by Bob Myhal
Concrete Strategies for Dealership Success
Concrete Strategies to drive Dealership Success Amidst Tightening Demand
Over the course of the past 12 months, the challenges facing automotive dealerships have shifted dramatically. Dealers have rapidly gone from facing an environment dominated by high demand but persistent supply issues to one featuring a progressively tightening consumer market. It’s no longer business as usual, and it’s not even business as it was pre-pandemic. Interest rates are high, and consumers are showing an increased reluctance to spend and greater concern over sustainability and personal finances. How can dealerships not only survive but also thrive in these changing times? Let’s dive into this and develop a roadmap of strategies for dealership success.
Understanding the Problem
Before we discuss solutions, it’s crucial to understand the depth and nature of the problem. A few key dynamics are at play:
A challenging economy can lead to reduced disposable income, causing consumers to postpone or reconsider big purchases like vehicles.
Changing Nature of Work:
The pandemic accelerated what was a relatively slow progression of more individuals being able to perform their job remotely. Many families can now get by with one vehicle where two were needed in the past.
Emergence of Alternatives:
The growth of car-sharing platforms, enhanced public transport, and a push for urban living has reduced the urgency in some areas for personal vehicle ownership.
Electric and hybrid vehicles, while promising, require OEMs and dealerships to work together to recalibrate their sales strategies and infrastructure. Not enough progress has been made here, and dealerships are understandably feeling like they are being strongarmed into untenable positions.
Strategies for dealership Success
Though the challenges are undeniable, they aren’t insurmountable. Part of the solution is to roll up our collective sleeves and go back to the grassroots efforts and hard work necessary to maintain and gain market share during tough times. Here are several concrete strategies our automotive dealerships are utilizing today to ensure their ongoing success:
Embrace Digital Transformation
Virtual Showrooms: Invest in creating immersive, virtual car showrooms that enable customers to explore and customize vehicles from the comfort of their homes.
Example: Partner with AR/VR tech companies to offer a “sit inside the car” experience from a customer’s living room.
Online Sales & Service Bookings: Simplify the buying process with online financing tools and provide service booking platforms for easy maintenance scheduling.
Example: Implement a chatbot on your website that helps guide potential buyers through a financing simulation.
Expand Product Offerings
Diverse Inventory: Ensure you stock a range of vehicles, from gas guzzlers to hybrids to fully electric, to cater to diverse clientele.
Example: Organize monthly “feature weekends” that spotlight different vehicle types, such as “SUV weekend” or “Electric Extravaganza”.
Second-Hand Market: Recognize the potential of the pre-owned car market and build a robust system to ensure quality and reliability for second-hand buyers.
Example: Offer a dealership-branded “platinum pre-owned” program with extended warranties, thorough vehicle inspections, and other perks.
Focus on Education and Experience
Test Drive Experiences: Offer extended or unique test drive experiences. For example, weekend test drives or thematic drives focusing on features like off-road capabilities or electric charging.
Example: Collaborate with local travel agencies to curate scenic routes for test drives. Data suggests that just as consumers are more likely to buy a house that they view on a beautiful day, car buyers are more likely to purchase a vehicle if their test drive experience is exceptional.
Organize workshops on vehicle maintenance, benefits of electric vehicles, or any other trending topic to position your dealership as an industry expert.
Example: Host a monthly “Car Care Clinic” that offers free basic vehicle check-ups and educates owners about upkeep.
Strengthen After-Sales Services
Loyalty Programs: Launch loyalty programs offering discounts on maintenance, parts, or even future purchases.
Example: Create a point-based system where every purchase or service availed earns points that can be redeemed later.
Remote Services: Offer services like pick-up and drop-off for maintenance, mobile repair units, and 24/7 helplines.
Example: Deploy a fleet of service vans equipped to handle common car issues, turning them into “repair shops on wheels.”
Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses for joint promotions. Or, sponsor local events to cement your dealership’s place in the community.
Example: Partner with local coffee shops or restaurants to offer “Drive & Dine” promotions. Drivers can test-drive a vehicle and get a complimentary coffee or meal.
Charity Initiatives: Engage in charity work or community services. A dealership that gives back is likely to earn the trust and admiration of its customers.
Example: Dedicate a percentage of each sale to local community projects or host an annual charity drive for a chosen cause. Sharing this good work with your customers is not arrogant; it’s good business and customers will be proud to have helped. When it comes to community, we are all in it together.
A tightening consumer market, though challenging, can be an opportunity for growth and innovation for automotive dealerships. By embracing digital transformation, expanding product offerings, educating customers, strengthening after-sales services, and fostering community ties, dealerships can navigate the current market dynamics and also set themselves up for long-term success.
Success in this environment is less about hard-selling and more about understanding, adapting, and meeting the needs of the contemporary consumer. Navigate these waters wisely, and the road ahead is promising!