The personal relationship is still vital in business. Dealers and staff do a great job (usually) of developing the personal connection with customers, whether in sales or service.
There are a few areas of disconnect, like the online to dealership handoff, but for the most part, I believe dealerships do a better job than a lot of retailers.
Box stores are close to 100% self-service and devoid of any employee contact. Heck, my local Costco just put in self-checkout lanes! My only contact with an employee is when I show them my card to access the store and my receipt to leave the store. Target, Walmart, grocery stores, mall stores, etc., all seem to be heading in this direction.
I would liken dealerships to Apple Stores, where you are greeted, and there seems to be an employee for every 2-3 customers during the busiest times and a 1-1 ratio when it’s a little slow. (even Apple has a disconnect from online to in-store service sometimes)
Dealerships have done a fantastic job of adjusting to how customers want to do business with them. Most dealerships have many ways for a customer to communicate or interact with the dealership. Text, chat, phone, emails are all available to customers.
Many dealerships provide interactive tools so customers can check credit, trade value and even go through a basic purchase process. I think these are all great tools to get the ball rolling, but the actual asset is the dealership staff. They are the personal relationship builders that are missing in so many retail operations.
I’m a big advocate of technology for the automotive retail industry. I must admit that sometimes I forget how vital it is to make sure we, as technology providers, must help the dealerships create and maintain the personal connection. Technology that adds behind the scene efficiency so employees can be more effective at working with customers is the key to keeping the personal connection and comfort with customers.
Integrated retailing helps your sales, sales management, and F&I teams take care of the customer more effectively. The customer puts in data ONCE, and many “behind the scenes” functions start happening automatically so the team can focus on the client. Everything is INTEGRATED, so the teams just move the deal through your sales process faster and easier.
The focus is to help your team have more time with the customer while shorting how long the sales process takes. Integrated retailing doesn’t change the sales process you use. It just automates a lot of the backend work, providing your team with insights, requirements, and better direction to more quickly close the sale at maximum profit.
For example, our integrated retailing software features a Trade Tool. We built in a lender payoff quote to make this one process for the customer. The dealership is provided equity data based on NADA/KBB market value minus the payoff quote so they can start the trade negotiations based on known (positive or negative) equity. Doing the payoff quote upfront eliminates the internal step of calling for the payoff and making the customer wait to begin negotiations, which can be a deal killer if they are not responded to quickly enough.
The equity information can instantly be pushed into the credit application, and the credit application can be sent electronically to your lenders through integration with RouteOne and DealerTrack. Integrated retailing means you never have to re-enter data as the customer moves from one activity to the next in the sales process. Thus, allowing your staff to be in front of the customer longer while shortening the sales process, creating the personal attention that is horribly lacking in most shopping experiences today.
There is a lot to be said for convenience (hello, Amazon), and dealerships need to keep adding convenience features for their customers to use. However, the dealerships’ huge advantage is maximizing human connection and relationships during the sales process (and the service department) by using technology.
If you are interested in learning more about CreditIQ’s Integrated Retailing Software, please reach out to us at – firstname.lastname@example.org