When Steele Volkswagen was given the opportunity to provide some tickets to Halifax Mooseheads game, they asked for assistance. Together we put t a plan in place to do some social marketing to promote the tickets and event.
Doing these sorts of promotions will allow dealers to grow exposure and help grow their number of followers. It allows for measurable results as well with how many people share the image, comment and overall engagement.
Automotive Dealers focus on sales – moving metal from the dealership, hitting monthly targets and ensuring continuous growth. They know how to sell once a lead enters the location but always have challenges getting people into the dealership. One focus needs to be on Automotive Email Marketing.
Google Think Dealer
One part that I found interesting was that they defined a “pause” part of the sales process. Where people are simply overwhelmed with information about the vehicle options, models, manufacturers and options available for customers.
At this point, the customer (lead) may have collected some information about their next potential vehicle. They have watched YouTube videos, read multiple reviews, visit the manufacturer web site and dealership web site. They may have even taken the potential vehicles for a drive. However, the notion of making the purchase has them in a position of uncertainty for moving forward with the decision.
Email marketing allows dealers to follow up on a regular basis. Automotive Email Marketing uses timely content to ensure that your message is read by the prospective customer. Ways to do this include triggers, timings, monthly specials, and more technologies.
Automotive Email Marketing
If a lead comes in on a specific model use content that is readily available for you such as your YouTube videos, PDF brochures, web site content and reviews. This gives the person ways to educate themselves more on the vehicle options, specs, safety options and more!
Automotive Email Marketing involves much more than a salesperson sitting at their desk sending out emails once in a while. All the time hoping that they get a response from a lead. They may not have heard back from in a month and the crickets are chirping!
Technology allows for decisions based on how customers interact with the emails sent. For example, if one sent and the customer clicks on a link to visit the web site. This allows for tracking of the interaction on the site but also can trigger another email to be sent as a follow-up.
When a customer sends in an email request to the dealership – there is typically a process of a couple of emails sent out from a salesperson, but not a defined process by the entire dealership itself. Of course, every dealership has a rock star that does amazing follow-up. They work hard to do all tasks in the CRM and regular emails. This is a rare occurrence though as most salespeople do one, maybe two emails and that is the end of the process.
Using an outside vendor allows for a way to continuing to work leads that may have been marked “dead” by the sales team. There are ways to do this include using automated email marketing, sending based on data. For example, if a contact is interested in a certain model than emails focused on that particular model are send out. It can get more involved with email sending as well. Target people based on what they click on in the email. Send an email with a link to a video on safety features, follow up with an email that highlights the safety of the vehicle.
The key to sales in the automotive industry is ensuring that you are staying in front of customers. Automotive Email Marketing can be done by salespeople manually or using automation can do a lot of on behalf of the dealership.
Paused Customer State
As seen at the Google Event there is a time that leads become “paused” when it comes to a purchase decision. The causes of this are based on a few factors by the lead. It can be based on simple indecision by the person that submitted their information. So if they are reviewing multiple models in a vehicle class it can mean there is a lot of information, videos and data they have consumed in the process. When the customer is in this state, simple timing can be everything. At this point, it is key to ensure that communication is occurring with new and relevant content.
As the dealer, you know that if a person is looking for “Sadan A” that there other comparables in the market as well with the competition.
CRM software is only one component of Information Technology.
Information Technology (IT) should comprise all hardware and software data solutions; marketing and communication systems; and most importantly the design, testing, application and refinement of the methods of implementation.
In other words, IT is not just software and hardware, it is the central philosophy and methodology underlying the coordinated application of technological assets in the search for efficient growth.
- Maximize the capitalization of internet prospects
- Maximize the capitalization of global corporate data
- Minimize the Internet and/or BDC departmental overhead
- Reduce third-party lead referral costs
- Increase captive lead frequency
- Strengthen ancillary revenue streams – parts, service and merchandise
- Exploit horizontal market opportunities
As such, a CRM platform can not be considered – in itself – an efficient vehicle for growth. Rather, the coordination of CRM with all other IT assets, in concert with a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy – across all franchises (and beyond) – remains the key to attaining and sustaining a superior level of efficient growth.
With this in mind, the evaluation of any piece of hardware or software should include it’s the ability to:
- Work properly
- Accommodate strategic goals and processes
- “Talk” to other systems
- Be easy to use and understand
- Work quickly
- Work securely and privately
With regard to personnel, the ideal IT manager should not only possess a reasonable knowledge of hardware and software systems but also a strong grasp of the retail marketplace, in addition to marketing and communications strategies. The IT manager will consolidate all technological assets and (working in conjunction with the principal(s)) develop new strategies facilitated via this nascent consolidation of data sources and communications systems.
