Management Workshop, News ,

IN ONE sense, when stripped down to the bare essentials, selling vehicles is the same today as it has always been. A customer wants a vehicle, they need to choose their vehicle, then purchase their vehicle. 

Often, they will finance the vehicle as well in some form. Then they need to have their vehicle serviced throughout their ownership of it. 

The other certainty is that the more emotionally involved they become with the purchase, for example, through a test drive, the higher the chance they will purchase the vehicle they selected.

This hasn’t changed. However, events over the past two years have helped alter how aspects of this process works. 

Firstly, technology advancements from automotive suppliers have provided new and improved products and services for dealers to utilise – both in what they provide customers and how well they perform their processes. 

Secondly, COVID-19 has had a twofold effect on how dealers provide services to their customers. Customers have increasingly wanted to perform more of the purchase and the service process online. 

Through the effects of lockdowns, dealerships have also been forced to find other ways to interact with customers. In effect, COVID-19 has encouraged dealerships to do more in the areas of e-commerce and remote connectivity with customers. 

With these elements in mind, here are five things we believe dealerships should focus on in 2022.

1. Focus on what matters

Dealerships are complex organisations with many moving parts. As in all businesses, it is easy to get distracted by the “unimportant”. 

The dealerships we regard as best practice recognise this. There is a reason that many dealerships are best-practice over many years – they understand the activities that matter in terms of success in each area of the dealership.

They focus on these activity drivers, and measure them. Every day. Every week. It keeps everyone focused on what drives success, and has a secondary effect of often eliminating many of the “unimportant” activities that otherwise exist in a dealership.


2. Create an effective online transaction process

While some of the activities that were necessary during the past 18 months were not ideal, such as remote delivery and remote product presentation, the transaction process online should continue to be a point of focus for dealerships and Groups.

In keeping with this theme, dealerships also need to focus on the ‘online to offline’ process. Ask how your dealership is handling the transfer?

These are two critical areas of the customer interaction and sales process. 

Most dealerships and OEMs have done something in this area over the past 18 months to two years. But the reality is that most of the industry is “not there” yet. 

A lot has been done, but many websites that advocate being able to purchase a vehicle online don’t really deliver, or they do as long as buyers only want to do part of the transaction (such as leaving out the trade-in of the used vehicle).

To win in this area, the business needs a holistic online transaction process that also allows a customer to move between online and offline – a true omnichannel process.


3.Improve the service experience

Dealers should also consider how online tools can assist with aftersales process and experience for the customer. The first activity should be to review the aftersales content of your website. 

Ask these questions:

  • Is the content really relevant for the customer? 
  • Does it help them with their service experience? (e.g., booking and checking the vehicle in.) 

People enjoy buying a vehicle, they don’t enjoy bringing a vehicle in for service or repair work. We should make the experience as easy as possible for them. Ensure that it is a simple process to book the vehicle in, then allow people the option of utilising an online check-in process.


4. Focus on your existing customers

For many dealers, new vehicle stocking levels for many brands will remain limited in 2022. 

Dealerships need to be proactive in their approach to their existing database to avoid customer disappointment. 

Focus on finance renewals and end-of-finance periods coming up for customers. Now more than ever there needs to be a focus on forward planning and not a reliance on the customer to do this. 

The key here is to realise and understand that these activities are not part of the standard sales process. Our experience shows that where dealers do treat these activities as part of the normal sales process, the activity doesn’t work. There should be a modified sales process designed for these activities and if the dealership is large enough it should have a dedicated sales resource to ensure its success.


5. Recruit well

Often in business we can slip into the habit of recruiting for necessity and not for the right person. We have a position that needs to be filled and we feel the pressure to fill it.

It’s important to review position descriptions to ensure the roles are being filled by the right people. Do the people we are employing have the characteristics you need? If not, what do you need to do to achieve it?

Make the right employment decisions for your department or dealership. When we make the wrong ones it places a lot more pressure on management, staff, and overall performance. 

When we make more of the right recruitment and selection decisions, we are laying the foundation for success.

We are emerging from one of the most tumultuous phases for our industry in many years. 

What will the next phase bring? No one can be certain. What we can do is take the lessons from the past two years and link them to best practices and the core activities in our dealerships. 

This will set a foundation for ourselves, our departments, and our dealerships for success in 2022 and beyond. 

At AdTorque Edge Advisory, we believe a focus on the five points we have outlined in this article will help lay this foundation. Have the right processes, structure, and customer focus in place to achieve the best you can in 2022.

By Rohan Meyer and David Brown

Dealer Auction