We are all quite aware of the ever changing and evolving auto industry. What worked 5 years ago did just that; worked 5 years ago. Using the same “secret formula” in 2017 that was used in 2012, will prove to be just as fruitful as investing thousands in Beanie Babies with the expectation of becoming a millionaire when they are sold. Side bar: remember those things? I had a collection most would be jealous of, but unfortunately my basement flooded leaving them moldy and me with a massive pit of regret in my stomach. Well, I can almost guarantee this investment has yet to pay off, so why wouldn’t the same principle of adapting apply to Auto Sales in 2017? Let’s take a look three different examples to ponder:
Websites and Google…the almighty Google:
There are still a handful of dealers out there that still believe websites are a waste of time. Their repeat customers will keep the dealer name and “legend” around for years to come so why invest time or money into a website? Websites don’t sell cars, dealers do right? Well as important as repeat customers and word of mouth are, the answer is actually not as clean cut as you think. Do dealers sell vehicles? Of course they do, but do websites sell vehicles? Indirectly, they do and in a potentially huge way. Think about any purchase you personally make, first instance, if you want a new TV. What’s the first thing you do? That’s right, pull out your smart phone, type in G-O-O-G-L-E, then the TV you want, and start scrolling through search results. Your customers are following the same exact steps when they want a new vehicle, and let’s not forget this is one of the largest purchases they will ever make within their lifetime, so you know they are doing their research. Customers are getting more and more informed, to the point of knowing more about your dealership than you potentially may. All of this within reach of their fingertips, in the easiest, and now, most familiar way possible. In fact, according to Edmunds, 71% of automotive customers visit websites before stepping foot in a dealership. But, and this is a huge caveat, this process isn’t just about learning. It’s hidden gem is about counting you, as a dealer, in or out as a buying option. Your website, your internet presence, and your relevance to Google will be the determining factors.
Death to Brand Dedication:
I grew up with Chevrolet in my blood and in my core being of a gear head. “CHEVY! CHEVY! CHEVY….Give me my bowtie!” I can remember the heated debates in High School over Camaro vs. Mustang, which may or may not have ended in physical contact or detention. Don’t tell my mother! Now I sit, in 2017 owning a Ford…yes…a Ford. I bled Chevy in my younger years and now frothing at the mouth to tune my Fiesta ST. So what changed? I cross shopped vehicles instead of just going with what someone before me believed in. I did my research on what fit my wants and needs, and in this case found exactly what fed my thirst. My brand dedication…is officially dead. So how do you combat potential customers from doing the same and leave the brand you represent as a dealer? In all honesty, and this may come off as crazy, you cannot. Brand dedication can still be relevant, but is not nearly as strong as it once was. Your adaptation should be on your reputation, the experience you provide to the customer, and your dealership as a whole. Let tier 1 handle dedication. Should you highlight vehicles, especially the new models? Of course! But focusing on how to keep the brand retention strong like you had in the past is not a smart route, especially when buyers are getting more and more informed. See previous paragraph.
Yelling on Air: …No.
“BUY, BUY, BUY!! COME ON DOWN NOW!”. There was a time when this practice was accepted as the best way to do business. Having TV and radio commercials that grabbed peoples eyes and ears as violently as possible was vital considering antennas and radio waves were the only other option besides a printing press, thousands of balloons, and someone on the corner holding spinning arrow. Times have changed dramatically though and the amount of commercials being thrown in a customers face is increasing each day, so why make it worse? Most people tune out, or even hit the mute button when a “yelly”, as my nephew coined it, commercial comes on. That right there is the worst advertising investment you can possibly do. Your commercial comes on and someone hits the mute button? A screen door on a submarine is just as effective. Engage your customer, make them think! We also aren’t as limited in advertising channels like we used to be. Paid advertising, streaming TV, streaming radio, and social media just to name a few. So of course it’s imperative to make your message heard, but the importance should be on your message being absorbed and remembered… or just let us geniuses handle it because guess what? You’ve made it through this entire article and continue to read, which means we still have your attention, which means we know what we are doing….insert smiley face.