The six most important questions dealers must answer in 2020.
The year may not be done yet, but 2020 has already arrived for many of Canada’s dealerships. On average, Canadian car buyers now spend up to seven weeks browsing vehicle types, searching for reviews and comparing prices before making a purchase. There are consumers out there right now making those small decisions that, taken together, will dictate when and where they decide to meet with a dealer come 2020.
This rise of the educated consumer is part of the “new norm” within the auto industry. Opportunities await dealers who are prepared to connect with buyers throughout their entire car shopping journey, and make digital disruption work to their benefit. It all starts with the right plan. Here are six important questions dealers should be asking themselves to ensure they are well-positioned for success in 2020 and beyond.
Do my traditional and digital channel investments reflect where consumers actually spend time?
It can be tempting to make marketing decisions based on assumptions, but it pays to look at the data. On one hand, a recent annual dealer research report shows that 2018 marked the first year that a majority of millennial consumers (53%) used mobile devices as part of their purchase or lease process. And they weren’t alone. Older shoppers in the 35-54 bracket also showed growing enthusiasm for devices (40%, up 5% from the previous year).
On the other hand, numbers show that a significant number of consumers have yet to make that mobile leap. The lesson here is that 2020 is not the year to go “all in” on any one channel or medium. Take time to strike a careful balance, watch for online traffic and patterns.
Does my digital team have information optimized for consumer consumption, based on their priorities?
Spend 2020 focusing on serving up what buyers want most: Dealership Sales, Incentivized Promotions (such as free winter tires or service appointments), Fair Pricing, as well as providing an abundance of transparent information about your inventory. Perform a website audit, and optimize meta tags and keywords based on what buyers want most.
When it comes to vehicle pricing, am I being as consistent and transparent as possible?
Speaking of pricing: we all know it—price reigns supreme for shoppers. Even the best marketing strategy won’t overcome a consumer’s budget limitations. In 2020, dealers are even likely to see more price-conscious consumers than ever as Canadians seek ways to minimize their spending.
No surprise then that our report showed buyers are willing to drive up to 70km just to shave $500 off the price of a vehicle, and that they’re keen to hear talk of 0% financing. The bottom line is this: dealers that aren’t clear on bottom-line pricing may risk their credibility with consumers who are on the hunt for the best possible deal.
Am I making every effort to cultivate the friendly, helpful atmosphere potential buyers want?
The test drive is still the number-one factor pushing people into dealerships. It’s when all their research and opinions about a particular vehicle gets put to the ultimate test. The real opportunity for dealerships is creating the experience that surrounds that test drive, starting from the minute a potential buyer investigates a dealer online to when he/she walks in the door.
Make sure your online and in-person experience are seamless and reflect the experience buyers can expect. Dealers should also make every effort in 2020 to assess the strengths of their teams and identify areas for improvement. Ultimately, consumers buy from people, and they want to work with experts who are honest, friendly, willing to listen and move at the pace they seek.
Do I truly understand the difference between Boomers and Millennials?
Poking fun at the Boomer generation has become something of a pastime on social media. For dealers, however, the mission is clear—serving Boomers well and making every effort to address their needs makes good business sense.
Older Canadians are three times more likely to buy based on want versus need. They’re also more likely to refer dealers to others, tend to come back for after-sales service, and often return to the same dealers for their next purchase.
It’s important to offer the deals and experiences that suit more budget-conscious Millennials. But don’t do it at the expense of older consumers.
Do I contact my buyers based on their preferences?
No two buyers are exactly alike, and that’s especially true when it comes to how often they want to hear from the brands they deal with, if at all. Some like regular email communications. Others want no part of it. There’s a clear divide out there—our report shows that 40% of buyers prefer seasonal communications, while 45% prefer annual.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to communication. Get direct feedback from buyers, understand their preferences and plan accordingly.
It can be hard to put dealers into a single bucket, and depending on the market they serve, their 2020 challenges and opportunities will differ. But taking these questions into account will help dealers go a long way to preparing for a successful and prosperous year ahead.