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I recently read an article published on Edmunds.com that stated in 2012 the average time it took to complete the automotive purchase process was 4.3 hours. I’m sure we’ve all seen many instances where it was much longer. The article went on to make suggestions on how to make the process faster – remember the title to your trade, driver’s license, proof of insurance, clean out your trade, etc. The last suggestion made me laugh. Bring snacks and refreshments so you don’t get woozy from hunger while you are signing your paperwork in the finance office. Seriously? With the technology available to us in 2014, there is no reason our customers should need to pack nourishment and sustenance like they are preparing for a natural disaster just to consummate a car deal.
In part one, “The Inflatable Gorilla? Really?” I discussed how critical and simple it is to design your processes to cater to today’s consumers and how they want to shop. Timely and relevant advertising that efficiently delivers relevant information or offers based on consumers’ shopping patterns, where they are in the process and most importantly, the channels in which they want to communicate.
Now, let’s assume that customers are finding it easy to shop with you. Great! Now how easy is it for them to buy from you?
I promised to revisit mobile in this installment. As important as mobile is to today’s shopping process, it is becoming equally as important in the buying process. Not only has mobile technology made it easier for consumers to buy without ever leaving the comfort of their homes, but it has also made the selling process easier for us as an industry. If the selling process is easier and more efficient for us, doesn’t it make sense that it would translate to a better experience for our customers?
Does your digital strategy make it easy for customers to buy from you online? First and foremost, your website must be responsive. Your customers must have the optimal viewing experience regardless of what device they are using if they are expected to be able to navigate to the various pages required to view inventory, submit a credit application, value their trade, make an offer, or instantly chat with you about any of the above. And yes, they should be able to do all of those things from your website. R.L. Polk says that about 10 percent of all new vehicle sales are attributed to online transactions and that percentage will grow exponentially. So be ready for it!
Do you have a consumer-facing mobile app? Your customers should be able to do everything we just talked about without having to visit your website. You heard me right. If they have ever purchased a vehicle or done business in your service drive, why wouldn’t you want to make it easy for them to stay loyal to your dealership? With the tap of their screen they can schedule an oil change, search inventory, value their trade, or make a lease or retail purchase offer. You should also be offering sales and service incentives through this channel, and linking to your incentive program, making it hard for your customers to deny the benefits of their continued loyalty.
Does your CRM have a mobile app that improves the customer experience? Of course your CRM makes your life easier. With all of your customer information at your disposal, marketing tools that can find any segment of that customer base and reach them instantaneously, dashboards that keep managers organized and hold everyone accountable, reporting that proves (or disproves) the ROI of every vendor you use and every campaign you run, and so much more we can barely believe we did business without CRM, right? Well, mobile CRM has taken that to the next level, improving efficiency for the entire dealership and therefore your customers.
Most CRMs will offer a mobile and VIN scanners allowing you to upload these items directly into the CRM using your mobile device without ever leaving the customer’s side. And the days of back and forth between the desk and customers to negotiate price and terms are long gone. If you are still using this antiquated process in your dealership, I recommend you rethink your strategy. With mobile desking, your desk managers can communicate from the CRM to the salesperson through mobile devices allowing them to present professional pricing proposals without wearing a path in the carpet.
Ask yourselves if you are, in any piece of your processes, choosing blind dedication to tradition over functionality. Is there anything you can do, is there any technology available to you that speeds up the process for you and your customers? The meet and greet, the needs and assessment qualification, the walk-around, the write-up – all of the steps on the road to the sale have changed. You may get pushback on this concept from the veterans, or you may be the one pushing back, but it does not change the facts. Your customers will not stand for an in-store process that takes them back 20 years. Chances are they researched you and your competitors online, sent in a lead, scheduled an appointment and found your location all by using their tablet or smartphone. So what might their reaction be to your sales process if it involves a Sharpie and a photocopied 4-square? Think about how the use of technology can turn your sales staff into true state-of-the-art, cutting-edge sales professionals. If you don’t honestly feel that technology can accomplish this, then talent acquisition may be a process in and of itself that needs to be examined.
Until next time…