A Changing Marketplace: What’s Your Dealership Gonna Do?

Things change.  We all know that.  And when things change, businesses either figure out a new game plan and persevere—or they don’t.  But your dealership isn’t going to shy away from change or back down from the challenges in front of you.  How do we know?  Because you’re here!  And you’re making a plan.

That’s what successful dealerships do.  They plan.  They look at the big picture, and they figure it out.

The Challenges

One of the biggest challenges facing the industry today is that shoppers approach car-buying differently than they did in the past.  Consumers are more focused on features, long-term needs, and the longevity of vehicles.  In addition, they have more transportation options than they did in the past.  Ride-sharing services and urban populations that aren’t as interested in owning vehicles contribute to changing buying trends.  Younger buying generations are also paying quite a bit of attention to cost, and when available, many opt for public transportation.  Add to all this the fact that consumers are holding onto their vehicles longer, and it’s clear dealerships have some work cut out for them.

While these challenges may cause dealerships to pause and scratch their proverbial heads for a moment, they shouldn’t be alarmed.  This just means it’s more important than ever to earn shopper trust, be in-the-know regarding the latest vehicle features, and leverage cutting-edge technology to build customer relationships and gain an edge over the competition.  You can win over today’s shoppers; you’ll just have to do your homework.

Changes in consumer perspective and shopping behavior offer an exciting opportunity for dealerships to position themselves as leaders in the industry.  Step up and demonstrate to shoppers you are aware of their changing needs and show them you’re a trusted expert who is ready to adapt to their needs.

Benefits for Dealerships

Your dealership has the opportunity to communicate the benefits of vehicle quality and longevity to consumers, improving the likelihood of making sales and gaining loyal customers who believe in your brand.  However, if they’re buying cars less frequently, how can you continue to thrive?  Check out some of the easiest things you can do to leverage changing shopper behaviors to benefit your dealership:

  • Share quality content regarding makes/models with consumers. You offer cars that stand the test of time, so be sure you offer easy-to-access content that describes vehicle features, offers top-notch comparisons, and shares customer reviews.  Be sure consumers can access information via your dealership’s website, eliminating the need to go to a third-party website.
  • Turn your shop into a service and repair destination. Whether customers are planning to hold onto their vehicles for a year or 10 years, you’ll gain credibility and trust by providing quality service that’s a necessity for every vehicle owner.  Be sure to communicate specials and deals to entice customers to return to you and ensure they keep their vehicles in tip-top shape for as long as possible.
  • Let consumers know you’re on their side. Present incentives and opportunities when the time is right for individual customers.  Instead of pushing sales to every customer at every visit, be sure to do your homework and find out which customers are in ideal positions to trade.  When you share information about available upgrades that could potentially save them money, you’ll build trust and keep your customers coming back.  Look to powerful platforms like AutoAlert’s AlertMiner to help you pinpoint specific opportunities that are already in your database.
  • Involve customers in your platform. Much like your friends and family, the people you interact with and know the best are the ones who are most likely to return, both to your online sites and to your showroom.  Be sure to show them some love by asking their opinions, interacting with them online, and paying attention to the things that drive them and inspire them in the marketplace.  By building relationships with your customers, you’ll be better able to respond quickly and efficiently as a dealership and provide exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Be the dealership that meets shopper needs. By being a presence online and in consumers’ day-to-day interactions, you’ll be able to see what people are looking for; and in turn, you’ll be able to meet more of their needs.  Are shoppers looking for service centers with longer hours?  Are they in the market for lunch-hour oil changes?  When you find out what shoppers are looking for, you’ll be a step ahead of the competition, and you can provide what’s missing in the market.

While it’s true consumers are driving a changing marketplace, it doesn’t mean your dealership is less visible to shoppers.  Instead, it’s more important than ever for you to reach out and create positive reasons for customers to stay connected.  By building shopper trust, you’ll build relationships that lead to loyal customers.

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