The rise of online shopping has had a massive impact on every sector of the retail world. Sales models that worked for decades have needed to be re-imagined, and companies that have been slow to adapt to the new market reality have often faced a drastic decrease in sales — if they have survived these changes at all. While the automotive sector has been spared the worst of the upheaval, experts suggest that the next decade may see disruption on a massive scale as dealerships scramble to retain customers as the number of options expands due to Internet sales.
Here are three things you should be doing now if you want to ensure that sales stay strong at your dealership as it weathers the coming changes.
Engage Customers Online
While most people buying a new car still opt to purchase from a dealership, dealership sales staff have had to become more creative about how they reach out to new customers. Because most shoppers now do the vast majority of their preliminary research online — including searching for deals, reading reviews, and comparing prices — it is more important than ever for dealerships that want to improve sales to be influencing customers while those customers are still in the decision-making stage.
Use Software Tools To Strategically Generate Leads
Plenty of new software tools have become available for dealerships that want to engage customers in new ones in recent years. One of the most popular has been live dealership chat, which makes it possible for dealerships to generate new leads through a chat function on their website that is in turn managed by third-party providers like Gubagoo a Florida-based dealership chat provider that has become an industry-leader in recent years for its innovative service and sophisticated software.
Live chat helps dealerships generate high quality leads by reaching out to a much wider range of potential customers. Chat operatives can advise website visitors on upcoming deals, and handle everything from answering questions about dealership hours and location to setting up test drives. Dealership sales personnelare able to monitor these chats, and if they feel there is an opportunity to close a sale, can jump in and take over. Not only does this expand a dealership’s sales team, it also ensures their own sales staff spend their timeclosing sales rather than trying to generate leads.
Stay Up-To-Date On The Latest Tools And Software
The old adage that the only constant is change has never been truer than it is in 2018. The only way to guarantee your business will not fall behind is to stay on top of the latest developments, and incorporate new tools and software into your marketing strategybefore they become mainstream. The most successful dealerships will be those that are able to regularly innovate and re-imagine their service model to meet the latest customer needs.
A recent white paper from IHS notes that one of the five major challenges facing automobile sellers in the coming years will be competition. With many markets reaching saturation point, and others facing serious obstacles to entry (Millennials, for example, are on average more financially precarious than their parents, which has caused them to enter the automotive market more slowly and cautiously), dealerships across North America are facing a potentially serious sales crunch. Using the most innovative new tools available is the best way to guarantee that your dealership will continue to improve sales even in this challenging retail climate.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.