People don’t love buying cars.
People love driving cars.

Going fast. Showing friends and family. Personalizing with accessories. Even the new car smell. You can buy it in sprays, little mirror trees, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. No one feels nostalgic for the “low” payment or the warranty. They love the experience that is uniquely part of owning a vehicle. So why are dealerships continuously and relentlessly focused on everything but ownership?

People Hate Buying A Car

“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly 100 years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was 100 years ago.”
–Dr. Ian Robertson, Head of Sales & Distribution at BMW

This is what so many dealerships resist to acknowledge and are even slower to correct. They remain focused on their experience (lot layout, funneling an up, trade evaluation, price negotiation, finance, etc.) instead of the experience of their customers. Most other industries have already recognized the necessity of building an experience for the customer instead of forcing customers into an experience.

Consider these facts from a 2014 Edmunds survey:

  • 1 in 5 people said they would rather give up sex for a month than haggle for a new car
  • 44% would give up Facebook
  • 1 in 3 people would rather do taxes

That should be alarming to the automotive industry. One-third of your customers would rather deal with the IRS than you. Employees are personified as the icons of lying, cheating, and stealing. “He’s as bad as a used car salesman.”

When we meet with dealership clients, most say they want to stand out from their competition. To do that at most stores, we encourage them to look internally first. At Arkside Marketing, we have two rules we teach every client. The second one is, “never make it difficult for someone to give you their money”.

The Better Dealership Car Buying Experience

The solution is usually easy to identify. Any area where the customer is not the primary focus could be an area for improvement. Getting a customer excited is surprisingly easy for a great dealership. Expectations are already so low that exceeding them can be achieved with one or two simple actions. A dozen would blow them away!

Here are some simple changes you can make to improve a customer’s first five minutes at your dealership:

  1. Ample customer parking – Do they have to drive through rows of cars for four spots?
  2. Breathing room – Customers arrive to look at your cars, not your salespeople. Give them a 1-2 minutes to get out of the car and look around. Then send a helpful salesperson to answer questions. (If you think we’re wrong about this, read some online reviews and count how many “salesman hounded me as soon as I opened my door” comments you see.)
  3. Offer snacks and beverages – Car buying isn’t a 30 minute process. They will be there a while. Promptly offer snacks, drinks, and let them know about your play area for their kids.

Build everything around the experience of owning a car – not buying one. Your dealership is a method of delivery for a product they can buy at your competitor. You can be a dealer of a great experience. By doing so, you will generate more word-of-mouth referrals, more positive conversations and testimonials online (Facebook, Yelp, etc.) and more service drive retention. Then take those incredible experiences and make them part of your marketing. Tell the world about your success.

Don’t sell a car – offer a great car experience.


 

If you would like to know more about how to integrate your sales and marketing strategies to deliver a great car experience for your customers (and cost-efficiently for you, contact us today. Our first consultation and needs analysis is completely free.

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