One of the biggest challenges facing the automotive industry today is the fact that shoppers now have different reasons for purchasing vehicles. Consumers are more focused than ever on features, long-term needs, and the likely longevity of vehicles. For dealerships, this means it’s even more important to earn shopper trust, be in-the-know regarding the latest vehicle features, and leverage cutting-edge technology to gain an edge over the competition.

These changes in consumer perspective and shopping behavior offer an exciting opportunity for dealerships to position themselves as leaders in the industry. By stepping up and demonstrating to shoppers you are aware of their changing needs, you’ll be able to prove yourself and show you are a trusted expert who is ready to adapt.

Looking at the Long-Term

A trend that continues to stand out is that consumers are holding onto their vehicles longer than ever before. In fact, according to CNBC, the average vehicle on the road is over 11 years old. This means several things, not the least of which is the fact that consumers need to be more focused on keeping up with maintenance schedules. Your dealership can help consumers, and in turn, help its own bottom line by doing the following:

  • Post via your online social platforms when there are shop specials your customers can take advantage of.
  • Educate consumers about ways they can lengthen the life of their vehicles via routine maintenance.
  • Be aware of incentives and financing that can help shoppers trade their vehicles when they are ready.

At the beginning of last year, the average vehicle ownership length extended to 6.5 years, an increase of two full years from 2006. Plus, automakers are creating vehicles that last longer. With more features and longer lifespans, cars today are frequently surpassing the 200,000-mile mark. While it’s true that vehicles tend to remain on the road longer, your dealership can benefit from this shopping trend.

Benefits for Dealerships

The great thing is that your dealership now 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. 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 quality makes and models 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.
  • 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 incentivize your 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. Instead of pushing a sale before shoppers are ready, arm yourself with technology that facilitates guiding consumers toward a purchase exactly when they’re in the market to buy.
  • Involve customers in your platform. Think about your friends and family; now, apply the same principles you use with them to your customers. Be sure to show them some love by asking for their opinions, interacting with them online, and paying attention to the things that drive them and inspire them in the marketplace. When you get to know 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.
  • Entertain. Serve. However your dealership decides to reach out to the community, it’s important you become a recognized force within your neighborhood. Consider offering car-care workshops, animal adoption clinics, toy drives during the holidays, and other exciting opportunities for community members to join forces with you.

While it’s true consumers are holding onto their vehicles longer, that doesn’t mean you should be less visible to your shoppers. In fact, it’s more important than ever for your dealership to reach out and create positive reasons for consumers to stay connected and keep you front-of-mind. By building shopper trust—both with those who’ve recently purchased and those who may be holding onto their vehicles longer—you’ll build solid relationships that lead to loyal dealership customers.

If you’re interested in knowing exactly when your customers are in-market and ready to buy, check out www.AutoAlert.com.