Millennials have a tremendous effect on the marketplace, and businesses are changing rapidly to keep up and meet their needs. The automotive industry has been working to innovate both its products and its processes to win over this younger generation of consumers and offer the technology, efficiency, and transparency they demand in a changing marketplace.
For service departments, specifically, the changes are extremely pronounced, because millennials are accustomed to self-service, high-tech solutions, and fast turn-around times. This generation isn’t just changing the way things are done in the general marketplace; they are changing the way dealerships solve customer service and maintenance needs, as well as the ways in which they build relationships with potential future shoppers.
Tech Rules the World
Millennials are constantly connected, and they expect the businesses they interact with to be just as in tune with technology as they are. Whether it’s via smartphone, tablet, or desktop, they’re unlikely to be far from technology at any given time—which allows them to connect with anyone around the world in a split second, get answers to their questions immediately, and get product feedback simply by visiting their favorite social platforms. And dealerships are paying attention to millennial preferences, because by 2017, they’re expected to make up the largest online audience, as well as have more buying power, than any generation before them.
Bringing Them in for Service
Reports about millennial car shoppers indicated this generation was hesitant to purchase vehicles, but we’re learning many of these consumers are interested in buying. While many millennials lean on ride sharing and innovative transportation solutions, there are plenty who are interested in purchasing their own cars.
Their reluctance lies in returning to dealerships for routine maintenance and service, but there are several things your dealership can do to get these customers to stick with you even after their initial purchases. You’ll likely encounter some of the following with millennials; work on building relationships and earning trust, and you’ll end up with happy and loyal millennial shoppers:
- Sticker shock. In general, this generation is surprised at the cost of vehicle maintenance and insurance. It’s not so much the idea of purchasing a vehicle that’s daunting; rather, it’s all the other things that become worrisome.
What you can do: Work to educate consumers regarding the impact great car care can have on the longevity of a vehicle. While it may seem expensive upfront, diligent maintenance can extend the life of a vehicle, effectively saving money over time.
- Communication issues. Smartphones have given consumers access to information 24/7, and your service department can’t afford to miss out on communication opportunities. A recent CallSource survey found that, while there’s recently been a 15% increase in many dealerships surveyed, most feel like they aren’t managing incoming calls correctly.
What you can do: Invest in an innovative communication and collaboration platform that will ensure your entire dealership is interacting seamlessly to offer the best customer experiences. Be sure you’re answering every call, every time—and you’ll never miss an opportunity.
- Lack of trust. Millennials are often doubtful when businesses claim they need to pay for additional services, parts, or maintenance—and much of this can be attributed to their self-reliance and their tendency to do their own research. Relying on someone else’s word—or the word of a dealership—is simply outside their nature, and it takes time to build this trust.
What you can do: Work from Day 1 to educate buyers about the importance of ongoing maintenance and begin building trust. Remind your customers about any free perks you offer, such as free diagnostics or battery tests, windshield wiper installations, or tire rotations. These go a long way toward showing your dealership isn’t just out to make a buck.
- Afraid of add-ons. While millennials are expected to have about $200 billion of spending power beginning in 2017, they’re still wary of being caught off-guard with additional unexpected fees. If they go in for an oil change, they don’t want a surprise transmission flush and alignment to go along with it, so they hesitate to take their vehicles to the dealership.
What you can do: Continue to work on the trust-building aspect of your relationships by offering transparency in your communication. If you do an oil change and notice additional repairs or maintenance are needed, offer a detailed printout of your suggestions, accompanied with pricing, so customers can make informed decisions regarding their next steps. By presenting information in a low-pressure, informative way, you’ll earn trust and, likely, future business.
- Rely on online reviews. Consumers today, especially younger generations, are turning to online social sources to look for advice, get feedback and product reviews, and make decisions. This means they’re online discussing your dealership and your service department before they ever drive onto your lot. In fact, a recent study confirms 93% of millennial shoppers generally read online reviews before purchasing products, with 97% confirming they trust anonymous online consumer reviews.
What you can do: Establish an online presence for your dealership and interact regularly with consumers on social platforms. Not only will you build relationships that lead to more sales, but you’ll also be included in conversations that will help boost your brand. Don’t forget to pay attention to online review sites like Amazon and Yelp, and be prepared to respond to consumer feedback to show your dealership’s positive, proactive personality.
Your dealership has an opportunity to appeal to the largest generation in the U.S., a generation that continues to grow and thrive. Millennials are not only inspiring change; they are driving change—and businesses that get to know them, work with them, and earn their trust will thrive. These consumers are smart, and they look at things a little differently. They’re looking for dealerships that can openly share information, give honest input, and pay attention to their needs. When you convince millennial consumers your dealership is different than all the rest—and when you show them you’re embracing the changes this generation is bringing—you’ll win business for your service department and for your dealership as a whole.
Latest posts by MD Team (see all)
- Serving Up a Win-Win: Make Your Customers #1 to Be #1 - November 2, 2017
- The Changing Appearance of Customer Service - October 26, 2017
- U.S. Auto Sales on the Rise for the First Time in 2017 - October 4, 2017