fail at this simple gesture. Greet your customer, every one of them, everytime. If you can/know, greet the customer by name, asking specific questions. Make the conversation about them, not you. Ask why you were fortunate enough to be visited by them. Offer a smile, everytime, even if you’re having a bad day. This small thing will go a long way to build trust and rapport with your customers.
Remember – people don’t always remember what you say, they always remember how you made them feel!
You won’t believe how the perception of a clean and tidy car dealership affects the perception of a customer. With most of the car buying journey moving online, customers now spend less time inside dealerships. Don’t leave the sparkly dealership to the new car dealership. To the customer, that used car is their “new car” and putting them in a fresh, clean, open and bright environment sends positive messages to the senses.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh, real, ground coffee, especially in the morning. I’m sure you remember the days we all used to go to the “movies”. The smell of popcorn garners happy memories. These little delights don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Even a small but cold bottle of water on a warm day.
Some car dealers that I’ve visited differentiate themselves by offering simple loyalty programs to keep the customer coming back. Think outside the proverbial box. Offer value added extras that keep the car buying customer coming back time and again, even between changing cars.
This one is close to my heart. The internet, especially in the world of car buying, has created 2 things. Transparency of information but on the other hand, consumer anonymity. The reason, all consumers (and you are a consumer too) want more transparency. Doing business in a cloak an dagger world is long a thing of the past. We can no longer hide from the customer. Focusing on taking transparency to the next level in your car dealership could just create more trust in your customers mind. An example would be, in the past a consumer didn’t know if their car was being worked on or taken out for a joy-ride. Smart dealerships are creating more transparent viewable work areas where clients can see what is being done. In an industry, especially used cars, that has too often been questioned for its integrity, a great way to differentiate is to leave nothing to your customers’ imagination.
Bring these services back into your car dealership
This one isn’t for every car dealership but worth a mention. In days gone by (“the good ol days” lol). Car dealerships provided other products and services, like: batteries, shocks, exhausts and tyres. Along came the “specialists” who competed on price and volume. And very quickly, these services were no longer inside the dealership. I’d like to see the car dealership take their domain back. Today’s forward-thinking dealership will find a way to beat the “specialists” or even beat them. Even if the offering is a loss leader, it’s a brilliant way to build customer loyalty and feed future car buys and service departments.