There are ten areas dealers need to focus on for their DR makeover. All of them are equally important and need the proper attention or outside help to make them happen.
In a time when our ability to travel is limited, we tend to look within ourselves and focus on the improvement of what is around us–see the sustained popularity of home and personal makeover shows throughout quarantine and the endless stream of DIY projects being posted on social media.
The same can be true for automotive dealerships and their websites. Countless articles covering the blooming of digital retailing have been shared and discussed. The pros and the cons of what consumers are looking for and how the retail experience should evolve has been a hotly debated topic as we are forced into an age where online shopping takes on a whole new meaning.
I have been active in promoting digital retailing for the past 18 months (and for good reason), and it has only accelerated during COVID. The rush to embrace a technology for the website has become more widely accepted, but what has been missing is a unified approach to creating a “makeover” for the whole process of buying a car or servicing a car.
Prior to COVID, there were examples of dealers beginning to embrace this change, seeing competition from Carvana or Vroom and sensing an opportunity. They began to create a system of end to end communication to connect the consumer to their staff in real time. Some were successful, and others focused too much on one aspect of the process while neglecting others.
How to Implement the 10 Steps to a Successful DR Makeover
- Reverse Engineer The Process
This is going to be key to the success of your program. Begin with the end in mind. When customers leave your dealership, how should they feel? Then you must decide what actions your teams need to perform in order to create this feeling.
- Review the Team Structure
Before rushing to add technology, you must look at your current structure. Are you willing to remove certain CTA buttons on your website to move from forms to chat? A tool that is integrated with chat would be better. If you are looking for a more structured approach or taking customers down a certain path a different tool would be better. Adapt what you have in place to find the right tech.
- Create A Branding Message
Naming your process will help customers connect to your messaging. Saying “buy online” may not be enough–but Express or Fast Lane may help them feel comfortable doing part of the process at home and having the dealership pick up where they left off. Remember, they are looking to save time–not buy the car fully online.
Client Example: Access Ford Lincoln branded their process “AccessPass” making it easier to understand and market to their customers.
- Merchandise Your Website
This type of process did not exist the last time many customers bought or leased their last vehicle, so it is important to remember to help educate customers on the process and what is in it for them. In the past, the sales process began when they arrived at the dealership lot. Times have changed, and you need to communicate your willingness to adapt to a faster, more efficient process.
- Review and Adjust
Review current email, phone, and text processes for handling internet customers. You will need to not only create new communication strategies for these opportunities, but also have to adapt current templates to alert consumers to your process. If they see your vehicle on a third party platform and drop onto the VDP, do you have information on the VDP explaining the new process or button? Your email or call will help them.
- Fine-Tune the Handoff
Many dealerships are moving to a single point of contact for these opportunities so they don’t fumble any leads during handoff. If you still employ a BDC to act as a transition point to a salesperson, it is vital to make sure the salesperson is up to date before greeting the customer. This should be happening with all appointments, but even more so here because of your marketing efforts that let customers know you won’t be wasting any of their time.
- Merchandise the Store
Create signage, banners, window decals, hang tags, parking spaces, rugs, or anything you can think of to announce the new process in the store that spurs conversation and questions.
- Create Marketing Campaigns
Create separate marketing campaigns focused on the new process. Don’t stop other marketing for offers and specials but add these into your rotation to explain it. Use direct mail and email blasts. Send them to a landing page on your site with videos explaining and demonstrating how easy the process is.
- Get Reviews
Don’t forget to get happy customers validating the marketing claims of the new process. Try to get both written and video testimonials to help marketing. If possible, get photos in front of your in-store merchandising to show off the name, and don’t be afraid to brag about your brand new customer experience.
- Rinse and Repeat for Service
The reason naming conventions should focus on speed in lieu of simply just buying online is the ability to use the same branding for service. You already do many great things for service but having a name for the process now allows you to stand out in the marketplace.
While makeovers are all the rage, there won’t be a big reveal at the end as there is on TV, because this should be a constantly evolving process. Understand that those customers who purchased during COVID who had a more seamless experience will expect it to be better the next time around. Learn what made them happy and build on that to communicate to your customer base there is a new way to purchase or service a vehicle that is faster and easier than in the past.
Our 60 Day DR Consulting Program will put these must-have ten steps of digital retailing into action. Get in touch with me for more information about it and to get started on your complete digital retailing makeover.
-Glenn Pasch, CEO