Prepare to attack and watch your return on investment soar.
There’s no question that today’s car dealer industry is a highly competitive zone, and that’s why you have to think about the market as a battlefield.
In fact, dealers have two distinct battlefields where they need to focus their efforts and attention to pull ahead of the competition. These are the areas where you need to pull up your bootstraps and zero in on the target to get a substantial ROI. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
To begin with, there’s your online presence. I’ve seen the results when dealers rally their efforts around this goal, and it’s extremely rewarding. Your dealer website is where everything begins, where the magic starts. Do you have a good understanding of your inventory management? Your search engine optimization (SEO)?
Then there’s search engine marketing, reputation and of course the website itself. Plus having an understanding of what your competition is doing. All of those combined will give the opportunity to level up and understand what’s going on, so you can make a positive difference in those areas.
Increase your bubble
Improving your online presence can make your bubble a lot bigger, so you can pull in traffic and users that wouldn’t otherwise be drawn to your dealership. The effort you make, the time and resources you dedicate to boosting your digital presence will pay off big time. You’ll see your ROI skyrocket, especially in terms of the quality leads— phone, email and walk-in opportunities.
Your other battlefield is customer experience. You can kick this off by checking out what’s right under your nose, like your CSI and customer service. What have your customers been saying? Are the washrooms clean? Is the dealer continually progressing? Are there snags in your delivery process? Does the receptionist know where to send customers?
Take some time to analyze what’s happening and come up with a game plan to improve on processes. You can learn a lot from your online reviews and any customer surveys that are generated for your store. That’s where your customers are speaking freely. They’re not sugar-coating anything, and that’s to your benefit.
Listen to your staff and reward them. They know where the pinch points are because they talk with your customers. They’re right on the front lines, interacting with your customers. They could easily put together a list of things that could use some improvement. You’ll want to vet that list because some of those items might set you back $500 and others just $5. Some may not cost anything at all, they just need a little attention.
Who else can help you? Your vendors. What are they hearing out there? That includes the manufacturer. They’ve just been to three other dealers, and one of them talked about how the mat wash in their drive-through is a huge hit with their customers. That’s not something you would hear about unless you ask… so ask.
Talk with your staff, your vendors, your manufacturers and make sure they’re bringing you some of the conversations they’re hearing out there. Sure, the manufacturers have their programs, like Toyota has Disney. They’ll put you in a room and you hear about other industries that are increasing and improving customer experience. That’s great, and it’s an exciting way to stretch your thinking. But it’s a very broad approach, and generic in its appeal. Your specific store needs more. Your store deserves to have a custom-tailored analysis that takes into account your location, your customers, your brand.
So you can take it one step further and bring in a secret shop. Bring in a family member or friend to call the store, maybe do a falsified purchase of a vehicle and see how that actually goes through into delivery.
Third party assessment
Or you can bring in a third party to do an assessment. Having an external company come in and do an analysis is a tool that could come in very handy to reach your maximum ROI. It’s a way to analyze thousands of your customer touchpoints as a dealer/owner, and have them served up to you on a platter. You can see incidents and occurrences— both positive and negative—and correct on those priority items.
For example—are you optimizing all your online profiles? This includes the manufacturer’s profile, CarGurus, Kijiji, Google, Instagram and other social media feeds. Then there’s your inventory. Are you analyzing it properly and syndicating it out accurately and to the best that the inventory can be presented?
Another area is analyzing your website presence—how you’re showing up on the manufacturer site, on different business profiles, on review sites, and more. Not only are online areas analyzed, but so are in-store touchpoints, which are referenced and provided to the owners to improve upon.
It’s something to consider. If there are deficiencies, it could be that you just haven’t had the time to dedicate to these battlefields to conquer them and score your ROI. Think of all the different ways you have to attack these areas and what’s going to work best given the resources you have at your disposal. But whatever you decide, don’t wait too long. There are battles to be fought, and ROI to be gained.