One of the biggest opportunities for growth lies in building a custom suite of digital products for dealership operations, which include sales enablement processes, post-purchase customer support, and measuring performance. This revolution is powered by enormous amounts of data you can turn into time and cost-saving insights for your dealership.
Why Change the Current System?
The auto industry has long stood by the mantra, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” But now that consumer brand experiences like Carvana are mainstream, customers are accustomed to personalized experiences, timely notifications, and 24/7 support.
Picture the industry 10 years ago. Most consumers’ car-buying journey began and ended at the dealership. A potential buyer could walk in, learn about what type of car would best meet their needs, and make a purchase based on custom recommendations from a sales representative.
In today’s market, however, nearly 95% of consumers start their search using digital channels. By the time they walk into your dealership, more than 60% of car buyers know what kind of car they will walk out with.
Fortunately, though, many customers still prefer to test drive, configure, and purchase their car at the dealership. Because of this, your dealership’s staff needs data-driven customer profiles and smooth sales processes to quickly assess the needs of customers.
In the rest of this guide, we’ll show you specific examples of how dealership managers are using custom digital tools to reduce overall sales and marketing costs, speed up the sales cycle, and increase the lifetime value of each customer.
Increasing Sales by Merging the Online and Offline Car Buying Experience
More than 87% of your customers are dissatisfied with the traditional dealership experiences. They are walking into your dealership skeptical and, oftentimes, more informed than your sales representatives. Given the opportunity, more than 75% of car buyers would prefer to complete the process completely online with new experiences like Carvana.
Customers who visit your dealership are looking for the best of both worlds: they want the convenience of online shopping and the personalized service of a brick-and-mortar store. The goal is to create a seamless omni-channel experience by connecting your web app to your customer relationship management (CRM) software, sales tools, and other digital touch points in your dealership.
One way to continue building your customers’ data profiles in-store is to place digital information kiosks powered by your dealerships’ custom software throughout your showroom. Design the application around your inventory and services so customers can explore vehicle models, view customizations, and see personalized recommendations in real-time.
While the application creates a better shopping experience for your customers, the data collected from customer interactions with the software will give your staff sale-boosting insights.
As customers interact with your software, you can begin to build personas based on demographics and purchase history. By analyzing which personas convert and their price points, your sales team can use the information to spend more time on leads that will turn into high-value customers.
Prioritizing prospects doesn’t just lead to more sales; it leads to your staff spending time on the right customers who will give you the greatest return on your investment.
Fortune 500 Car Manufacturer Expedites Sales Process with Mobile Post-Purchase Experience
Oftentimes, the most frustrating part of the sales process occurs after the customer picks out the car they want to buy. The sales representative must manually gather the customer’s information, review documents, and complete post-purchase tasks, reducing the time spent on closing other deals.
A leading car manufacturer solved this by equipping sales representatives with post-purchase custom mobile application. Instead of completing a tedious post-purchase checklist by hand, its sales team can quickly move customers through the process with a comprehensive and automated experience. By speeding up the post-purchase experience, sales representatives can flow through customers more quickly, allowing them to close more sales each day.
Automating the Service Department with the Internet of Things
Your dealership’s profitability depends on your service department’s performance. A recent industry survey by Cox Automotive found though profits from car sales have decreased to 2.5% per vehicle, profits from fixed operations have increased to 49%.
The study also found customers who returned to their dealership’s service department more than once were more likely to purchase their next vehicle from the dealership than those who did not return. Providing a seamless customer experience in your service department strengthens your sales across your entire operation.
Using Predictive Analytics for Upselling Maintenance
When your customers have a problem with their vehicle, they have two options: to make a service appointment with your dealership or with an independent repair shop. By adding sensors into the cars in your inventory, you have the advantage of knowing when your customers’ cars are in need of repair even before the customer is aware.
How does this work? Outfit the cars in your inventory with sensors that can track equipment efficiency and wear in real-time. This technology can monitor the vehicles’ exhaust systems, engine, transmission performance, oil levels, tire pressure, and more and alert your service department when the car’s parts show signs of impending problems.
With this automated process, your service department can proactively reach out to the customer to notify them of the need for a repair and schedule an appointment, reducing the possibility that the customer might choose to work with your service department’s competitors.
With this data, your team will begin to gather data that was previously impossible, such as the lifespan of car parts, local driving conditions, and more. This information can help your dealership spot trends for sale forecasting or vehicle performance patterns that could help prevent costly product recalls.
Notifying Your Sales Team When a Customer is Ready to Buy
Like using predictive maintenance to boost sales for your service department, your sales team can use vehicle sensors and custom software to gauge when a vehicle is nearing its mileage capacity. They can reach out to past customers at the right moment with promotional messages when they are most likely preparing for a new vehicle purchase.
This proactive approach ensures that your dealership is top-of-mind for customers who already know about your dealership and are ready to buy. In turn, you’ll save money on the marketing costs of acquiring brand new customers, which typically costs 10% more than targeting past customers.
Auto retailers who understand the importance of big data can seamlessly connect the online and offline car buying experiences. Fortunately, your dealership is producing an overwhelming amount of customer data, but you will need a custom suite of digital tools to extract and interpret insights. Doing so will lead to greater customer loyalty and retention, easier decision-making through data-driven insights, and increased profitability.
If you want to learn more about how to build a strong ecosystem of products for your dealership, reach out to our in-house team of product strategists and software architects.