Whose voice is that? It kind of sounds like me, but it’s not the voice I expected. Go ahead and record your voice. I’m sure there’s an app for that. As you talk, the sound created by your vocal cords travels not only through the air to your inner ear, but also through your bones and tissues directly to your cochlea. When you listen to your voice recorded, you only hear the over-the-air signal and lose out on all that bass from your bones. The recording gives you the awareness of what your voice actually sounds like to other people.
How you THINK you sound and how you ACTUALLY sound are rarely the same. The equivalent can be said of advertising your vehicles on the Internet.
- “I think my entire inventory is online all the time.” (Have you checked recently?)
- “My vendor comes out twice a week to photograph my cars. Of course all of my recent trades have photos online.” (Do they?)
- “I spent all morning re-pricing my aged units. Get ready for those leads!” (Did those updates appear on all of my sites?)
Following the same vehicle preparation regiment consistently will foster an environment for getting vehicles online quickly. However, it’s important not to allow for complacency to set in and sacrifice quality for the sake of speed.
Dealers spend enormous time and resources on perfecting an online presence. When a recent trade hits the lot it will be washed, photographed, priced, and a description gets written too. This is a significant amount of work for a single vehicle. As car dealers, we perform those tasks every day, every week, and every year on thousands of vehicles.
All of this work is put in with a singular goal in mind…To Sell The Car! Just as your voice sounds different to everyone else, your online ad may also be received differently than what you intended. The Internet savvy car shopper is on average spending over eleven hours online and views hundreds of ads before deciding to step foot in a dealership.
KNOW what your customers see online about your dealership. Search for your vehicles like a consumer would and see if they look like you expected.
- Is the inventory accurate?
- What does the website look like on a mobile phone?
- Is the pricing consistent among all the sites?
- How do the photos look?
- Does the vehicle description highlight the value and option packages that set this vehicle apart from the competition?
Taking the time to perform this check will ensure that your online inventory is presented with the same level of care as the vehicles on your showroom floor. Keeping a vigilant ear to the Internet train tracks will let you hear that small rumbling and give you time to make corrections before that freight train comes through.
Do you hear that clicking sound? Sounds like a sweet symphony of customers clicking on your ads!
Liars, Shady, Dishonest, Crooks! No, I’m not talking about our current political candidates; I’m talking about the perception of how customers feel about car dealerships. Now hold on, before you get angry with me, I’m just telling you one of the latest Gallup survey says 91% of people have absolutely no trust in the car buying process. People would rather have all of their wisdom teeth removed over buying the latest and greatest in the automotive industry. Think about the pleasure of having a drill, rubber mallet, and a suction hose in your mouth for about three hours or buying a car. What have we done? How have we gotten in this place?
Now sprinkle in that the number one driving force in the immediate future will be the mythical creature known as the millennial. See this creature doesn’t have enough time to brew a cup of coffee, but would rather pay five bucks for it at the local coffee shop because it’s the cool thing to do. They have no patience so companies like Amazon are now delivering things via drones so that they can get it faster. Here is the scariest part of this creature; it is highly educated and has a strong alliance with an even bigger monster named Google. Before visiting a dealership, consumers have more knowledge than most car dealers, thanks to the great Google. Once a millennial visits a dealership, they arrive in a suit of armor prepared to battle with their favorite weapon, the iPhone which is equipped with about 2,345 car apps, 17 competitor websites, and a link to the “car guy” in the family.
I am one of those millennials who researches things just to research because one day I might buy one. I’m one of those millennials that, instead of walking three feet to my thermostat, I would rather use my phone app. I think Starbucks is the best invention since the coffee bean, and I think Amazon is the answer to achieving world peace. I am an ultra-millennial!
Now I’m sure that you are reading this you’re saying who is this guy and why does he think he can say these things about the sales process. A large portion of my professional automotive experience comes from working for the largest used car automotive retailer in the United States. While there, one of the things I learned was people would rather pay more than to go elsewhere. More times than not, the vehicle was priced more than the local guy across the street, or they had a better sales team. My mind would work overtime to try and figure out why a person knowingly would spend more elsewhere?
And then I finally figured out the answer…. Because it was easy! Easy meaning it’s transparent, so I understand what it is I’m paying for.
Find a way to make it easier. Grosses aren’t eroding on their own – we are eroding them by pushing sales through discounts. Figure out how to connect with customers so they don’t feel that they are being ripped off.
One final secret about millennials – if they trust you, they will buy from you again. They want to be able to text you what they want and then just show up and sign their paperwork.
So now that I have told you the problem and given you the solution, how will you become better than my dentist?
We can do “everything” from our phone – from the ability to order food, get a cab, check the weather, monitor our health, play games, take pictures, monitor the security of our homes and so much more. So what about buying a car?
The average user spends considerable time and effort doing research before they ever set foot on a car lot. They a researching not only what vehicles they want to consider, but financing options and things that relate to price like incentives and special offers. The last thing they want to do is have to rely on a car salesperson to be their sole source of education as the profession is the second least trustworthy only to politicians.
Sources for research go beyond Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and include third party content that can be pulled from all over – from news aggregators, publications or even third party marketplaces. But dealerships are an important source too. While car salespeople may not be deemed as trustworthy, their websites are seen as more impartial and thus are considered more trustworthy.
A growing trend is “showrooming”. It’s when prospective buyers use their mobile device to look for similar vehicles. The prospective buyer is looking to see if there is something else they want – a different vehicle, dealership or price. This is the worst possible scenario for a dealership – it’s akin to walking off the lot and going elsewhere but can be done in an instant. It’s not a concept unique to the automotive industry; it’s common throughout the retail industry.
Did you know more than 3 out of 5 consumers (60%) who used a mobile device while shopping at a dealership visited a competitor within 24 hours? So what’s a dealership to do? Provide the best possible digital experience. Does this mean the ability to buy a car right from your phone? I think it does. But not everyone is ready for that; look at how long it took some people to adopt smartphones… but the interim steps of providing a mobile-friendly website, text capabilities, chat, etc. aren’t just nice to have, they are table steaks.
It’s important to slow down when it comes to the appraisal and trade process. This is a pivotal point in retaining gross profits since customers buy when the value of the vehicle exceeds its price. What are you doing at your location to stock your inventory based on the value of a trade? It’s one of the top 3 factors in any car deal, and in most cases, trade-in vehicles are the lifeline to a profitable used car department. Top dealers I work with source more than 50% of their retail inventory from trades and the profitable ones have taken the process to another level.
- Be consistent: From start to finish, each appraisal and trade experience should be the same for every customer and vehicle. Skipping steps leads to lost gross and a missed opportunity.
- Slow down and inspect your potential investment: “Buyers are liars” and they are certainly not going to tell you about the bad transmission or the repair work they had to the entire side of their vehicle. There’s a reason they are trading in. Don’t miss the bad transmission or the high repair bill in the glove box.
- Listen: You’d be amazed at what a customer will tell you about their car if you ask them. This level of engagement builds trust and value in your process and in the trade in offer.
- Sell the offer: Customers need to know you are aware of the nuggets that make their car special. Have a process in place that explains how you determine a trade in offer and what factors you consider when making that offer.
- Just buy it! Offer to buy a car from the customer whether they buy a car from you or not. Become their local expert. You’d be amazed how many friends that customer will tell about their experience and the traffic it can drive to the dealership.
We talk all the time about how 79% of customers buy on value. The trade in process is no different. Build value in your inspection process and customer offer. Spend the extra time closing more trades and selling more cars than at the auction this fall paying too much for cars that other dealers could not sell.