It doesn’t take much digging to uncover what’s the big story in automotive retail these days: online car shopping. For the last two years, there’s been plenty of industry chatter about the digital solutions transforming the way vehicles are bought and sold. It’s not just a huge story, it’s THE story.
But when it comes to specific components of automotive retail’s existing infrastructure, the industry has been pretty quiet about providing best practices. Such is the case for business development centers (BDCs).
So let’s turn up the volume. Critics believe BDCs and digital transacting solutions aren’t compatible, that they’ll be replaced by online shopping tools, that they’ll become obsolete. That’s not the case.
As shopper behavior changes and potential customers submit fewer traditional leads, Digital Retailing can elevate BDC performance and breathe new life into the conversations that representatives are having with clients. Online customer communication is central to a successful digital retailing strategy, which makes BDCs and this new approach to selling cars a natural fit.
Here are six digital retailing strategy tips BDC reps can apply to accelerate deals and deliver the buying experience shoppers have sought for a long time:
1. Direct calling customers to your website.
True, mobile’s tap-to-call feature might make it easier to call a car dealership than ever before. But a phone call isn’t the most efficient way to begin the fairly complicated process of buying a car. Digital Retailing is. All it takes is some guidance to get customers from point A, a phone call, to point B, your dealership websites where they can use digital retailing tools.
In the old days, the industry subscribed to a “get ‘em in the door” mentality. Today, it’s more like “get ‘em to your website because it offers the shopping experience customers are looking for anyway.” A little longer to say, sure, but accurate, honest, and far more effective.
2. Help shoppers “skip to the front of the line.”
Let shoppers know that with your digital retailing solution they can do much of the work that used to involve submitting paperwork and waiting at the dealership. It’s now all possible, and drastically quicker, from the comfort of home or wherever potential customers are shopping for cars. Bake this into your follow-up. Make it a part of your distinct competitive advantage.
3. Introduce Digital Retailing as a “Saturday visit alternative.”
Saturdays can be a tricky day of the week for car dealerships. It’s a weekend day, of course, which means most people will have it off of work, therefore having the time to come to the dealership. And for dealers in a blue-law state, the drive to get to the dealership on Saturdays is intensified as the window of buying is that much smaller on the weekends.
Let your BDC be a part of your strategy to maximize weekends by introducing a fast weekday evening purchase experience as an alternative to spending hours in your store on Saturdays. This demonstrates your commitment to customer convenience and allows your retail sales consultants to focus on new opportunities and fresh ups.
4. Ask for confirmation, not an appointment.
A traditional lead comprises a phone number and an email. It’s not much to go on to make an appointment with that customer.
Digital Retailing requires shoppers to provide you with more comprehensive personal information. Respect this and reflect it by using talk tracks that:
Confirm you have shoppers’ secure information, and that you can submit it directly to lenders.
Confirm that your dealership is set up to efficiently serve shoppers based on this time saved online.
Ask for a time to confirm the car and sign paperwork.
5. Empathize with shoppers and make the conversation about experience.
As a BDC rep,
you’re not directly in sales, and you’re not a customer – you’re somewhere in the middle.
Use this to your advantage. Based on your store and your level of empowerment, have a conversation with shoppers about your personal experience the last time you bought a car. What did you feel? How long did it take? Shoppers will connect with you through the car-buying experience, and you’ll begin to build a strong relationship.
In this conversation introduce that your dealership uses technology to streamline the car-buying process. Car shopping should be fun. Encourage your shoppers to do the busywork of car buying online, so they can come to the dealership ready for the really fun part: the test drive!
6. Share your customers’ Digital Retailing stories on social media.
Everyone loves a great story, and there’s no place better to share your car-buyers’ success stories than on social media. It’s easy, engaging, and far-reaching. It’s also advertising for your dealership without feeling like advertising.
BDCs and online transacting tools like Digital Retailing can do more than just co-exist. Uses strategically, the two can thrive in an automotive retail symbiosis – a powerful two-pronged approach to connecting with customers and enabling them to shop the way they would prefer, all while earning greater profits for your business in both the short and long term.
Questions or comments about Digital Retailing, either for your BDC or dealership? Check out our other Digital Retailing material in the Dealer.com Insights Center, or connect with us in the comments section below.