As it stands today, you’d be hard pressed to find a customer who looks forward to their dealership experience. Most showrooms have not ‘kept up with the times’ in terms of service, technology, or even expertise. It’s a universal challenge, that even as the functionality and innovation of the cars themselves improve, the experience of buying the car remains clunky, slow and frustrating.

As cars improve in ride, reliability, safety, and other positive markers, the dichotomy between the desired and actual customer experience when owners come in to have their cars serviced only becomes more stark. – Forbes

While manufacturers are racing to beat competitors in the realm of autonomous driving, predictive servicing and more, most brands have failed to nail down the basics of customer experience. Many (if not most) dealerships are still riddled with clunky, disconnected back-end solutions, causing a directly correlated disconnect in the showroom.

 

Heading into 2019, there are a few basics dealerships need to get right in order to compete & keep their customers.

 

1. Familiarity

Everyone wants to be recognised and appreciated – it’s a fundamental human desire. Yet many dealership sales consultants struggle to remember who came into the showroom last week, who’s previously enquired, and even more – who has previously purchased.

 

Imagine this – you are making your biggest purchase of the year, from the same company you bought a few years back, and they have no idea who you are. Much less what your preferences are.

 

Now we aren’t expecting every sales consultant to have photographic memory, however, every sales team should be equipped with a pocket CRM to retrieve necessary information quickly and succinctly. A simple technology fix could make customers feel appreciated and valued.

 

“People like doing business with companies they connect with personally, with companies they trust,” she continues, “Sure, price is a factor, and your company must demonstrate its value and be competitive, but, believe me, that is the easy part.” – Forbes

 

As a sales manager, evaluate how your sales consultants make their Leads and returning customers feel. Do they have the right technology to capture online enquiries, showroom visits, service appointments & previous sales history? We can’t expect sales consultants to keep it all in their heads – we must give them the tools to enable a valued & appreciated customer experience. By tapping into human emotion with a few basic sales techniques, Leads will be much more inclined to buy from you rather than the Dealer down the road. 

 

2. Knowledge & Expertise

Going into 2019, customers expect something from dealers they can’t find online: knowledge and expertise.

 

In a time of infinite knowledge at our fingertips – sales consultants will need to go the extra mile to win over incoming Leads. A Mckinsey study showed that over 40 percent of customers rank product expertise as the most important element of a dealer consultation. Customers expect sales consultants to keep up-to-date with pricing & variations of every car, along with expertise on how it compares to other vehicles, available add-ons, and so on. Sales consultants should know every vehicle they’re selling like the back of their hand.

 

“As customers increasingly collect general information online, dealers are ever more being viewed as an advanced ‘second-level support’ for questions and doubts that neither the online configurator, the OEM Web site, nor the various car forums or third-party Web sites are sufficiently able to clarify,” advises McKinsey.

 

The challenge in this is that, even in 2019, up-to-date product information can be hard to come by in many showrooms. Many sales consultants do not have on-hand tools to inform them of up-to-date pricing, stock availability or add-on variations. Again, this is simple fix that can lead to drastic improvements in customers’ experience.

 

Sales managers, take a look at the tools your sales consultants are using. Can they access mobile dashboards of real-time inventory stock, pricing, availability, & add-ons in a pinch? Furthermore, how well do they know each and every vehicle? Compared to competitor vehicles? 

 

Advanced sales & CRM tools on the market today can help sales manager empower their sales consultants with information & support. Transforming salespeople into trusted advisors who provide deep technical and market expertise, will become a competitive advantage for brands throughout the year. 

 

3. Quick appointments

Tomorrow’s customers will see time as the ultimate luxury. That’s why it’s crucial that sales consultants be obsessive about making showroom appointments & sales transactions as short and efficient as possible. From follow up times to efficient paperwork, there are a few basics dealerships can tweak heading into the new year.

 

At first impression, dealers should set the tone for what their customers can expect the experience to be. This is evident in lead response time and follow ups. How quickly do Leads hear from one of your sales consultants? If it’s anymore than a few hours, there’s a good chance you’re losing a considerable amount of customers off the bat.

 

Remember – customers have already learned to dread the showroom experience. A slow response to their online enquiry shows a lack of urgency, motivation or even care to assist them in making their big purchase.

 

Dealerships that set goals for lead-response time and monitor this with tools and technology, as well as incentivize their team to beat goals, simply sell more cars. -Adpearance

 

 

Sales managers must ensure the proper technology in their showroom allows lead enquiries to be acted on as quickly as possible. The ideal solution automatically assigns Leads to sales consultants for immediate follow up. The solution should then force a follow up action to ensure every Lead is cared for in a timely manner. If your technology does enable this functionality, it may be time to look at alternative solutions.

 

In an age of instant gratification, online shopping & Google at our fingertips, immediate response and follow up will be crucial to a customer’s decision-making process. 

 

Another crucial element of time management is the time it takes to complete a sales transaction. This comes down to efficient processes, less paperwork, & more digitalised solutions. At Test Drive, are licenses scanned from a tablet or phone.. or does the customer have to wait for you to dabble with paperwork and clunky scanner. At Financing, can sales consultants retrieve finance options with a quick, mobile calculator? Or do customers have to complete more paperwork and wait longer. When it comes time to sign the deal, are all papers and signatories stored in a digitalised, easy-to-retrieve place? Or are you running around to different departments trying to pull everything together -while your customers wait. 

Conclusion

Going into 2019, customers will unquestionably expect more and more from their automotive dealership. While dealerships have a limit to  their control over vehicle functionality, stock, & pricing, the crucial factor they can control is a customer’s experience. Manufacturers will continue to focus on innovative and advanced new technologies for the vehicles, while sales managers must do the same for the dealership.

 

Do you have the tools and processes in place to exceed targets and customers’ expectations in 2019?

 

Take our customer experience assessment or get in touch.