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4 Things Every Dealership Can Do to Prepare for Future Success

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Article Highlights:

  • Your dealership may be successful now, but the future is always uncertain.
  • Never stop investing in change.

Right now, your dealership is successful and running smoothly. That’s a great first step towards ensuring future success, but there’s always more work to do.

Automotive retail is an ever-moving, ever-growing industry, and being satisfied with the status quo and resting on today’s accomplishments can diminish your chances of future success. It’s like the tortoise and the hare—stopping to celebrate what you’ve accomplished can let your competition get ahead, even if they progress at a slower pace.

Having the foresight to think a step or two ahead can help you set the foundation now for an even brighter future. Here are four ideas forward-thinking dealerships are considering:

 

  1. Understand there’s no such thing as the ‘right’ way to buy a car.

Today’s automotive customers have high expectations for what the car-buying process should look and feel like. With blended buying options, it’s important to understand that – from one customer to the next – this ideal buying experience won’t look the same. Your sales team can make consumers feel comfortable by letting them take the lead and show you what they want out of the purchasing process (besides a new car).

Some customers will likely want a helping hand to guide them every step of the way, but others might want a more hands-off approach, opting to do everything online. And a large majority will want a flexible approach that might move from online to in-store at any time. Consumer preferences are going to continue to change, and finding ways to be accommodating now can do a lot to increase the likelihood of a repeat purchase later down the line.

 

  1. Train and cross-train.

Dealerships often spend huge amounts of money to implement new technology, but many fail to invest in ongoing training to ensure they’re getting the most out of their tools and people.

Teaching your employees different “crossover” skills from other parts of the dealership is a great way to invest in the future. Processes can become more efficient when everyone knows how to do another person’s role in addition to their own, like when sales knows how to use the tools in the BDC or when parts counterpeople can open and close ROs. Your staff will have an increased understanding of what the ‘big picture’ looks like and how they can complete their tasks in a way that’s more efficient for the next person in the workflow.

For larger projects, it’s also a great idea to work with an experienced team of consultants. With extensive knowledge of different systems and years of experience, consultants can offer expert advice and show you the parts of your dealership that, with a little bit of work, can operate at the next level.

 

  1. Increase communication and set departmental goals.

Every employee has a part to play in each transaction. As a leader, it’s important to have a pulse on what’s going on at your dealership, like any concerns or problems your employees face or pieces of your process that are working really well to name a few.

Increasing communication with your staff can not only help you effectively monitor the overall financial health of the dealership, but it can also help you uncover areas that could improve for better long-term performance. The general manager could meet with F&I to discuss current CIT times and what can be streamlined for faster funding and less back-and-forth with lenders. The entire shop (parts and service) could meet to discuss campaigns, technical service bulletins, and priority assignments to build comradery and ensure everyone has an up-to-date understanding of what’s going on.

It’s also a great idea to set departmental goals to talk about in these discussions with your teams. Like many other retail industries, automotive can see high rates of employee turnover. When you set specific goals, it gives employees (especially the rookies) something to work toward and decreases the likelihood of them jumping ship. Set numbers for BDC appointments, new and used car sales, lease sales, accessory sales, or profit margin targets for the parts and service departments.

 

  1. Be willing and prepared to change.

The automotive industry has overcome a lot, and not all of the challenges we’ve faced have been predictable. For example, no one could have predicted that parts shortages would limit used car inventory for years after the pandemic. That said, how you react in these situations can make a big difference in your future success.

You won’t always be ready when a new challenge arises, but it’s important that your dealership is prepared to adapt when necessary. If you find your current process of doing something is no longer working, don’t be afraid to make a new process.

 

The automotive industry is incredibly resilient, and that’s not by chance. Dealerships are great at finding new and innovative ways to improve the car buying process. Not all change happens overnight, but implementing some of these ideas can help ensure you find success in the years to come.

There’s no time like the present to start pushing your dealership forward if you haven’t already. And if you’re unsure where to begin, let Reynolds and Reynolds help!

For more on training and system use improvement, contact Reynolds Consulting Services at 800.657.9784 or email us at consulting@reyrey.com.

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Reynolds Consulting Services

Sean, an associate since 2013, bringing 16 years of automotive retail experience to Reynolds and Reynolds. His background includes roles as a recon specialist, parts and service manager, used car manager, general sales manager, and wholesaler. Sean initially joined Reynolds on the Consulting Team, where he traveled across the country assisting dealerships in implementing new processes and enhancing profitability. In his current position as Reynolds Performance Manager, Sean collaborates closely with teams to identify opportunities and drive efficiency and profitability through ongoing coaching and training.

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