Your car dealership can’t stick to the same old playbook if it wants to protect its profit margin. The digital era has changed the game, and customers are already playing without you. If you can’t adapt to using real-time data in your sales process, you’re looking at a shutout.
The numbers are telling.
- 90% of people research cars online before visiting a dealership (J.D. Power’s 2014 New Autoshopper Study)
- Car buyers visit 9.3 different websites – a combination of OEM, third party, and dealership sites (Autotrader’s 2015 Key Car Buyer Strats)
- More than half of your customers use a mobile device to research competitor pricing on vehicles from your showroom floor (2015 New Autoshopper Study)
In 2016, your goal as a car dealer is to capture the attention of your customers. You need them to notice your dealership, notice your inventory, and notice the car they want to buy without getting lured away by promises of a better deal.
How do you do that?
The key is a transparent and consistent sales process informed by real-time data and analytics.
Real-Time Data Makes Your Sales Process Fair and Transparent
Car buyers are only going to get smarter, and if you want to have a healthy turnover in your inventory while boosting your margin, you need to stay one step ahead.
Each part of your process will benefit from data management and application. We want to help you visualize that process and understand why real-time data is so important, starting with acquisition and moving through pricing, merchandising, and sales.
How do you find out which cars customers are buying? How do you find out which cars they want to buy?
We have two questions and two angles to approach from, but the answer to both is an effective use of data.
When determining your core inventory, it’s most helpful to examine your store’s historical data. We can pull numbers directly from your dealership management system to find out how many of a given model you sell, as well as how that car’s pricing has held up over time. This data will show us what your best-selling models are and which cars make you the most money.
You might be able to draw some of your own conclusions just by looking at your DMS, but MAXDigital can remove all doubt. We also give you an extra leg up by bringing current market data into the mix.
In addition to your core inventory, we can help you expand your suggested inventory based on cars that are selling well in your region. A combination of your historical best sellers and your market’s current best sellers will give you the kind of stock that will bring internet shoppers to your website from all over.
Our stocking tools let you get as granular as you want, and you have every reason to do so. With customers researching specific features across a range of models, you want the cars on your lot to be as enticing as possible.
You don’t need to guess when you look at the data. Find out which trim levels, packages, and colors are the most popular for your featured models, and make sure you work those into your inventory.
Maybe you’re located in a northern state. Better load up on cars with a cold-weather option package. You could be down south instead, so you’ll want to make sure you load up on models with an available sunroof.
What you need won’t be obvious until you’ve seen the numbers to back it up.
Of course knowing what you need is one thing. Getting those cars at the right price is the key. That’s why MAXDigital offers acquisition tools to keep you informed. Our cost-to-market appraisal tool helps dealerships like yours acquire cars at auction or trade-in. As we’ll discuss, it’s much easier to turn a car around when you know what it’s worth in the first place.
Real-time data also has an impact on how you price your vehicle. How else will you compete with the market average?
If you want your customers’ attention, you need to price the cars in your inventory at or near their market value. If you want customers to submit leads, your pricing needs to be fair and transparent.
Again, MAXDigital makes this easy thanks to our market-based pricing tools. You can compare pricing of recognized third-party authorities when setting the price of your cars, but we also help you achieve greater precision. Our tools ensure your prices reflect the value of each car’s trim level, equipment, and option package.
Two SUVs that are the same model should be priced differently if one has second-row captain’s chairs and the other one has a bench seat. Even more so if one has an upgraded sound system, heated seats, and a panoramic sunroof. If you don’t account for that difference in every car you sell, you’re forfeiting your own margin.
This is only possible because of the thorough and current market data you get when working with MAX. We let you set a fair price early, and we give you the data to back up that price later in the sales process.
If you need another reason to consider our inventory management and pricing tools, consider this: our link with your DMS also allows us to automatically update your new inventory pricing based on manufacturer discounts and incentives. We make it easier to display the true price of each car online.
There are two ways within the merchandising step of this process that you leverage real-time data.
The first way is by proving quality. One of the keys to effective merchandising is showing the customer that you are selling a quality product.
Cosmetics play a huge role in this step, which is why we make it easy for you to take and upload pictures of each car in your inventory. Customers want to see images of your cars, and the more you can show them the better. If they click on a vehicle detail page and only see “Vehicle photos coming soon…” they might not only back out of the page but back out of your site altogether.