Moreover, the IT manager is the most important piece of the puzzle; for it is through this key employee that all data and communications pass, all systems unite; and the successful, efficient utilization of this amalgamation via strategic marketing initiatives is dependent. No other single employee has the potential to control so much, and through doing so contribute so much.
In closing: Where most have welcomed and quickly capitalized upon technological advances in communication, the automotive retail industry – obstinate and myopic – has barely capitulated.
Hence, the opportunities just over the horizon may be considered for those who endeavor.
Increase Customer Interaction
Staying in touch with each customer throughout the year can help you increase business, by keeping your dealership in customers’ minds and by providing them relevant information when they need it. It could take many hours each day to do this manually, but if you have an automated marketing and communication solution it can take as little time as a few hours at the beginning of every month.
With automation, once you create the basic messages and decide how you want them to be sent that’s really all you need to do. Your customers receive messages that are relevant to their needs and also you are able to maintain consistent contact with hundreds, even thousands, of customers easily. So what types of messages should you create?
You knew this had to be the first one. Seasonal sales and special promotions help drive dealership business more than almost any other kind of message. Customers love a good deal, especially if it’s exclusive. You can offer special deals to customers from Sales Managers who choose to sign up for your email newsletters, as an incentive. Your promotional messages can go out to all your customers or you can have personalized promo messages sent to each customer based on their type of vehicle and maintenance and purchase history.
Whether it’s an oil change, tire rotation or just overall maintenance, often customers need a friendly reminder. Auto maintenance is not the first thing people think of, and they will be much more likely to book an appointment on time if they receive a message letting them know that their vehicle is due for maintenance. These notifications are sent out automatically to each customer based on the vehicle history and data that is stored in your DMS. Each customer receives a message exactly when they need it.
Once they book the appointment, you still need to ensure that they don’t forget about it. Too often, dealerships lose time and money due to customers not showing up for their appointments. Rather than taking the time to contact each customer manually, let automation take care of all the tedious details to ensure that each customer knows exactly when to show up.
A survey is a great way to find out what customers really think of your dealership and see if there are any areas that could be improved in order to grow your business. Surveys can be sent out automatically after customers come in for service or to make a purchase. With the click of a button, customers can submit valuable feedback that is automatically organized for you to review.
Safety and Maintenance Tips
Automotive marketing that focuses solely on promoting new vehicles and upcoming sales is becoming a thing of the past. More and more, customers want educational resources that they can actually use. Sending out tips that can help customers learn about their vehicles and how to take care of them builds credibility in your dealership, and increases customer loyalty. Customers learn that your dealership cares not only about selling them vehicles and parts but also wants to help them maintain their vehicles for a long time. A friendly text message or email now and then providing you with helpful information that you can use every day cements the belief that the dealership is focused on you as a long-term customer.
The amount of time it takes to prepare a proper and profit-making service menu is more than one might imagine! This process involves research of one’s costs, pricing surveys, and so on. The time involved could be 60-70 hours! That’s a great investment of time, but considering that menus are, without a doubt, the number one source for selling maintenance in your Service Department, one doesn’t have any other choice but to expend the time and energy to create the very best menu.
One of the most important elements of effective service menus is the “Package Price” of the varying mileage interval services. Both the dealership and its customers can benefit from the package price and it is of vital importance that your customers are made aware of the benefit of purchasing the “Package Price.” When they know the benefit-when they know that the package price will save them more money than if every service were performed separately, they will appreciate and accept the idea of the package price.
Choosing effective price points plays an important role in the marketing of the menus.
And then, most importantly, the way in which the Service Advisors present the menus completes the marketing circle. There are effective and logical ways of presenting the maintenance package. In many cases, unfortunately, some dealers decide to fill the list of services with ‘fluff’, such as the various checks and inspects that we do at no charge anyway and then increase the package price. When the package is sold, there is certainly more revenue taken in; however, do you really think customers bought this?
Better question – do you think these customers will be back or will these be the customers who maintain “dealers cost too much”?
However you structure your menu, if your service advisors don’t buy into its value, they’ll never sell it, and if it isn’t being sold, go ahead and charge $999.95 for it because it won’t matter.