Brick & Mortar Can Still Win!

Online car retailers like Carvana and Vroom have revolutionized the car-buying process. Their promises of making car-buying as simple as ordering something on Amazon and “never going to a dealership again” can be quite appealing to some shoppers, especially during a pandemic.

The good news is that your brick-and-mortar dealership still has an advantage. But there are some things that you MUST do in order to stop these e-commerce companies from gobbling up your used car profits.

First, you need to up your online car sales game. Most all dealerships already have internet sales managers and online sales features, but if your website is slow or outdated, you will lose potential customers to the guy down the street whose website is faster and more streamlined. A better website is well worth the investment. Make it easy for people to ask questions via chat and to apply for pre-approved financing. Add “walk-around” videos to your inventory. Have your sales staff literally walk around the vehicles, open the hoods, zoom in on odometers, and show specific features from the driver’s seats. Or, if your website doesn’t support that feature, add a “call to action” button so that a customer may request a walk-around tour through Facetime.

Second, in addition to your traditional media advertising, if you’re not already doing it, buy digital media that will drive shoppers to your site. Automotive digital marketing is a must. Eighty percent of car shoppers conduct research online before ever stepping foot on a car lot, so if you’re wanting to draw people to your store, it only makes sense to include digital in your ad budget. Click here to learn more about how you can take advantage of 2020 automotive digital spending trends.

Third, make test driving as easy as possible. One of the major shortfalls of Carvana and Vroom is the lack of a test-driving option. Customers must first go through the entire buying process before they can even sit in the driver’s seat. Contrast your dealership’s test-driving policies. Offer an incentive with each test drive, like buying them lunch or giving them a gift card to a local store or restaurant. And if they’re unable to come in for a test drive, or just not comfortable coming in, bring the test drive to them. Explain how every vehicle and set of keys are thoroughly disinfected before and after each test drive. Make this a “contactless” process for the safety of the customers as well as your employees.

Fourth, make sure your dealership is clean and schedule “wipe downs” several times throughout the day. We’re many months into the Covid-19 pandemic and we’re still learning new things about the virus. The allure of buying a car without ever having to see another person is why Carvana and Vroom sales have skyrocketed this year. Instill confidence with your customers by staying vigilant. Implement policies that allow your employees to wash their hands often. Set up hand sanitizing stations throughout your showroom, lot, and service department. Posts signs informing customers of CDC guidelines and what all your dealership is doing to mitigate the spread of the virus. Be mindful of pens. Yes, writing pens. Order promotional pens with your logo on for your customers to keep them after they use them, rather than having the same pens reused all day every day. And if you’re in an area that has a mask mandate, order masks with your logo on them and give them out to customers, whether they buy from you or not. Even if you do all the above, it’s important to also give customers the option of contactless sales and service, either at the dealership or from the comfort of their own homes. Let them know that you care, and that they can still have a safe and easy experience without having to sacrifice the personal relationships that are so important to any dealership’s longevity.

Finally, follow up with outstanding customer service. Carvana and Vroom may be convenient on the front end, but they completely lack any kind of service offerings after purchases are completed. Include tours of your fixed ops departments during the sale. Offer discounted packages for regularly scheduled maintenance, or occasional free oil changes/tire rotations. Buyers who utilize a dealership’s service and parts department after making a purchase are much more likely to buy their next vehicle from the same dealership. Click here to learn more about how you can maximize your profits through fixed ops.

Automotive marketing will always be essential, but in the end, it all comes down to relationships. THAT’S how you win with brick and mortar!

by Shea Posey, Senior Account Executive/Compliance & Co-op Specialist

If you missed our 60-Second Update about how you can beat Carvana, Vroom and Shift at their own game, watch it now:

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