Friday, April 28, 2017

What To Do When Dealership Sales Are Slow.


I recently visited a dealership and I talked to the general manager and asked how the store was doing. He mentioned that their sales weren't where he wanted them to be. As I discussed with him more he was given me his reasons that leads and traffic were down, and that they weren't selling as much. As I listened to him, it didn't sound like he had a defined solution yet. I felt more that he was just planning to wait till things change. This got me thinking about what I would recommend and this is what I came up with.

1. Get better pre-owned inventory. 
If you dont have the right inventory it will not bring people into the dealership and it will sit on your lot. Don’t wait for people to trade their vehicles in, find what vehicle you have had success selling in the past (High Gross + Low Days to Sell), and get more of those. Look to people you sold those vehicles new, and get those owners in to get their trade you know you can sell. Those people will need to vehicles too. This increases your serviceable customers as well. If someone comes in looking for a car you don't have, don't tell them you will call them if you get one and let them leave. Look through your sold database and try and find someone you sold that car new and get them to come in because you have a buyer.

2. Reach out to anyone who is in equity position. 
Find people who own the previous body style, and getting toward the end of their warranty that you can get into a new car for $0 down and keep their payment relatively the same payment. Look at your service drive. If anyone is bringing a car in that is out of warranty they will most likely have a costly customer pay RO. Let them keep that money and use their car as a trade to get into a new one. Call people who are in an equity position on their birthday and offer them a Birthday Special. This will also help you get more inventory.

3. Stop focusing on getting new business. 
Your dealership doesn't really need more customers. Your DMS and CRM are loaded with them. Quit focusing on trying to compete for those new customers that are in the market to buy a car. Use you own data and proactively reach out to people before they start shopping. If they have submitted a lead, they have probably submitted leads to other dealers as well and the only way to win that deal is by lowering the price and your gross.

4. Lower your web lead response time. 
Make sure that you are quick to respond. Customers are still experiencing 45 min to 2 hour response times at some dealerships because the lead goes to the wrong person. Make sure the leads are going to the right people who are working and available. Try and respond while they are still on your website. If a lead goes untouched for 15 minutes, every rep and manager should be notified and someone should jump on it. If you have to call the customer back after you talk to them make sure you tell them how long it will take and call them back as they are waiting for your call.

5. Incorporate texting. 
Make sure your customers know they can communicate with you via text. They might be in a meeting when you call them back and more likely to respond. Make sure you are using a compliant opt-in and opt-out texting tool. Otherwise you are putting your dealership at risk of a costly lawsuit. Using a texting tool allows you to track what is being communicated to the customer.

6. Make sure you are keeping your salespeople accountable
Make sure people who are visiting the store get put into the CRM. Have the receptionist keep track how many people they see pull up, walk the lot, walkthrough showroom, and even come over from service. Often salespeople only put customers into the CRM when they think there is a chance to sell them. But they came in, there is a chance. Make sure you are capture that data so that your reporting will be more accurate to tell you what is bringing people in. If there is something that is working but they are being put into the CRM you may stop doing it. Also make sure that your reps ask, “what brought you in?” or “how did you hear about us?”. You want to do more of what is working and you need to know so make sure they are asking. Make sure they are making their calls. Listen to their calls. They should be asking for an appointment and not just to come by whenever. If they are not with a customer they should be trying to get people to come in. Salespeople love the easy walk in versus working to get someone in.

7. Get managers more involved. 
Have them call and confirm appointments. This makes sure the salespeople are setting quality appointments and introduces them to the manager earlier vs at the end when tensions are high and patience is low and they come in to close the deal. Hold your manager accountable that they are managing their employees, talk to every customer, doing their one-on-ones.

8. Speed up the sales process. 
The biggest frustration consumers have with the car buying process is it takes too much time. Look for areas you can shorten the time the customer is at the dealership, it takes to desk a deal. Also keep the time away from the customer to a minimum, when the salesperson goes to the desk this is when they either start talking themselves out of the deal or shop your competitors.

9. Create the ideal customer experience. 
With so many dealers nearby that sell the same vehicle for the same price, why should someone buy from your dealership? It should be about the experience. What are you doing to make it the experience the customer wants? What do they want? Something quick, easy, transparent, helpful, and without stress. For most, buying car is the 2nd most expensive thing they will ever buy and comes with a lot of emotions. Understand their concerns and issues and deal with them before they come up. Bad reviews and surveys are OK. They tell you what you need to fix. Often dealers are more concerned with the manufacture CSI survey then they are of actual customer satisfaction. Reach out to customers who give positive feedback and surveys to go rate you on google, yelp and Facebook. Don’t ask everyone, just your happy customers.

10. Reduce employee turnover. 
Our industry has always been plagued with turnover. Most people leave because they are not happy and successful. Often, we hire anyone, even someone with no experience and have them watch some trainings and then throw them on the floor to sink or swim. Have your managers take time to train them on how to be successful. Give them tools that will help them to do their job. Managers need to make sure they are setting goals with the salespeople, going over their metrics, coaching them, and helping them realize the tools management has in please is not be “big brother” but to help them be successful.

11. Automate as much as you can.
Let your software do as much work for you as possible. Most processes you set up and forget and let it keep you organized, in contact with everyone and that nothing falls through the cracks. Run lots of campaigns that are very targeted and specific with both the audience and the message.

12. Reward loyal customers. 
Do you know your most loyal and long-standing customers? Use your CRM to identify and segment these customers to receive notifications when they call or visit your business. Create a customer appreciation campaign to thank your loyal customers and reward them for their repeat business. Offer discounts to entice them to continue to do business with you. Offer incentives for their referrals. Invite them to special VIP events, such as new product introductions or a customer appreciation party.

Thoughts? Do you agree? What else would you suggest?

Hunter Swift
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