After a long period of growth, automotive sales have now been declining for months. Whether your dealership has been personally affected or not, in a downturn like this, you’re probably thinking about ways to ensure that every expense is worthwhile.

One key factor to coming out on top despite the challenges is to leverage strategies that maximize efficiency and minimize cost per sale. Every ad dollar, every lead, and every marketing effort should be used to to your utmost advantage. Here are 5 tips for cutting unnecessary busywork, keeping sales costs to a minimum, and maximizing your efforts:

1. Clarify your dealership’s specific goals

tools should be helpful
Is this toy cannon helping you reach your monthly quotas? Be honest.

The first place to start maximizing resources is to figure out what your dealership really needs. Maybe you need a tool that boosts appointments. Maybe you need better follow-up with sold customers to improve retention. Whatever your goals are, focus on achieving them without getting caught up in the chase for new technology and products.                                                                                                         New technology is cool, but make sure that whatever you invest in is truly furthering your goals. Look at the tools and resources you use- are they helpful? If they’re not, can they be used more effectively so that they do? Still no? It might be time to save the time and money and move on.

2. Consider the problems your customers have. Then solve them.

Along with focusing on your dealership’s goals, zero in on the goals of your customers and ask yourself: are the tools and processes we use actually helping our customers- and by helping them, boosting our business? If so, excellent. If not, they’re probably not worth your time.

Your customers face many steps and decisions on the road to buying a car. From researching their next model to finding directions to your showroom to figuring out financing, there are pain points galore- and each one is an opportunity for your dealership to outshine the competition. Do you have helpful tools on your website that make customers’ lives easier? Is your website easy to navigate? Is your phone number prominently displayed, and are messages answered immediately?

Any marketing effort that does not provide real solutions for customers, or worse, makes the process harder- popups that distract and overwhelm, chat that does not answer questions, automations that ignore customers’ expressed interests- are not worth the time or expense.

3. Leverage your data to get the most out of existing CRM leads, service ops, and sold customers 

You know that customer retention is key to profits, but the stats are staggering: getting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping the ones you already have. The good news is that using the data already in your system makes moving customers along the buying process and retaining them post-sale much easier.

For example, when a lead comes into your CRM, you can likely see not only what offer they converted on, but how many times they’ve visited your site, what other pages they’ve viewed, and how much time they have spent browsing. All of this information is extremely useful for your team in reaching out for effective follow-up. It enables them to speak to customers’ real interests, avoid repetition, and make customers feel valued.

happy customers lead to retention
This is the smile of a person whose dealership texted to check in.

Another way to maximize your data is to keep track of sold customers and make sure to follow up with them when it’s time for service or repairs, or just to check in and see if they need anything. Use the data you have to guide later follow-up: a check-in text, an email campaign. Making this effort maximizes your hard work of building a customer base, saving you time and money long-term.

 

 

 

4. Personalize

Dovetailing with tip #3, make sure all your interactions with customers are personalized. Personalization- both in your store and online- is one of the most important ways to maximize your expenses in today’s marketing world. Customers expect unprecedented levels of personalization and convenience, but they respond to it, too. 48% of customers spend more when personalization is provided- and 65% of businesses report improved conversion rates as a result.

It’s intuitive, really:  customers whose needs are met have the best reason to buy from you and keep coming back. So make sure to personalize your website with smart targeting technology, tailor your email campaigns to reach shoppers at every stage, and ensure that your salespeople are as responsive as possible.

5. Create a great fixed-ops experience

What truly sets you apart in a highly competitive age is the experience you provide for your customers, and this is especially important for fixed ops. Customers who come in for service and repairs are often stressed, but if you provide a great experience, your dealership can become and remain a hub. People want to come back to a dealership that is convenient and pleasant, so creating that positive experience aids retention in a serious way.

 

Sales might be down, but there are plenty of ways to maximize your efforts and marketing dollars- and even thrive- in the economic climate. Place a laser focus on customer experience and problem-solving so you stay ahead.

Discover more ways customer service can help your dealership thrive with our micro-podcast!

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