If you look at pretty much any human activity, it can be broken down into a set of actions that create a process. The “process” of taking your family out to dinner involves a few key components that ensure the activity goes smoothly. Do you have your wallet or purse? Have you secured your child in his or her safety seat? Did you lock the door to your house or close the garage door? Do you know where the restaurant is? If not, do you have the address? Is your parking space free, or do you need change for it?
This is a basic example, involving one or, at most, two decision makers who have a single, clear goal. Give or take a few details, we’ve all completed this process thousands of times, so we’re almost always successful at it. When it comes to your dealership, however, the processes are much more complex and involve dozens of moving parts, including a very important one: the customer. This leaves a lot of room for confusion, mistakes and inefficiency that can affect your bottom line.
Study after study shows that the vast majority of Americans dislike the car buying process and would make big changes to it if they could. This may sound like bad news, but it creates a big opportunity for you. If your customers leave your dealership with a good feeling — an unexpected good feeling — that directly results in appreciation and loyalty.
One of the reasons why more dealerships haven’t implemented and streamlined processes is that they’ve never considered doing so. There’s a certain level of “controlled chaos” in the business that’s deemed acceptable. Although some dealerships are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into creating and monitoring processes, it doesn’t have to be a big, expensive venture. There are simple things you can do to connect your team, create workflows, and monitor and improve those workflows until you have processes that allow for an enjoyable experience for everyone involved including, and most importantly, the customer. There are even tools available that do it all for you. This will greatly improve your customer retention processes.
Let’s step into a customer’s shoes to see where the process begins. Say your customer Rebecca pulls into your service drive at 10 a.m. on Saturday. What should happen first? We all agree that she should be greeted immediately, but what comes after that? It’s a bit of an unknown because every customer is unique. The good news is that you can create processes to automate workflows where every customer is handled the right way every time.
We’ll continue with the same example, using a simple workflow. Rebecca pulls into the service drive and, if you’re using a proper workflow tool, her VIN is automatically picked up. From her RO, Gene sees that Rebecca likely has a $1,120 repair on her 2013 low-mileage Honda Civic. There are intelligent algorithms and big data gathering tools available today that will determine each customer’s best offer, and Gene can instantly access that information and approach Rebecca with her upgrade offer. Let’s say that instead of spending her $1,120 on a repair to her Civic, she decides to accept the offer and use that money as a down payment on a brand-new Accord, with the same payments and term. Using his smartphone and the workflow app, Gene can transfer Rebecca to your salesperson, Matt. Oh, but Matt has indicated that he’s out for an early lunch. The request is automatically bounced to another salesperson, Jennifer, who accepts the request and immediately comes over to help Rebecca.
The sale moves forward, involving all departments and team members required, until Rebecca leaves the lot in record time in her brand-new Accord. This is great news for your used car sourcing, too — you’ve now obtained a high-quality trade-in that will turn quicker and produce more profit because you didn’t have to invest all the usual money spent on acquiring pre-owned vehicles. You also have the story on the car, which customers love.
Which makes it great news for your reputation, because Rebecca will likely leave a very positive review for her unexpectedly smooth car buying experience.
Your processes are also measureable, which means that you can monitor and improve them every step of the way. Maybe Alex in the service drive isn’t nearly as successful at converting customers to sales. Maybe the process slows down unnecessarily at the same point every time. This is very useful information for you to know and address.
Consider how this way of selling cars — sourcing from your customer base — compares with sales from third-party lead sources, where consumers searched for the lowest price and the smallest payment, leading to low or lost profit margins for your dealership.
Workflow technology and its proven processes take the negatives out of the customer experience, help you retain customers and increase your opportunities and profits. Go above and beyond customer expectations, and they’ll leave your dealership every time with a smile on their face — and the desire to come back.