Nationwide, dealers are moving to digital auto sales — ready or not.
It’s a big change from a traditional dealership structure that encourages departments to operate in silos, sometimes causing coworkers to compete with each other instead of the store across the street. As dealers work to simplify operations in today’s environment, it’s smart to take a closer look at how digital resources can seamlessly link different steps of the sales process through a single point.
Dealers who do it right could be well-positioned to succeed in the long term. To successfully update your dealership’s approach, be sure to keep the following top of mind.
Make a strong virtual impression
You wouldn’t let the cars in your showroom be unwashed or parked haphazardly. Make sure your website reflects the same clean, organized look a customer would expect from a physical dealership.
Start by conducting an online audit to get a sense of how your dealership is displayed virtually. A quick Google search will provide a good idea how customers are viewing your products and services. Verify that search results are accurate and up to date. Are your hours of operation and staff photos current? Do you have promotions listed on a “specials” tab? This is a good time to update it with service and F&I specials.
Integrate F&I and sales
Traditionally, F&I was a specialized department. But, as car shopping moves online, savvy dealers are aligning F&I with the remote sale and digital process.
Income from F&I as a share of profit has been steadily rising as more dealers realize its potential. Data from NADA shows that the income from F&I departments accounted for 25.5% of total profits on sales in 2018, up from 24.9% in 2017. You may not be able to physically walk your customer over to the F&I or service departments, so it’s important for every salesperson to be comfortable explaining the benefits of financing and protection products. Just like online vehicle inventory, F&I products should be promoted on your website for customers to research and compare
Stay connected while socially distant
According to JD Power, more than 40% of Americans are reporting their financial situation has been at least somewhat hurt by the Covid-19 crisis. Customers aren’t feeling good, mentally or financially, which means it’s more important than ever to maintain the personal touch via virtual communications.
Personalize communications so shoppers know they’re interacting with a human and not a computer. Thank them for choosing your dealership and compliment their choice of vehicle. Respond to their specific questions promptly and offer opportunities to “test” the vehicle through different mediums. Find out whether your customer prefers email, phone, text or video chat conversations. These are just a few ways to make customers more comfortable with an unfamiliar process.
Making your customer feel at ease in your digital environment should remain one of your top priorities and requires some creativity. Take this time to focus on your people and make meaningful shifts that will help ensure your dealership is positioned for success in any situation.
Gabe Garroni, Senior Vice President of Sales, Ally Insurance