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Your Dealership’s Market is Expanding – Provide a Convenient Experience Anywhere

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Article Highlights:

  • Car buyers are coming from farther away for their preferred vehicle.
  • Offer more convenient options to customers for a competitive edge.

For most of our industry’s history, being close to your customers was key to being convenient. But in recent years, buyers traveling hundreds of miles to buy a car has become more prevalent than ever.

Perpetuated by inventory shortages, customers have decided that actually going the distance is worth the cost and time if they succeed in finding their perfect vehicle.

With this willingness to travel, dealerships need to evaluate how to provide convenience in new ways when closing a deal.

What, Where, How – the Customer’s Search for “Perfect”

For the confident buyer who knows exactly what they want, scouring the country for available inventory is a necessary first step. Now is the perfect time to review how you advertise your inventory. Is every listing on your website complete with images, descriptions, ownership history, walkaround videos, and more?

Even before visiting your site, shoppers have done their research online, using reviews and virtual test drives to decide what to buy. If they land on your inventory listing, they are very close to deciding where to buy.

Changing How Customers Purchase

This stage is where you can introduce new types of convenience, such as providing multiple options to talk with your dealership: phone, email, or chat. They want clear, quick assistance, and they expect you to keep track of these interactions so that each new one is moving the purchase forward instead of starting over at the beginning.

There are a few ways you can help the customer along the digital purchase path:

  • Send and track all conversations through your CRM, I mean all… text messages, chat conversations, emails, phone transcripts, and even recordings. As the buyer progresses, make sure all relevant information from these conversations is available to their salesperson to avoid repetitive questions or information.
  • Allow the customer to submit a credit application online and ensure all information entered carries over to your CRM and ultimately the deal in your DMS. They shouldn’t have to enter the information more than once or repeat themselves to a salesperson.
  • Better yet, start the buying process online with deal information available across all your tools.
  • Or, as many customers have come to expect, let them finish the transaction and ensure the vehicle is theirs by signing a contract remotely while meeting compliance requirements.

Redefine Convenience to Stand Out

The further along you can guide a long-distance customer in this process, the more convenient you make the deal. Additionally, by providing more of the buying process online, the easier it is for both you and your customer to commit to a deal, alleviating the risks of holding a vehicle for a customer who never shows or selling a vehicle while another customer travels to you to buy it.

Are you ready to take it one step farther than your competitors? Meet the customer half way or at their own front door. There are delivery services that can coordinate the logistics and track all the details for you.

When 13% of people have claimed they’ll drive over 250 miles to get their preferred vehicle, it’s clear that dealership markets are expanding well outside their physical lot. How will you claim a competitive advantage that surpasses price and availability? It will come down to making the experience more convenient for the customer.

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Director, Reynolds Consulting Services

Carl Bennett is the director of North American Consulting Operations and Sales for Reynolds Consulting Services. In his consultant role, Bennett teaches automotive retailers in the U.S. and Canada how to achieve higher levels of success and better results in vehicle sales and F&I. Prior to joining Reynolds and Reynolds more than 15 years ago, Bennett worked in dealerships for 15 years as a general manager, finance director, and sales manager.

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