TIMES HAVE CHANGED
In the last few years we know the retail sales landscape has changed at an amazingly fast rate making the job dealerships do much more difficult. I believe this is basically down to the rather lethargic approach of the automotive industry sector (including manufacturers in a number of cases) to that change, with consumers now having access to information across multiple marketing channels and being more clued up on a brands product long before they enter the showroom. They also take far more notice of opinions of other consumers and their experiences with the brand and indeed the dealership they bought from.
For the dealerships, this means understanding and welcoming the major advances in digital technology and, with the help of the brand (manufacturer), necessitating major changes to the traditional retail model. There is a need to adapt the marketing and communications to ensure consumers’ needs are being met away from the showroom and forecourt, using things like 360 video, instant messaging, social media (currently very poorly used), customer reviews/feedback, online valuations and virtual reality. Nowadays, consumers are empowered with unprecedented access to information, with much of the retail engagement taking place online, and customers expect fast, knowledgeable responses so they can arrive at the dealership, more or less ready to buy!
WORK WITH THE CHANGE
It is my opinion the days of the commission-driven salesperson are virtually gone … with ‘product experts’ now needed to validate the purchase decision by understanding the customer’s needs and lifestyle … not just knowing what buttons do what … and explain the benefits and how the product will make their lives easier and better. The commitment then is to build the relationship, looking after the customer throughout the ownership lifecycle – spanning servicing, parts and accessories – ensuring as much as possible that the customer wants to buy again and becomes an advocate for the dealership and brand.
This doesn’t mean dealers and the art of sales is becoming obsolete, but the opportunity needs to be seized to adapt some of those outdated business models to create environments to immerse customers into the brand and experience products in comfortable surroundings, thus making the whole buying experience a pleasant one.
There is also the coming of the ‘online purchase’ from the brands, and ‘retail outlets’ have started to appear in major shopping centres, so again more changes may come … time will tell on these.
Spend some time evaluating your current business model, note where there may be issues or where things can be improved? It’s not an easy, quick fix, but in most cases it’s a culture change … but the benefits are there to be had and that is good for the long term future.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside some of the biggest brands in automotive in the UK gaining masses of knowledge and experience in roles at both marketing agency and manufacturer, working mainly with dealer networks over the last 25 or so years. I have worked with car, truck and van dealerships and manufacturers to improve the quality of local marketing, the penetration of activity to the target market and increase inquiry and footfall levels to generate income in all areas of the business, so perhaps I can call myself a bit of a specialist when it comes to marketing a dealership.
We are not prescriptive and we know there’s no ‘one-size fits all’, so we listen and will understand the challenges and opportunities dealers and vehicle manufacturers face. Our flexible approach will help develop bespoke marketing solutions to improve business performance and maximise local market opportunities.”
Let’s talk … call us on 07773 366393 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org to book your first 60-minute Marketing Consultation … and the really good thing, it’s FREE!