OK, I get it. I need more leads. I also get that I need to set a high percentage of appointments. Oh, yeah, I need to confirm those appointments so they’ll show up. While I’m stating the painfully obvious, I might add that a pound of flour makes a pretty big biscuit.
Now what? The carefully crafted shown appointment is here. Obviously, it’s time to shovel out the same mediocre experience we’ve been hurling at disenchanted customers since the invention of the Sharpie. Think again. A recent Autotrader study showed that a whopping 17 people out of 4,002 really dig the current car buying process. Yee-haw.
Why do we work so hard to procure a shown appointment yet fail to prepare for their arrival? If your dealership is closing less than 45 percent of your shown BDC appointments, keep reading.
Being in the car business, fast-food restaurants know me by name. Occasionally, however, I’ll dine in a swanky restaurant that requires reservations. Nothing makes me feel like a baller like a maître d’ greeting me with “We’ve been expecting you, Mr. Benites. Right this way. I’ve chosen the perfect table for you with a beautiful view. May I interest you in a beverage?” I don’t know about you, but I’m walking a little taller and my experience is off to a great start. Somebody is getting a tip worthy of an Instagram photo.
I’ve also been to restaurants where the bubblegum chewing hostess, as she’s finishing an important text, gives me the ever-popular, “How many?” and then proceeds to tell me that they’ll see if they can get a table cleaned off.
But I digress.
We all know the customer is physically only going to visit about 1.3 dealerships. Mathematically, you really have to suck to get your butt kicked by the other .3 of a dealership.
When we first started our BDC, we found our processes broke down at “the show.” I remember our agents wandering around the dealership asking salespeople, “Are you busy? Do you want this BDC appointment?” Meanwhile, the customer is wondering what happened to the friendly and attentive people who coaxed them into the appointment? If their good online experience isn’t enhanced when they arrive at your dealership, you’ve wasted your hard-earned marketing dollars. Buy an inflatable gorilla instead.
Welcome to the Big Show.
It’s showtime. Out of all the places your customer has shopped online, they chose you. It’s now time to roll out the red carpet. If you want to increase your shown BDC appointment closing ratio, here are some things to remember:
1. Preparation — Know what type of vehicle the customer is driving to the dealership. Make sure the receptionist or greeter knows as well. Have their name on an appointment board. Approach them warmly and tell them, “We’ve been expecting you.” Have the vehicle they’ve requested, along with an alternative, parked up front, clean and ready to go. Hang a “Reserved for Mr. and Mrs. Smith” sign from the rearview mirror. If you live in Minnesota, have it warmed up. If you’re in Arizona, treat them to a cooled-down cabin. If possible, have enough information to begin paperwork; it will make the experience fast and easy. Almost three-fourths (72 percent) of customers prefer making financial arrangements online before coming into your dealership. Knowing you have given pre-thought to their visit shows great respect and makes them feel a little taller.
2. Visualization — Paint a picture of the process. We fear the unknown. Customers are no different. Take a minute right off the bat to explain how the next hour or so will go down — and then deliver. “Here’s what we’re going to do. First, let’s make sure this is indeed the car you researched online. If it is, we will drive it, and then look at your current car. That will take about 15 minutes. We will present a proposal for you to sign. That will only take 15 to 20 minutes. If all goes well, we will have you signing papers within an hour.”
3. Confirmation Over Information — Know where the customer’s head is at and join them there. They navigated the first part of this shopping process in their pajamas for a reason. They’re proving to be a tad efficient. Time savers like this don’t want to hear the old “Are you looking for a two-door or a four-door?” Help them confirm the choice they’ve made online and get moving. Also, assume they have at least as much information as you. Let’s just start by making sure that the grey leather seats look like they did online. There’s a good chance they’ll buy something different, so let them start that conversation. They will.
4. Justification Over Negotiation — Make no mistake; they like your price. If they didn’t, they would have hit the red “X” button and be sitting at Down the Street Motors right now. Don’t be too quick on the discount trigger. Your customer just read an article on howtobuyacar.com and figures asking for additional discounts is worth a shot. The majority of customers (54 percent) say they would buy from a dealership that offered them preferred experience over lowest price. Remember: Sell your pricing philosophy, not your price. This will also keep the process moving along quickly.
5. Keep Them Involved — Time will fly if you put them to work. Use interactive processes like driving with them in their trade. Keep it flowing. Leave them alone for a bit and they’ll “showroom” your face off. Next thing you know, your competition has geo-dropped a $50 test drive gift card to your customer’s mobile device and they’ll vanish like my 13-year-old when it’s time to do the dishes.
When your appointment shows up at the dealership, imagine that they are getting out of a limousine at a movie premier. Red carpet, paparazzi, the works. Greet them with gratitude and give them the welcome they deserve.