Dealerships today operate in an environment where the consumer experience is a driving factor in dealership selection. Ecommerce and other third-party disruptors are impacting customer expectations. Additionally, margins have compressed. There isn’t much room left for dealers to go.
With this as a reality today, efficiency becomes one way to maintain profitability and meet customer demands.
Dealerships have a distinct advantage over online-only retailers. You have inventory for customers to view and staff on hand to answer any customer questions. This has immense value. The key is refining your process, maintaining these differentiators while streamlining the transaction.
How can you leverage efficiency to accomplish this? Here are some simple questions you can push your process through to gauge its efficiency.
Can you reduce the time it takes to complete your process? We’ve all seen studies on the impact time has on your profitability and customer satisfaction. Where can you eliminate areas in your process that add time and reduce trust?
In my dealership experience, getting a deal approved and waiting for finance were two areas that took a lot of time. There was typically a bottleneck in front of the finance office. Obviously, dealers need that finance gross today. But how can you speed up the process without sacrificing that back-end?
Can you reduce duplication? What do I mean? Customers are doing a lot of research online. Can you move some of the offline steps that take time and let customers complete them in the comfort of their own homes? In your process, can you identify and acknowledge those completed steps and pick up where they’ve left off?
This is one thing that drives me crazy about the doctor’s office. I don’t visit often, but do I have to fill out that clipboard every time? Don’t they have my information?
Also, few things frustrate a customer more than providing redundant information. If a customer completes steps online, asking them to repeat them when they get to the store doesn’t help build trust. And it’s very inefficient.
This requires a responsive sales process and salespeople who can identify customer needs and expectations. You’ll need salespeople that aren’t robots.
Training can improve your efficiencies. Too often, strategies that are engineered into the sales process aren’t communicated and trained with the team. Salespeople don’t know what to do or why the change is being made.
Can your sales process reduce the steps salespeople need to do? Are there steps that you’ve always done that you can remove and still provide a good experience while maintaining your margins?
I think this is always a good question to ask. You may find there are steps that have no impact on the final outcome. Or maybe you can automate tasks to increase speed. Is it possible that steps can be completed simultaneously to reduce the amount of time customers take?
I’m not saying that customers should be in and out in an hour. I’m saying that your process makes it possible that they could be out that fast. Customers should be the ones that direct the amount of time necessary, not the salesperson or the dealership.
I challenge you to audit your process and ask yourself how you can make it more efficient. Efficiency is going to become more and more important as the retail evolves, and it puts you in a better position to improve your profitability.