It should come as no surprise to dealers that our industry is in a time of transition. We’ve heard about the oncoming slump in car sales for years, and yet, its arrival still stings. With this change in the market must come a change in mindset at dealerships. As an industry, we must start being more proactive in our operations — it’s time to Go Pro.
Today’s most successful dealerships are no longer waiting for opportunities to come to them. Winning dealerships are proactively seeking out new opportunities for growth across the business.
Taking a proactive approach provides new opportunities for sustained dealership profitability and growth in this post-peak market. But where do you start? When you’re so used to doing things the way they’ve always been done, a way that has worked perfectly fine until now, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out those first steps.
We’ve talked to hundreds of dealers across the country, and we’ve heard many variations of implementing a proactive approach. There is no one-size-fits-all path to proactivity, but we did hear some common threads in our conversations with top-performing dealerships. To get you started, here are some suggestions for the first steps.
Open the Lines of Communication — The very first step in creating a proactive dealership has to be making sure your departments aren’t stuck in their silos.Powerful proactive opportunities often arise from collaboration, from the insights gained from sharing knowledge across departments. Make sure sales and service are frequently connecting, and think about new ways your full team, including your BDC and vendor support teams, canwork together to build new revenue streams.
Evaluate Your Software Integration — It’s much harder to find new opportunities if you have to search five platforms with pieces of your data instead one platform with all of your data. Many dealership software platforms integrate with others, providing a much more streamlined experience for your employees and your customers, so ask your vendors what integrations are supported if you haven’t already. Even if all of your platforms don’t speak to each other, integrating even a few will make the process of mining your data for new opportunities that much easier.
Learn to Identify Ready-to-Buy Signals — Today’s car shoppers spend an average of 60 percent — nearly nine hours — of their overall car buying experience researching and shopping online, according to the 2017 Car Buyer Journey study done by our research team at Cox Automotive. In that time, shoppers often give dealerships a lot of clues that they are ready to buy, without ever reaching out to a salesperson. Understanding where specifically in your data to look for these signals, such as in the financing page or trade-in calculator on your Website, will give you the opportunity to make the first move. If you learn to read the signs customers are sending, you can provide them with relevant offers based on their actions, not just their words — a key step in becoming a proactive dealer.
While the process of creating a proactive dealership takes some work, it is worth the commitment. This change in mindset will help you long after the slowdown is over.