Digital retail service providers sell dealers on their services by claiming to have a unique and perfect digital retail experience. The thought is that this is what online consumers expect after using Amazon for retail purchases. Why then do these providers pretend that the in-store experience for retail auto sales should be cookie cutter and dry? Maybe because they don’t sell on-lot or point-of-sale materials? Maybe because their desire is to have dealers reallocate funds from these places to their products? How can this not adversely affect the customer’s experience at the dealership? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Buying a car is an emotional experience, isn’t it? Today it seems like many of the digital retailers out there are trying to convince us that it is not. According to them, it is the same as buying deodorant, underwear or some other commodity online. Cars are a commodity, right? Wrong. There are some car buyers who only want the online lowest price experience, but is this the experience you want to provide to all your customers? Absolutely not. Almost all car buyers still want to test drive and feel the vehicle before they decide to purchase it. They want to have an emotional connection to their large purchase, this place where they will spend hundreds of hours.
A new vehicle becomes part of the buyer’s identity and has a connection to the driver’s ego. Why else would anyone pay 10 times more for one vehicle than another when both serve the same transportation purpose? Not to mention that the most expensive are the least useful in most transportation scenarios. Ego is a major driver in the purchase of this mobile status symbol. Emotion in the car-buying process is as alive as ever. This is why there is still an opportunity to make a fair profit on most car deals. Let’s agree for the purpose of this article that buying a new vehicle is an emotional experience for most.
Dealerships need to create an exciting environment in which to provide a positive emotional buying experience. Many municipalities don’t allow giant gorillas or even flags and balloons anymore. Most will allow pole banners and ramps. No matter how strict the rules are in your place of business, just don’t give up. Do what you can to stand out. People go to dollar stores to buy for the lowest price. Don’t make your dealership look like a dollar store parking lot. Make sure your store looks different and exciting. If you can use a giant gorilla, balloons or flags, do it. If you can’t, you need to look into using on vehicle or pole signage and ramps. Most places allow ramps of any size, so the bigger the better.
Customers driving by your dealership should be drawn in by an exciting environment. They should be able to tell the difference between your store and the dollar store up the street. It takes more than a sign to do this. Once the customers are on your lot, it is important keep the excitement level elevated. You can achieve this with car toppers and point-of-sale materials inside the dealership. The same tools listed earlier will keep the feeling alive outside. What is more exciting than a truck spinning in the air or a giant gorilla?
Online retail reduces most products to the level of a commodity. Effective search makes it easy to find the lowest price for any item. Don’t race to the bottom and commoditize your inventory. Raise and preserve the level of excitement and the same will happen for your gross profits on the front and the back of your deals.
Positive emotions lead to positive customer experiences. Happy customers lead to fair car deals for the customer and dealership. For a free list of ideas to raise your dealership’s level of excitement, send me an email with “excitement” in the subject line. Harry Siskind
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