The dealership in the information age.
We know that when it comes to getting customers to the dealership there are a few ingredients required: marketing for sure, prices and promotions of course—and past experiences go without saying. Nowadays there is another factor that might just be as important: Information.
That’s right. A recent Brand Spark/Kijiji Autos study reveals that the quality of information dealers provide online to consumers is more important than the variety of vehicles in the lot. Today online research is a vital part of any major purchase, whether it be a computer, a refrigerator or a vacation destination. For most folks the purchase of a vehicle is their biggest purchase, just behind buying a house. That’s why consumers are becoming ever-more knowledgeable about what they want to buy through online research.
Canadians hop on the digital highway
The average Canadian will spend seven weeks researching online before even setting foot in a dealership and 40% of them will only visit one. 83% of future buyers spend more than half their research time using digital channels. In comparison, 55% of dealers allocate less than half their media budget on digital channels. There is a great divide between what the dealers think is important vs. what the consumer wants. In fact, the study shows that the online information quality ranks #4 for consumers but ranks #9 for dealers.
To give potential buyers the information they are looking for you need to be present where consumers are looking. There are easy ways to arm savvy Canadians with the information they want:
Dealership sites are the clear leading online source and should deliver the most information possible. Make sure your dealership information is available and up to date.
Sales and promotions are ranked #1 in desired consumer value. Make this information available online and use this to gain consumer attention.
Online reviews are significant for shoppers. Customer feedback is an indicator of experience and volume of visitors, and both build credibility and trust.
Online ratings and reviews have become influential across all industries. According to dealers, the importance of online ratings and reviews has grown to be almost as important as recommendations from friends and family. Asking satisfied customers to give an online rating will have an impact on building trust with future buyers. In fact, the more accurate the review, the better. A 4.5 star rating is considered more believable than a 5 star rating. The number of reviews is important as well—trust is maximized with more than 50 ratings.
The sales experience
Getting a car shopper into the dealership is a big win. The dealer is now connected with the buyer. To strengthen the connection with potential buyers once they’re on the lot, dealers need to offer trustworthiness, transparency and, even more importantly, a pressure-free environment.
Providing additional and useful information might just be the way to get the potential buyer to see the salesperson as an assistant in their purchase and not being there simply to close the sale. The sales experience is based on interaction with a personable and knowledgeable salesperson. Of course, likeability is critical. When all other things are equal, car shoppers will buy from people they like.
Dealerships are four times more likely to close a sale if they’re not forceful or pushy with the consumer. But less than one-half of dealers recognize the importance of not being forceful or pushy. Dealers should use the time in the showroom to nurture the prospective consumer through providing consultative help, rather than a hard sell.
Stay connected with your customers
Like most relationships, staying in touch counts for a lot. The relationship with the customer is no different. In fact, it’s a crucial step after the sale, and customers expect the dealership to initiate and maintain a steady cadence of communication. Loyalty increases when customers feel connected to their dealership after they drive off.
You should ensure all customer communications are targeted and personal. Please be mindful, frequency of contact should be controlled by the customer. What some may see as good service, others could see as too aggressive. The study shows that 89% of customers appreciate when a dealer enquires about a vehicle’s performance post-purchase and 83% wish to be notified of deals and sales on services or accessories.
Bottom line, it’s all about providing valuable information and being seen as a trusted resource for the potential buyer. Everybody wants to be in the know, so make sure you provide your clientele with the best tools to make the right decision.