The way car dealers do business has changed. You’re already well aware that what worked less than a year ago isn’t as effective as it used to be – or it isn’t possible at all. The sales process has taken on a whole new complexion.
But rather than just hoping that buyers walk through the showroom doors, car dealers need to evolve in order to reach more customers. Techniques range from basic marketing principles to in-depth digital strategies. How can you win new business amidst a pandemic? Here are 10 strategies to help your dealership sell more cars during (and beyond) the COVID-19 era. How many are you currently employing?
1. Accelerate your digital marketing efforts
Finding new customers online is essential in today’s automotive market. With the right team and digital marketing plan at work, your brand will reach the right people at the right time.
But digital marketing campaigns require constant attention and adjustment, and many dealerships don’t have the resources for a dedicated team. Dealerships should be looking at building out their digital marketing team, or if that’s not in the budget, outsourcing these efforts to a marketing agency or specialized lead provider.
2. Be ready to be first
If everyone is competing for the same customers, are you planning to reach them first? When new manufacturer promotions roll out or your COVID restrictions change, be ready to deliver your message before anyone else.
That means structuring marketing campaigns and keeping them in your back pocket so there’s no delay on launch day. When your message is first in the customer’s inbox, you get small-scale First Mover Advantage, establishing brand recognition and loyalty – two keys to higher traffic and better close rates.
3. Stay in touch with customers
Olympian Matt Biondi said, “Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.”
In sales, that means reaching out to prospects on a regular basis, even when they’ve turned you down in the past. It needs to be done tactfully so they don’t demand to be removed from your mailing list, but if you have their previous consent for communication, use it!
Messages could be softly phrased, such as, “I don’t know if you’ve purchased yet, but if you’re interested, this special deal is happening right now.”
Try infusing a sense of urgency in your language like, “There are only three days left to save!”
Feel free to experiment with a few different approaches depending on where you believe the customer is in the funnel.
4. Create a geofence
If you’re planning to invest in a more nuanced digital marketing strategy, have a conversation about targeting customers with geofencing. These types of ads detect intent based on a customer’s location. You can use it at your own dealership to send special offers to window shoppers.
You can also use it to target buyers that are in or near a competitor’s lot. Think about it; what better customer to target than a shopper that is clearly intent on buying a vehicle? What you’re doing is giving shoppers another option before they’ve completed their purchase at another dealer.
5. Offer unique promotions
Making your promotions stand out above the competition is bound to be more effective than running the same old message.
But what does that look like?
In today’s retail climate, that could include social agendas like a Doggie Adoption Drive along with a local shelter, or a “choose your charity” donation event. It could also be online giveaways for seasonal events like back-to-school, Halloween, or Christmas. Get creative and playoff things in your neighbourhood. You’ll meet local clientele you haven’t met before.
6. Text messaging
The read rate for text messages is 97% within 15 minutes of delivery. Can you think of a more effective medium? And with 80% of the total population texting on a regular basis, the spectrum of clientele is covered. It’s an efficient and cost-effective platform for reaching out to prospective buyers and legacy customers who prefer not to talk on the phone.
COVID or no COVID, the dealership can be an anxious place for shoppers. Selling through text messaging lets the customer stay somewhere they are comfortable and feel more in control. You can still guide the direction of the conversation, but it will be without the guarded front that some shoppers put up over the phone or in person.
With a casual-yet-professionally-worded text message, prospects are bound to see a notification within minutes, and they can reply to texts on the go or wherever they happen to be. Through text, customers can view images and video of the car, negotiate price, and share documents needed to get the deal over the finish line.
7. Showcase your disinfection protocols
Roughly nine months into Canada’s pandemic response, consumer sentiment is still anxious and hesitant. It pays dividends to let car shoppers know what you’re doing to keep them safe with excellent preventative measures as outlined by federal and state authorities.
Many customers aren't likely to take a chance meeting people outside their social bubble unless they feel you’re doing your part to keep staff and customers protected.
Update your website’s COVID-19 banner and highlight your meticulous standards where shoppers will see it. Create content around your efforts to build trust and peace of mind. If customers still won’t leave their homes, offer other solutions that don’t include visits to the dealership, such as remote buying and vehicle delivery.
8. They ask, you deliver
Likely, your store is already offering remote sales that include off-site test drives, vehicle delivery, and F&I document signing, but do prospective buyers know about it?
Customers will appreciate this offering more than you imagine, especially during a pandemic. Those who want it will immediately choose your dealership over any dealer that either won’t offer vehicle delivery or does not highlight this offering in their messaging. Include this service in all your digital marketing efforts where all prospective customers will see it and take note.
9. Diversify & explore new markets
Adidas used to only sell shoes, Amazon started out selling books, and Lamborghini used to specialize in tractors! Sometimes, to win new business, you have to evolve and explore new markets.
By adding a new target market to your strategy, new opportunities will emerge with potentially minimal changes to your day-to-day operations. For a dealership, this could look like expanding your inventory with new brands, new vehicle types (SUV, pickup, electric), or adding a service department. It could also mean tapping into the new credit markets (prime, subprime, etc.)
10. Add value with strategic partnerships
Forming a strategic relationship with the right partner can be the difference between a profit and a loss.
Whether that partnership is with a carmaker, parts supplier, cleaning service, digital marketing agency, or lead provider, dealers should always be on the lookout for relationships that make sense in the current climate.
If your goal is to sell more cars, Canada Drives is the nation’s premium lead provider that can help your business tap into new markets and attract new customers almost effortlessly. Using proven digital marketing strategies and state-of-the-art infrastructure to collect and distribute leads in real-time, Canada Drives is the partner you can rely on to win new business and boost your margins.
Why partner with Canada Drives?
Real-time Leads: Leads delivered in real-time means the customer is ready to buy now. Leads are delivered securely to your inbox within minutes of the customer applying, giving you the best chance at closing the sale.
Exclusive Leads: Leads are exclusive to you. Each customer is assigned to one dealership only, giving you the best chance of closing a sale with minimal competition.
Consistent Volume: We generate hundreds of thousands of quality leads a year, providing customers to dealerships in every state throughout the year, so you can rest assured your orders will always be filled.
Pinpoint Targeting: Leads filtered by location ensures that the customer lives within your chosen market. Whether it is by province, city or zip code, our precise targeting will deliver the most relevant leads possible.
Ready to talk? Reach out and chat with one of our account managers today!