New socks, the latest book from a favourite author, an iPad, and sports equipment are all on the Christmas wish list, as well as a new car. Unfortunately, the tiniest fraction of those new car wishes will be filled by the jolly man in the red suit. Even though cars wrapped in huge bows aren’t a massive part of your year-end, you need the sales floor to kick into high gear once you turn the page on the calendar.
January isn’t typically the busiest month for car sales. In fact, data from Statistics Canada shows it’s probably the slowest month for most dealerships. But that doesn’t mean it’s a time to kick up your feet. Rather, it’s an opportunity to prepare and start 2020 on the right foot.
Certain types of car sales are more common than others in the winter months. Don’t expect casual evening shoppers to flood your passenger car lot. For example, you’re more likely to be retailing a fleet of SUVs or trucks than convertibles. And when those customers come a-calling for a new vehicle, you need to be prepared to close the sale.
Here’s what to anticipate for January and how to make the most of it...
1. Say hello to post-holiday splurges
No one has a true statistic of how many cars are given as a Christmas gift. For most people, such a major purchase just isn’t feasible. Yet, there is a select number of customers that will come in after the holidays to pick out a new vehicle they were promised as a gift or to make up for a spectacular fail of some kind over the festive break.
For this clientele, you should keep in mind that it’s a splurge but is almost guaranteed to still be a practical purchase. It’s unlikely you’ll be selling ‘halo’ or ‘flagship’ models. Rather, your usual model lineup is still in play. Being a splurge, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to take the buyer up a trim level than they’d usually purchase, but it’s always a good idea to keep quality pre-owned models at the ready too.
For a successful sale, show the buyer the model and trim that fits with their wants and needs assessment. Then, put it alongside the upgraded trim level to offer an ‘either-or’ choice instead of a ‘yes-no’ decision.
2. Stock up for safety-focused shoppers
It’s smack-dab in the middle of winter where engines won’t turn over and batteries tend to die. Breaking down in winter isn’t just annoying, it’s dangerous. A stranded motorist is keen to replace their unreliable vehicle after as little as one frustrating winter breakdown because they don’t trust their car.
It’s not just bad form to play on the customer’s fear of further car troubles, it destroys any trust you have established. Instead, salespeople should focus on reinforcing the positives about the newer model they’re showing such as ADAS systems, the fresh warranty period, and creature comforts for winter.
Your winter sales, especially in the harshest Canadian climates, will be dominated by pickup trucks and SUVs. Ensure that your inventory is well stocked with new & pre-owned four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models. Since these aren’t extraneous purchases, you can expect this clientele to gravitate toward the lower trim levels.
Another great touch, if possible, is to allow the shopper to keep the vehicle overnight. That way they can experience a cold start and establish confidence in the vehicle.
3. Be prepared for more collision replacements
Unfortunately, another reason many of your first-quarter customers are coming in is to replace a vehicle lost in a collision. Insurance claims are 49% higher in December and January, and write-off vehicles are usually replaced right away.
These customers are feeling forced to make a purchasing decision on the fly. The best thing you can do for them is to streamline their sales experience as much as possible. Offer replacement transportation until their new car is ready to take home as the insurance payout can often take weeks. Acknowledge the poor timing of the transaction and make yourself available to help out however possible, such as a valuation letter to help in their insurance settlement.
4. Optimize your subprime department
Since January is a quieter month, why not use the time to set your dealership up for non-prime success?
In Canada, between 20-25% of car-shoppers struggle to get approved for auto finance. Some dealerships and lenders aren’t equipped to work with these customers.
But Canada Drives can set your dealership up to serve the subprime market. And we’ll deliver premium leads to help you boost revenue and grow your dealership in 2020.
From multi-store franchises to small, family-owned businesses, we help dealerships in all regions and of all sizes to sell more vehicles. We also provide ongoing day-to-day support along with educational workshops and expert sales training to help you close more sales.
So, start the year strong with Canada Drives! One of Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies, we deliver steady lead flow to hundreds of certified dealerships nationwide. And we’re always looking to expand our network!
Contact us to learn how becoming a dealer partner can boost your bottom line.