With auto showroom traffic down, here's how to make the most of those customers
Auto buyer behavior is changing, but there is still ample room to impress customers and make the sale.
Dealing with trends in the market is all part of running an auto dealership. Of late, these patterns have heavily involved technology and the Internet, hardly surprising in a world that has become connected by countless online links.
The shift toward digital interactions is especially significant to you as an auto dealer because it is a huge change relative to the classic model that has defined the market - in-person browsing. This face-to-face interaction style has receded somewhat, and it's important you acknowledge this trend and work to adopt methods and systems that will thrive in a system with less foot traffic.
"Capturing consumer attention is more important than ever."
The modern market
A recent New York Times piece delved into the reality facing car dealers today. Whereas hitting the pavement to visit local car dealerships used to be a prominent early step in the purchasing process, the newspaper revealed that fewer customers are making that in-person effort today. Before they leave the house, consumers are doing their own heavy research through online portals.
By the time a car shopper enters your dealership today, he or she is already likely to be leaning toward a particular car. The Times noted that sometimes, buyers have done so much homework, they can conjure up facts the showroom staff doesn't know. This is a problem if viewed through a traditional lens, of course - fewer browsing shoppers, less chance to influence their decisions. However, digital kiosks can provide the critical information sales staff need to collaborate with buyers. There are still buyers who are eager to spend money to upgrade their cars and presenting all the options in a fluid and compelling manner allows ample room to make more sales.
The article also noted that dealerships have taken on "the high-tech atmosphere of an Apple store." Within this new presentation style, there are chances to service buyer needs and address their questions with the focus on the customer experience. This attitude is reflected in the way staff members are being trained to greet potential customers. The Times explained that the selling process is now very transparent, defined by easy and open discussion between buyer and seller.
Modern shoppers are not visiting the dealership until they are somewhat informed about the options.
There is still a need to come into the dealership and see cars in person and test-drive them - as Edmunds Chief Executive Avi Steinlauf told the news source, "You're still talking about the second-largest purchase most people make. Many consumers want to touch the vehicle, sit in it, smell it."
Capturing consumer attention during these visits to the sales floor is more important than ever, as such trips are not occurring during the speculative early stages, but much further along in the buying process.
Customer engagement through technology
While technology may be keeping some shoppers home, letting them shop from their couches, IT products can keep the in-person customer experience compelling. This is where solutions such as interactive kiosks prove their worth. Buyers who may not be ready to speak with staff members can continue their thought processes through large, easily accessible touchscreens. Then, they can learn more from employees equipped with handheld versions of the same software, deployed via tablets.
Customer service has always been about giving consumers an atmosphere that puts them at ease and convinces them a purchase is a good idea. Technology on the dealership floor can accomplish this feat.