Want to increase business at your used car dealership?
Remember a simple maxim to maximize your sales: If you delight them, they will come… Again. And again. And again.
The happier a customer is when they drive off your lot, the more likely they will be to do repeat business with you. Even more importantly, they’ll refer friends, family members and coworkers, who will in turn recommend your dealership to more people and so on. A small investment in delighting customers could significantly reduce your marketing costs over time because you’ll be bringing in more “free” referral business than you can handle.
People today have selective memories. They generally only remember their best — and worst — shopping experiences. You can see evidence of this in the ratings and reviews people leave online. The vast majority of them are stellar or devastating. That’s why it’s no longer enough to meet the needs of your customers. Even if you’re selling a ten year old economy car, you must deliver the same awesome experience you would if you were selling brand new luxury sports cars. This is true whether the experience happens in person, online or a combination of the two.
Here are seven things you should be doing to delight customers.
1. Deliver top tier service.
Superior service is at the very foundation of delighting customers and getting them to come back for more. Incentivize everyone at your dealership to deliver consistently great customer experiences, whether it’s in the sales process or financing operation or service department. Train people on how to get the simple things right time after time after time. Make sure everyone is helpful and never overbearing. Reward employees who go the extra mile for customers. When so many used car buying experiences go wrong every day because dealers don’t care, complete competency will go a long way toward burnishing your dealership’s reputation.
2. Offer “extras”.
Once you get the basics right, it’s time to figure out how to take your customer experience to the next level. It should start the second a used car shopper encounters your dealership online, in social media, or steps onto your lot.
Make virtual buyers feel welcomed by offering a human chat function to help them through your digital experience. When people visit your lot, assign a customer care representative to greet everyone and make them feel comfortable until a sales rep is available to work with them. This includes doing things that will appeal to different types of visitors, such as:
- Providing a variety of complementary refreshments.
- Offering easy and free wifi access.
- Providing toys for kids to play with in a COVID-19 safe space.
- Having television sets with plenty of entertainment offerings.
For your virtual customers, make your website an awesome interactive experience, not just a utilitarian digital sales tool.
3. Make things easy.
Life is hard during normal times. It’s even more so during a pandemic. It’s why you must make every aspect of your customer service process simple. Help people find the perfect car for them quickly and easily whether online or in person. Make the test drive safe and efficient by ensuring all vehicles are completely disinfected and ready to go. Once shoppers find their ideal ride, streamline your loan and deal closing processes — again, both virtually and at the dealership.
Make taking possession of vehicles quick and easy, whether it happens on the lot or when it’s delivered to the buyer’s home. Take things to the next level and surprise customers with a small thank you gift inside their car, perhaps a gift card for a cup of coffee to enjoy on the ride home. Include a personal message as part of the delivery process. It should convey your sincere appreciation for their business and remind customers that you’re there to help them whenever they need support. Extra points for hand-written notes, which add a human touch to buying a car.
While these “extras” might seem a little costly, they are definitely less expensive than spending marketing dollars trying to find new prospective customers.
4. Offer a (limited) FREE maintenance program.
Almost as much as being surprised and delighted, people love free things, including oil changes, tire rotations and inspections. Offering free service for one year after purchase will help transform one time used car buyers into long-term vehicle maintenance customers. This will provide you with additional opportunities to provide superior service in your shop, while keeping your dealership top of mind when it comes time for people to buy again.
5. Develop a customer loyalty and referral program.
So, what do you want customers to do? Of course, it’s to get them to come back again and do business with you AND recommend other people, as well. Why not reward them for doing those things? It’s simply a matter of transferring some of your marketing dollars into a loyalty and referral program. Something as simple as offering people a free car wash or oil change, which costs your dealership relatively little, could pay off many times over in repeat business and referrals.
6. Treat customers as friends.
Make it clear to your customers that they’re not just numbers, they’re people you care about. This will help your dealership become a more valued part of their lives.
Have you thought about doing things like:
- Tracking service history with specialized software so you can provide customized service reminders?
- Thanking buyers with a framed photo of them in their car?
- Sending birthday cards to regular customers?
All these things help buyers feel that you care about them as more than just a customer.
7. Do something no one EVER thought of before.
Remember the best date you ever had? You were probably surprised by something unexpected that had never happened before in your life. Why not do the same thing for your prospective and current customers?
What would make people smile?
- Free delivery of their vehicles to their homes?
- Use of a tablet device when their service appointment takes a little extra time?
- Maybe some balloons on their car when it’s delivered to them all clean and shiny?
Your imagination is your only limit. Think of your customers as friends or family members and do whatever you can to delight them. It will keep them coming back. Again. And again. And again.