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Following tremendous pressure from the NHTSA, Takata has expanded the recall on its faulty airbags. In fact, it just doubled the number of vehicles that are subject to recall to 34 million – that’s one in seven vehicles on the road today – and the largest recall in automotive history. Since then, consumers have been flooding the NHTSA website, searching to see whether their vehicles are affected. In fact, according to an article in Automotive News, daily website traffic increased by 62 times -- to an incredible 598,000 searches, up from 9,662 per day. Consumers want answers and, once they get them, they’ll be looking to dealers to help them.
Be prepared for a large surge in recall-related questions and ensure that you have answers for your customers. Due to the incredible volume and the reported shortage of parts, there is not much dealers can do to expedite parts orders to handle these issues. But, most consumers will want their vehicles fixed as soon as possible, perhaps fearing for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.
That being said, apparently it is going to take years to handle all the vehicles involved in this recall. I am sure there will be many customers unwilling to drive a vehicle that has a faulty airbag for months, let alone years. They will therefore search for an alternative – namely, a new vehicle.
When recalls happen, it is certainly wise for dealers to reach out to every customer in their market to inform, educate and try to earn the recall work. However, when repairs are in short supply and a dealership knows it won’t be able to accommodate customers, that dealership may want to consider offering solutions that are designed to replace the customer’s existing vehicle with a new one.
Conquest marketing is certainly not a new thing. Many dealers, however, don’t consider open recalls as an opportunity to generate vehicle sales, only one in which to acquire additional service business. These two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. A properly designed and executed recall marketing strategy can be an effective sales tool. Targeting vehicle owners affected by recalls that are known to have a parts shortage can be an effective marketing campaign. This is the perfect opportunity for an aggressive dealer to present options to these customers on how they can trade-in their existing vehicles.
The bottom line is that if a consumer is unwilling to wait for their vehicle to be repaired, they will most likely have started searching for a new vehicle. By marketing to these consumers, chances are that your dealership will be the first to reach out and contact them on this matter. This could give you a head start on your competition.