For a long time now, I have wondered how people ever bought a car without all the bells and whistles of a modern dealership. Since I have been alive, dealerships have grown from small modest stores into huge multi-acre lots full of cars, trucks and RVs. We think we are serving the needs of the customers, but are we really?
Once upon a time, you could mail order a car from Sears for a mere $395. They came with oil burning headlamps. But, you could upgrade to acetylene headlights for an extra $12. For those of you who don’t know, acetylene is a gas used for welding because it produces the hottest flame (up to 6330° F http://bit.ly/2oxwdBK). Sign me up for the car with the laser beam headlights! Not. Nowadays, cars can be equipped with ‘bio-defense’ filters, pressurized cabins, and yes, laser beam headlights http://bit.ly/2oCZydh. Maybe the first automakers weren’t so far off the mark.
The question at hand, is this what consumers really want? I am the number one fan of gadgets in vehicles and RVs. Heck, even my new travel trailer has under-glow lighting. How many times do you think I showed that off at the RV park?
I am a firm believer that we need to look at our history to see our future. Since the beginning of humanity, people seek a relationship. It’s a simple human instinct that often gets missed in the dealership when we sterilize the process with producing numbers and having awards to place on our walls.
Some of the most successful dealerships I work with the focus mainly on the consumer’s comfort. They respect the customer’s time, money, relationships, habits, opinions, and treat them like an old friend. This can be done in a multitude of ways but some of the best ideas I can throw at you are the following:
- Send your customers a thank you gift after they purchase a vehicle from you. I once bought a car from a local dealer and they sent me a huge box of dealer branded items. That was 12 years ago, and I still tell people what a great surprise that was! Giving it to them at the dealership removes the surprise element.
- Get a ‘time-respecting’ tool to sell your vehicles and RVs. By this, I mean a tool on your website that will allow the customer to negotiate at least part of their deal online. Without it, you are behind the curve and your customers will soon migrate to dealerships that provide time-saving devices, like Virtual Deal. Unless you are giving every customer that walks onto your floor a trip to the Bahama’s, you should take some time to implement an online deal creation tool. Customers will love how much of their time you have respected by negotiating before they get there.
- Provide a concierge at your dealership that greets the customer like a hostess at a restaurant. I’m not talking a lady behind a desk whose butt is glued to the Hon chair. Desks are barriers to communication. I recently visited a dealership in New York that the lady got up out of her chair, from behind her desk, warmly and humbly greeted me with a handshake, and sat me at a comfortable, high-quality leather sofa. There was a refrigerator-sized soda machine with everything from bottled water to energy drinks in there. Everyone got one, but I felt well taken care of from the moment I walked in.
These are all relationship-building activities in dealerships that are highly successful We have a million ideas on customer service in your dealership, and how to sell more units. These are just a few and they work for repeat and referral customers.
I hope this article inspires you to look at your own dealership and ask yourself if you are consumer-centric. Please share any thoughts or experiences you may have with us. We always love to share ideas!
Author: Mari Campuzano