Now is the time to strengthen what’s already working in your stores, as well as restructure what may need improvement.
Everyone’s going back to school, and maybe, it’s time for dealers to do a little homework. With sales in a slump, here’s an opportunity to put your dealership under a microscope and see where there’s room for improvement.
Ask yourself what you could be doing better. Are you overlooking the obvious? Think about your presence. This is one of the new battlefields for dealerships. There are only two battlefields left, and this is where you’re going to duke it out with the competition. Once you have that in place, you have the ability to pull traffic and customers from your competitors.
What about that second battlefield, your customer experience? This is a long term consideration. Take a look around your dealership. Is it clean? Is your lawn green? Are the parking lines crisp? Is there handicapped parking? This is a clientele that’s looking for—and deserves—an Apple or Microsoft experience.
Then there’s the optimization and customization of all the technologies that your staff uses. These aren’t necessarily the physical tools, but the digital and online tools. These are what they use to help them do their jobs. It’s possible your employees aren’t utilizing them as fully as they could. What can you do to customize and optimize those tools to their full capability, so your employees can be more productive and efficient?
This can include anything from your employees’ desktop computer to the customer-facing screens in your dealership. Other examples can be a service scheduler, CRM, texting software. Do employees know how to use short cuts on their computers? Do their screensavers talk about your VIP program?
Sometimes, it’s the manager of a department who isn’t looking at the tools and interacting with companies to make improvements. Their foot is not on the gas! Or it could be the vendor—they’re not coming to the table and showing how comprehensive and far-reaching their tools can be. In fact, your employees might only be using 30 percent of a device’s capability. Vendors should be interested in meeting with you and helping your dealership optimize all their equipment.
For owners who may have multiple dealerships, perhaps a third-party evaluation is in order. What do you know about all the touchpoints in your various stores? How well are they working? Are you even aware of all that exists? How are you able to self-audit? Owners may only see the nitty gritty of what’s going on from their general managers and their sales managers. Then there’s someone below you who may scrub those reports and occurrences to sway in their direction. People tend to look after themselves, perhaps not think about the long term implications.
But these important customer touchpoints—things like service phone numbers that don’t link back to the service centre, anywhere a customer has contact with your dealership—all impact the culture of your stores. And that’s going to impact the long-term performance of your business.
Maybe it’s an idea to hire a third party to do an assessment, where a team consistently oversees all the dealer customer touchpoints. It’s not just for digital, but in-store and vendor representation as well. Think of it as a holistic approach. Maybe there’s a team for every area, like reputation, website, search engines, inventory, aftersales, communication—to name a few areas of importance. They’d be looking at this 24-7, to find positives and negatives. And whatever they find, whether it’s in-store, online, email, the CRM vendor, the manufacturer, they document, make suggestions and transfer through an interface to you directly.
And if there are priority items, those get a special ranking, because those need to be addressed right away. The advantage of a third party assessment is that their only motivation is to give you the information that’s going to make you perform better. They’re not interested in making themselves look good. Their job is to make you look good and perform at your best.
All those customer touchpoints need to be optimized to ensure your store is working at its maximum potential, and even beyond. But it’s challenging to make that call unless you’re an expert in that field. That’s why it makes sense to call in the professionals, and make that investment. You’re putting in time and money to not only retain the customers you do have, but attract new business. Why not get the maximum ROI on your efforts?
Maybe there’s an opportunity here to examine your store’s pillars and better align them with your long term strategy. By putting your store under a magnifying glass, and looking at all the ways you can strengthen what’s already working, and restructure what may need improvement, you can beat this decline and pull forward by pulling a few of those customers that visit 1.8 new car dealers.
There’s a lot to be said for taking a long, hard, objective view of a business that’s part of an industry undergoing disruption and change. Could it be time to bring in the professionals? It’s your call, and your bottom line. If there are multiple dealerships at stake, it could pay off big time.