With the MAX Mobile app, you can take and upload photos directly to your online listings as soon as a car hits your lot. Show off the special colors, the noteworthy features, and the options that will grab a buyer’s attention.
Customers will know what they’re looking at thanks to our optimized vehicle descriptions. Say goodbye to old-school “wall of text” VDPs. MAX puts all of the information your customers need into an easy-to-read layout so they can quickly discover a car’s key features, options packages, warranty information, and more.
All of this carries into the second way you can leverage data through merchandising, which is by establishing value. Our in-house research shows that customers doing their research online are searching for value. Online listings are your first opportunity to convince a buyer that this car is worth it.
You’ve already set the price of a car based on local listings. Now you need to use that market data to show your customers why that’s a good price. You do this by choosing features, options, and packages that make a car stand out. Pick the aspects of a car that make it the car for someone who is narrowing down their search results.
After that, MAX does a lot of the merchandising for you. We take the vehicle descriptions that we create and feed them to more than 300 websites, including Autotrader, Cars.com, and other stores within your dealership group. Our aim is to help you win at every point of interaction, so we funnel customers to your site from as far out in their own research process as we can.
We want people to see these pages because, in addition to the promoted features for the car, the MAX Content Generation Engine shows customers website value reports. These reports include data that emphasizes the value of doing business with your dealership. It might be details about your group’s unique service plan, personalized branding information, or details about how you achieve customer satisfaction.
Because of the high percentage of customers who are influenced by online reviews, we will also display your DealerRater score on each vehicle page.
If this sounds like the kind of resource you want to have on your lot, you’re in luck. Our software lets you create and print fully customizable window stickers for your cars. That way people who are browsing your inventory after hours or on a Sunday can access the most current information on any model.
Each of these window stickers has three ways for a customer to reach the vehicle description page:
- A QR code (if their phone has a scanner)
- A number that they can text and receive a link to that car’s listing
- A shortened URL that will direct them to the listing
Our window stickers are yet another way you can integrate real-time data into your strategy. Instead of putting a static number on the windshield, you can link customers to your website where the price is dynamically updated.
The best vehicle merchandising doesn’t overwhelm customers with information – it gives customers the information they need to see. If you know what that information is and can confirm it face-to-face, you’ll have an edge in the final step of the process.
All your hard work and preparation pays off when you get a new lead on a car you got through auction. Market research showed you that this model, a used midsize sedan, was popular in your area. On top of that, your dealership has a history with this model.
You plugged the VIN into the pricing tool, checked this model against its original MSRP and current market price, and set a fair price. You promote the car’s most noteworthy features: heated seats, all-wheel drive, and a sunroof.
When the customer shows up, he or she tries to talk you down from the price seen online, the price that is already discounted from what the market says this car is worth. This customer pulls out a phone and says a dealership across town has the same car for $2,000 less and asks if you will match that price.
What do you do?
You don’t want to fall into the trap of double discounting. If you drop the price from what your online listing showed, you’ll just be eating into your own margin, and that adds up.
With the power of MAXDigital, you can go back on the offensive and stop the drop.
If customers pull out their phone because they’ve been showrooming you, you can respond by pulling out your phone or your tablet and explaining why not: the car at your competitor’s store is not the same vehicle. That car doesn’t have heated seats or a sunroof, and it has a manual transmission. In fact, it’s a lower trim level than the car they’re looking at on your lot.
By using real-time data visualization, you can show your customers how your price compares to what the market is offering, as well as other sites like KBB. Confirm the value of the vehicle and show them the real deal they’re getting by doing business at your store.
The beauty of MAXDigital is that you can turn every member of your sales team into an expert. This sort of data in the palm of your hand makes it easy to stand your ground, but it only works if everyone is on the same page. Make sure your whole team understands your pricing strategy. If you need more explanation, we’re here to help.
Close the Loop with Real-Time Data Analytics from MAXDigital
Hopefully you’ve reached this point with a better understanding of the applications of real-time data for your dealership. Every sale you make creates a new data point that feeds back into the process, from sales back around to acquisition.
MAXDigital is the only provider that can give you this feedback loop. Our software and expertise applies this data to your store. We answer questions specific to your dealership and empower you to put those solutions into practice.
If you think we can help your dealership collect and integrate real-time data into your sales process, we encourage you to reach out to us. All of us at MAXDigital want to help you win over today’s digital consumers.