Make Your Dealership Stand Out – Part 2

Date June 23, 2023
Authors HBK CPAs & Consultants

Part two of a two-part series

What differentiates your dealership from the dealership down the street? In part one of our two-part series we shared some relatively simple steps you can take to make your dealership stand out. Now, a few more ways to help you distinguish your dealership from the competition:

  • Help customers find your dealership online.

    Is it easy for customers to find your dealership online? There’s a simple way to find out. Look for yourself.

    Sy Simms was a clothier in New Jersey whose advertising slogan was, “An educated consumer is our best customer.” The internet has created a more educated customer. It offers many proven ways to engage, attract, and retain customers like never before. Exploring ways customers find and select a dealership, and ways to enhance the probability that they’ll select yours, is a great place to start.

    Your website is your new storefront, and there’s a science behind website customer conversions. Using the right techniques, and crafting the right message, will help you capture more customers. Helping people find your dealership is crucial. Website “awareness ads” call attention to where your dealership is located by giving the viewer relevant call-to-actions like “Get Directions” or “Call Now.”

  • Publish customer testimonials on your website.

    Customer testimonials are recommendations and positive reviews from satisfied customers about your dealership. They’re a way of telling website visitors that your dealership has value and that your customers are happy. Testimonials can deliver a substantial boost in sales and service, turning customers into dealership ambassadors.

  • Focus on your “Why buy here.”

    Why should a potential customer buy from you? Anyone shopping for a new or pre-owned unit knows they have many choices. Making a choice gets even tougher when it comes to choosing which dealership to buy from.

    Why is your dealership better than all the other powersports dealerships in the area? Do you know? Does your staff know? If not, how do you expect potential customers to know? If you do know, don’t keep it to yourself. Brag about your dealership. If you don’t brag, don’t expect others to do it for you.

  • Create your value proposition.

    Constructing your dealership’s unique value proposition is crucial to accomplishing your marketing goals. It’s not enough to say, “We sell brand X.” While offering a highly desirable brand should be part of your value proposition, alone it’s not enough of a differentiator. However, if you offer an impressively large selection of new and pre-owned makes and models and sell them at discounted prices, that’s something to broadcast.

    Is your dealership conveniently located? Great! Do you offer any value-added packages, like free oil changes or complimentary service loaners? Awesome! What about your staff? Are they Chick-fil-A employee-level awesome or just average? When Mr. and Mrs. Customer enter your showroom, does it look nice and feel comfortable? Are the desks free of clutter? Is your staff professionally dressed, their faces beaming with friendly smiles? Do they enthusiastically greet visitors with a welcoming phrase like, “Welcome to ABC motors. I’m Tim, how can I help you today?”

    Little extras, including things you might take for granted, go a long way. Is your customer lounge clean and supplied with free coffee and snacks? Do you have Wi-Fi? Is there a children’s play area? Are your bathrooms clean, like sparkling clean? It matters.

    Often, as we begin to dive into what “sells” about a dealership, we uncover opportunities for operational improvements. If you’re not confident that you can describe your dealership as a friendly, welcoming, stress-free environment, customer service training might be in order. If you know that your sales process (if you have one) takes too long, consider some process and procedure changes.

  • Evaluate your dealership.

    Can a shopper fill out a credit application on your website? Can they get a trade appraisal? Better yet, will a salesperson deliver the unit to their home and allow them to complete the sale when it is convenient for them?

    Are your pre-owned units inspected and meticulously reconditioned to ensure quality and reliability? Does your dealership hold community outreach events, such as food drives for the homeless; child I.D. days; cookouts when the weather is warm; giveaways; contests; promotional events with music, food, and door prizes? Is your dealership a “destination”? These are all wonderful things to highlight in your “Why buy here” message.

    The possibilities are endless when you start brainstorming about how to move from “just another dealership” to “THE BEST PLACE TO BUY A VEHICLE.”

“For want of a customer, the sale was lost. For want of a sale, the salesperson was lost. For want of a salesperson, the dealership was lost. For want of a dealership, jobs were lost.”

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Make Your Dealership Stand Out

Date May 26, 2023
Authors HBK CPAs & Consultants

Part one of a two-part series

What differentiates your dealership from the store down the street? Do you know? Would you like to find out?

