Before they ever step foot on a dealership lot, auto consumers know what they are looking for, so, how can you attract them to your dealership over others in the area? Dealerships looking to grow and thrive need to connect with customers not just for their next vehicle or repair, but also to become the business they, their family and friends see as the one they trust above all others.
Here are a few ideas for positioning your dealership to earn that title.
1. Knowing Your Staff and Customers
Besides making for a more positive work environment, having long-term employees is a great way to distance yourself from the competition in the eyes of your customers.
When your staff has a relationship with the customer, they don’t have to start from the bottom building a rapport. The process goes smoother, and each visit builds upon that relationship. When your customer feels like they know you — when they can go to “Mike” to fix their vehicle, rather than just “make a service appointment” — they’re much more likely to be loyal to your dealership for their next maintenance, next repair and next vehicle purchase.
2. Your Sales Approach
By listening to your customers’ needs, hearing their story and helping them select the right vehicle, your dealership can bust the car salesperson stereotype. When customers come onto your lot, the vast majority are ready to make a deal, or are at least serious about buying. Applying pressure only sets up an adversarial situation. If you demonstrate you’re on their side and don’t try to close the deal before they’re ready, you become their advocate.
3. Your Company Culture
There are so many factors outside of your control — economic conditions, decisions by the manufacturer, competitor’s programs, weather and so on — that impact your business. One that you are in complete control of, however, is your dealership’s culture. How do you treat your team? How do your team members treat each other?
Cultivating a team-focused atmosphere is the best way to ensure your valuable employees stay under your roof. Building this workplace means having a vision you can share with your team where all will see the fruits of their efforts, creating opportunities for your team to grow and making the dealership an enjoyable place to come into every day. Your team will see you in the leadership role, working alongside of them. And yes, you may have to retrain or remove certain employees who consistently bring morale down.
4. Your Reputation
No matter how careful we are with our processes, or how hard we strive to serve our customers’ needs, there will be times when things don’t go well. With online review sites, a bad experience can be shouted far and wide to thousands. When deciding to do business with your dealership, either for sales or service, most consumers research you to see what others’ experiences have been. What will they find about you?
While there are companies out there that will monitor your online reputation, there are some simple things you can do to protect your dealership online. Regularly look at popular review sites to see what’s being said about you. If you find someone with complaints, contact them and see if there’s a way to make it right.
5. Social Media and Community Outreach
Never neglect the role of branding in your overall marketing strategy. When the community is familiar with your dealership — for good reasons — it’s that much easier to be at the top of their mind when it comes to buying or servicing.
One of the best ways to connect with your potential customers is to have regular, relevant content on social media that they actually want to read. Instead of flooding your feed with vehicles for sale, post links that might be of interest, such as recall information, summer/winter car preparation or other items. Also, don’t forget the tried-and-true methods of connecting with people — sports team sponsorships, charity drives and other ways that show you’re a caring, vital, stable part of the community.
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