There is no doubt that auto dealers today have a dizzying array of challenges and marketing channel confusion. More media channels, the pressure to maximize digital marketing, and to buy-into the next shiny VDP traffic promise is all very alluring. The trend I see in most stores is an adaption of the “inertia marketing strategy.” That is dealers, rather than wade into some new uncharted waters will stick with what they’ve been doing for the last thirty years.
While there is no shortage of “experts” telling dealers how they need to run their business on this site and other auto networking sites, until you are actually in the shoes of an owner or general manager you really don’t understand the pressures they deal with every day. I just want to share what my previous boss called, "A blinding glimpse of the obvious."
Let’s just look at things from the perspective of the customer and glean some insights that might help us build better relationships and grow our revenues.
No Customer Ever Said: “I shopped around at a few dealerships but this one had the largest inflatable gorilla, so I bought the car here.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I was just stopped in to pick up a brochure, but when I smelled the popcorn, I just had to buy a vehicle.”
No Customer Ever Said: “No I didn’t mind pressing “1” if I was a new customer or “2” if I was an existing customer, I’m sure you have your reasons for treating people differently.”
No Customer Ever Said: “The service department is okay, but I really bring my truck in for service because the coffee at the dealership is so good!”
No Customer Ever Said: “I was so happy to see that their website looked just like every other website I visited; it just made me feel comfortable and I knew I would have an average car buying experience.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I was just driving by and saw this inflatable tube type wavy arm guy and just had to stop in and buy a vehicle.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I went to their website and saw all 5 star reviews, so since everybody loves them, and they’re perfect, I thought I would buy there too.”
No Customer Ever Said: “Honey, I never saw so many balloons on cars. We have to buy a car right now.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I love spending time in the customer lounge and the smell of tires doesn’t give me a headache anymore.”
No Customer Ever Said: “As soon as I walked in the showroom I knew it would be a great customer experience.” (Note: This is the “About Us” boilerplate text on a gazillion dealer websites.)
No Customer Ever Said: “Hey Ralph, lets buy a car here, the salesman said he wanted to earn our business.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I just had to buy a car here. Your TV commercial with that fat guy yelling about all your deals just got me so excited I rushed right down to buy a new car.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I enjoy reading all your helpful and informative posts on Facebook, and knew you were the place where I wanted to buy a car.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I was sure I had the lucky number to win that 60” Television, but since I didn’t, and I’m here, I may as well buy a car.”
No Customer Ever Said: “I used your contact form on the website and enjoyed spending 15 minutes to enter all my personal information just to ask you a simple question. And no I didn’t mind those 25 follow up calls from your salesman.”
No Customer Ever Said: “Sure, I don’t mind waiting 40 minutes while you try and find the keys and get gas for the car I want to test drive. I’ll just have some more of your wonderful coffee.”
No Customer Ever Said: “It’s nice to see all new sales people every three months. I guess it keeps things fresh.”
Putting ourselves in the customer’s seat gives us some amazing and obvious insights. Improvements to a business location or process are oftentimes very simple to implement and there are a great number of resources to help dealers on limited marketing budgets to expand their business and avoid the clichés of the past. Just because you might be a small town dealer doesn’t mean you have to be locked into small town thinking.
Just tap into some new or sometimes old fashioned strategies to build relationships and expand your business.