In light of recent events over the past couple of weeks, the automotive industry has been forced to adapt and change to different ways of car-buying and providing essential services to their customers. With more people home, and more people consuming online content, the internet is playing a larger role than ever to influence consumers. How do you plan on standing out to your customers, provide your customers with valuable information, and communicate changes to your evolving sales and service processes?
Don’t worry, we are here to help!
At Vicimus, we have had the pleasure of working with many of our clients over the past few weeks to elevate how they operate and thrive during these uncertain times. After countless calls, emails, and strategy sessions we wanted to share with you eight tips that can help your dealership be better, smarter, and improve your customer retention efforts.
Check out our eight easy tips to communicate to your customers, which will help to improve your customer retention efforts during this pandemic and leave your customers with an excellent impression:
1. Direct Traffic Elsewhere
There is a lot of uncertainty about which businesses are currently open and which businesses are operating under revised hours. Many dealerships have made the transition into online purchasing and offering at home test drives. If you fall under this category, it’s important that the community you’re connected to is informed of these changes. Make sure you update your Facebook page and Google page, inform your website chat company of your new hours of operation, and most importantly, get the message out to your customers. Send out a communication to your database alerting them of the changes and what you’re doing to offer work-around services. Are you offering test drives at home? Do you have online shopping tools that allow a customer to buy a vehicle online? This is all important information that needs to be shared, and sometimes displaying this information on the 3rd slide within your homepage carousal, doesn’t always do the trick.
2. Communications To Your Customers Don’t Need To Include A Sales-Heavy Message
With online content consumption at an all-time high and new car sales slowing, now is the time to communicate with your customers. Whether your dealership is closed or not, this may be the best time to educate your customers and make the buying process easier for when you do reopen your doors, or start to see more traffic walk through your showroom.
Communicating sales-focused content on the current deferred payment options, or low financing rates, seems to have mixed opinions among car dealers. Some have been running their sales promotions at full force and other dealers have dialed back on their sales efforts to come across more empathetic. For whatever direction you decide is best for your dealership at this time, you should not stop from also launching other communications to your database. Try focusing on a comparison email between two popular sedans or SUVs in your lineup, provide lease-end check-lists for your customers who are 12-months away from their maturity date, or perhaps tips on how to defer an existing finance payment. This type of content provides your customers with important or interesting information and keeps your dealership top-of-mind during this time of isolation.
3. Communicate ‘By-Appointment’ Only Services
In order to promote social distancing, many dealerships are encouraging customers to visit the dealership by appointment only, or offering this option to high-risk guests who may not want to visit you during your open hours. By promoting this option, you can assist in keeping your staff and customers safe. If you have had to make the difficult choice of running your dealership with a reduced staff, appointments will aid in ensuring you have a dedicated staff member on site to assist your customers.
4. Connect Using Video
For dealerships who may have closed their sales and service departments or those who are accommodating their customers’ needs at this time, video can make a huge impact. Vehicle discoveries and meetings normally completed in person can be completed via FaceTime or Skype (or other video call providers). Even your Service department can take advantage of video by conducting vehicle inspections or communicating important work via video chat.
For example, if a technician notes a vehicle requires a brake service during their inspection, the Service Advisor can easily contact the customer via video chat to show them the current state of their brakes and discuss the importance of maintenance.
5. Cleaning And Precautionary Steps
Spring time for the automotive world previously meant full service bays and a surplus of tire changeover specials and detailing packages. If you’re still hoping to service vehicles during this time, make sure to include a sanitize special in combination with these popular services.
Communicate your enhanced protocols via e-mail, online, and throughout the dealership. Consider creating a checklist for test drives, vehicle deliveries, and serviced vehicles that shows the steps taken to properly sanitize the vehicle before the customer receives it. Ensure it is signed by both the person responsible for sanitizing the vehicle as well as a member of management. This can increase your customers’ confidence and help hold your staff accountable.
6. Continue Communicating OEM Messages
In times of uncertainty your customers do their best to avoid added risk! Reduce their sense of risk by lowering their total cost of ownership. This can easily be achieved by communicating new OEM offers, such as deferred payments or interest rate reductions.
You can even take this a step further by communicating to customers their finance or lease extension options. Build value in the after sale process by communicating your customers deferral options and how you can aid them in navigating these conversations. This will help you build a long term relationship with your customers!
Don’t forget to communicate this message to customers who may not have an updated email on file with text messages, ringless voicemail, or direct mail options.
7. Adopt An Attitude Of Gratitude
In times like these focusing on building a lasting relationship with your customers will take you farther. Consider communicating gratitude in your brand messaging and to those in your community via social media posts. Or take it a step further with actionable items, like donating to your local hospital, or sponsoring a local online event that promotes staying connected.
Furthermore, don’t forget to thank your customers for choosing your dealership. Customers love to feel appreciated! Send them a thank you email or note reminding them that you appreciate their business and loyalty.
Don’t forget to extend this attitude of gratitude to your staff as well, as gratitude is contagious.
When your staff feel appreciated they will make your customers feel appreciated. Which in turn leads to better customer retention!
8. Strategize And Plan For The Future
Don’t limit your teams future opportunities, customers will start returning to the dealership and you will want to ensure you are prepared! Utilize this time with your BDC or sales staff to fill your pipeline. Consider having staff update customer contact information at this time, examine current processes, and update training as necessary. This is also a great time to reevaluate your marketing efforts, strategize new ideas for when business is booming again, and be creative to stand out from the competition. This will help to ensure you set your dealership up for success!
Recovery will be a longer process if you are not prepared. If you are interested in discussing strategy or learning more tips on how dealerships are overcoming this pandemic reach out today!