As we continue to navigate these turbulent times, it is critical that we recognize the opportunities that represent possible avenues for success. Today it’s obvious, the auto industry isn’t immune to disruption. Sometimes it is good….sometimes it is bad. Together, we must focus on how to maximize these opportunities and turn challenges into victories. Mike Cavanaugh, Executive Vice President for MAX Digital, reflects on the current state of the world and the industry, and examines how technology can disrupt dealerships and help them sell more vehicles while providing a better customer experience. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
First, focusing specifically on the changing role of BDC during COVID-19, it is paramount that we acknowledge that the days of having a call center has dramatically changed. Expectations have risen and consumers want dealers to have experts on staff who are not only knowledgeable about inventory and the sales process, but can also assist with various tech-related questions including how to use any of the tools available on the website.
In order to get to that place, your BDC needs to be staffed with the right talent. And that talent needs to be equipped with the right tools for success. Coupling an expert who can build trust with the consumer with a strong technology capable of delivering robust information quickly turns your BDC staff into customer experience experts who have a customer service mindset. In doing so, you create a true omnichannel experience that empowers your employees to be as successful as possible.
At the end of the day, business will continue to trend more and more online. As a result, dealership processes need to match consumer demand. The roles of employees will continue to evolve and change, but this doesn’t mean there is no longer a place for the traditional salesperson. The new omnichannel equipped BDC allows for the role to transform into a trusted advisor. The ways of the past will eventually go away, but for now, this hybrid approach helps you to best utilize the skillsets of your employees.
I’ve been asked if people will want to come back to the showroom post-COVID-19 or will they remain virtual (check out our recent poll for more insights). As it stands, AutoNation has reported that 45% of their sales came online. Asbury reported 20%. And with Carvana continuing to grow and Lithia announcing the launch of their Driveway brand to serve consumers outside the traditional sales process, all signs point to a new world of digital retailing. This can be a more efficient, more profitable model.
But today, you need both. The J.D. Power U.S. New Autoshopper Study a couple of months back stated that north of 43% of people said they wanted to buy a car online, but 90% still went into a physical showroom. Inline with that, MAX Digital surveyed dealers and discovered that 87% of used car buyers were still comfortable with visiting the dealership. While the role of salespeople and showrooms are changing, the fact remains that the dominant process includes both today.
The best place to start on modernizing a dealership toward digital retailing is by committing time and energy to create a well-planned BDC or internet department. Staff it with the right people and focus commitment on the long term. As in all things, it’s possible to achieve wild success or to fail miserably. Focusing on truly delivering an enhanced customer experience makes wild success more likely. Go beyond the stereotypical and gear the buying journey around product expertise and a simplified purchase process that makes it easy to buy. Keep in mind, consumers remember every touchpoint with a dealership. Invest in ambassadors who demonstrate in all they do to establish why a consumer should buy from your dealership.
See Mike’s full interview with Jim Fitzpatrick of CBT News to hear why your BDC is more important than ever.