We have just lived through a wild week. From a dramatic fall on Wall Street bringing us to the brink of a bull market to several national, and worldwide, companies ordering their employees to work from home over fears of the Coronavirus to trouble over crude in the Middle East, many of us have been left reeling.
In this week alone I have fielded several calls from concerned partners and customers who have shared fears of an impending recession. Our discussions have run the gamut, but the overriding question continues to be, what do we do now?
My simple answer? Double down.
We are at a time in the automotive industry where customers will become even more discriminating with where they spend their dollars and it is more important than ever to differentiate yourself. While we all should be good stewards of ways to provide extra value when times are good, it is paramount to show value when times are uncertain.
A current estimate by market researchers at Adobe Analytics shows demand for hand sanitizer has gone up 1,400 percent from December to January. Take a lesson from hand sanitizer companies and jump in to show the value of your product now.
How do You Sell Value Over Price?
In retail automotive, no dealership has a unique advantage in new car franchise products, prices or financing. Dealers get the same cars from the manufacturer, pay the same amount to the factory to receive them, and have the same options to finance them for customers. Dealers also share the same resources to evaluate and price their pre-owned inventory, so, no real advantage there either. Where is the advantage? In the offering of ancillary products to show your customers value over price.
For example, your store might offer attractive value-adds like free oil changes and car washes, a 72-hour exchange program or a lifetime power train warranty.
One of the best opportunities a dealership has to separate itself while ensuring a purchased vehicle’s reliability is through the warranties it offers. But what dealers offer and how aggressive they are in promoting it says a lot about their priorities.
Actively Promote Your Value Culture
The goal is to have the customer see that value is not just a bullet point in your sales conversation, but a viable part of the deal. For example, if you offer a lifetime warranty product, let them know the advantage of performing the maintenance at your dealership, but that they can get their vehicle maintained anywhere, and show them how to use a maintenance log. Remind them to keep good records and bring those records back to your store. Make it easy for them to schedule and receive service.
Don’t Forget Training!
One important area not to be overlooked is training. Yes, you should absolutely be training for culture and ensuring your employees know that what you’re selling right now is value. And not just once. If you don’t train, and continue to train on your culture, whatever you expect will not be happening. Train on your culture as often as needed to ensure it weaves itself into the fabric of your staff’s daily activity.
Finally, Don’t Give In to a Fear-Based System
We have been here before, (anyone remember 2008?) and we have survived. We will come through these latest headlines, stronger, smarter and more valuable than ever to the customers we serve. If we keep value top of mind through all of the ups and downs, we can’t lose.
David Adcock is the Executive Vice President of Binary Automotive Solutions, a leading provider of customized programs designed to help dealerships sell more vehicles. He can be reached at David.Adcock@binaryauto.com.