Based on numerous surveys done during the pandemic, when everyone was trying to figure out their next move, customers laid out a road map of what they’d like to see, feel, and hear during their next dealer visit.

We’re not saying these relatively simple steps will instantly make you more successful, but they are what customers are telling you they want.

Offer incentives to current customers.

Do you have a customer incentive program or have you thought about creating one? Ask yourself, “What can an incentive program do for my dealership?”

What are customer incentives?

Customer incentives are rewards that a business rewards customers for certain behaviors. They can take many forms, including reward points, discounts, and freebies. But regardless of the form, they’re aimed at encouraging customers to perform, and more importantly, repeat behaviors that help your business. For instance you can offer a promo of buy three oil changes and the fourth one is free or refer someone to purchase from your dealership, get a $100 check. $100 may seem like a lot but when you consider the fact that it cost roughly $300 to capture a new customer, $100 doesn’t seem too bad.

What can a customer incentive program do for your dealership?

Customer incentives promote customer loyalty. A customer incentive program will help your customers feel more appreciated and make their experience more memorable, as well as promote customer retention as more customers will make repeat purchases. Per J. D. Powers, 40 percent of revenue comes from repeat customers.

Incentives help you collect customer data.

Customer incentive programs are also a way to collect customer data in exchange for a benefit. Customers asked to share personal data are often unwilling to do so. But if a customer benefits from sharing their data, like through your incentive program, they might be more willing to share personal data to sign up. You can then use the data to personalize that customer’s experience as well as to create highly targeted marketing campaigns.

Bringing buyers to your dealership starts with effective lead generation techniques. Once you have identified your target audience, your job is to reach these potential customers where they are, online and offline.

Use social media.

Social media is not only a prominent part of our personal lives, it directly influences the buying process. Ninety percent of consumers who use social media for research, especially Facebook, say it influenced their final decision. That makes social media a great marketing channel for dealerships to engage new customers and re-engage existing ones.

Establish an online presence.

A recent survey by We Are Social revealed that internet use is increasing by more than one million new users daily. People are spending more time online, and for various reasons, from getting information to shopping. Consumers like to be in their comfort zones and make their purchases through the internet. There’s no better way to get your target audience than by establishing an online presence for your dealership. If you don’t you’ll be left out of all that looking and buying!

What’s your reputation?

How do you familiarize people with your dealership’s reputation? The internet is a popular place to find information about a product or brand quickly. The average consumer considers the information available online before deciding on whether to buy or not. A consumer who is looking to purchase a certain product does not only consider the product, but also looks at the reputation of the dealer they intend to buy from.

What are other people saying about you? Did they have a positive buying experience? How many said their experience was not good? An online presence that establishes your reputation as good will bring in business. To get a better online presence, leverage your social media and create a website to house all the information about your dealership. Make it easy for consumers who have bought from you and had a pleasant experience to leave positive reviews, either on your social media profiles or on your website. It will help you build trust among potential buyers.

Ask for referrals.

Marketers agree that referral programs offer a lower cost per lead than any other channel. Your referral program needs to give your current customers an incentive to refer you to people in their network. You can even create a referral program for employees that provides a bonus when they refer someone who becomes a customer. For current customers or employees, the value of the reward you offer is up to you. However, don’t be stingy.

Make buying convenient.

Convenience is one of the leading consumer influencers. Most people don’t want to leave their home to rush to your dealership to meet with a salesperson. Buying online also allows a potential buyer ample time to examine the product they intend to purchase.

Finally, work ON your business rather than IN your business.

Most dealers know how many units they sell on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis. But if I asked you how many new customers you acquired this year, would you have the answer? On the service side, you probably know how many ROs were closed last month and how much revenue was generated, but do you know how many new service customers you acquired? How many of those ROs were customers that you sold a unit to?

In this business, we talk a lot about improving the customer experience. But if you are going to run a truly customer-centric dealership, your need the correct mindset. It’s natural to track numbers related to revenue, but if that’s your priority, it will show in how you treat your customers. Selling is more than a transaction. It’s an opportunity to develop a new relationship. Go from a “sell the unit” mindset to an “acquire a customer” mindset. You will create a better chance for your dealership to stand out and thrive!

Until next time, when we continue our thoughts with Part 2.

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