Sustaining dealership profitability has never been more challenging. Taking a holistic approach unites the digital and traditional components of store operations and often means restructuring long-held beliefs. Outdated behaviors and processes constitute change and employees play a significant role in any plan towards auto retail digital transformation.
Gone are the days when the dealership was merely a physical space employees occupied during regular business hours. Today’s always connected, instant access environment has blurred the lines between the physical dealership and the place where leads and sales actually happen.
Professional and personal lives often run in tandem – for employees and customers alike.
As the distinction between professional and personal life dissolves, and the dealership becomes truly digital, employees are communicating with customers in unprecedented ways.
To accurately reflect their staff’s changing work experience, savvy retailers have begun to implement an entirely new working environment – the digital workplace.
By integrating the technologies that employees use (from e-mail, instant messaging and social media to HR applications and virtual meeting tools), the digital workplace breaks down communication barriers, positioning you to transform the employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation and growth.
The key to success lies in the effective implementation of a digital workplace strategy capable of driving true cultural change.
Truly adapting to the shifting retail landscape is challenging.
There are many moving parts and they seem to move more often than ever before. Meanwhile, keeping some of the status quo running smoothly is paramount.
The need for the traditional components of great customer in-store experiences is still prevalent:
- Happy, helpful employees
- Clean, welcoming environment
- Respectful interactions
- Overall delightful experience that customers can’t wait to tell others about
Merging the digital workplace approach with customer expectations signifies auto retail digital transformation.
Whether we want to admit it or not, disruption and change are upon us. Wrapping your head around a digital workplace strategy might make your brain hurt but during these times of transition, I always find it best to break down challenges into bite-sized pieces.
5 tips to improve internal infrastructure and integrate employees into auto retail digital transformation.
1. Employee Engagement
Every retailer struggles with communicating themselves via their website and social media.
The following three types of employee engagement will help you think through how you’ll approach your own employee engagement model.
- Content Brainstorming: Schedule collaboration on topics your customers want or need to know about.
- Content Calendar: Save time and your sanity by removing the guesswork out of publishing.
- Best Practices: Sharing stories, experiences and achievements improves everyone’s performance.
- Social Media Marketing: Done right, employee-created content gets very high engagement. People enjoy peering “behind the scenes” of a store. Customers connect easier when they see happy employees serving happy customers.
- Social Customer Service: In a 24-7 world, customers can reach out at any time. Designated employees can field customer concerns quickly and provide solutions within customer-preferred platforms.
- Social Selling: Leveraging the power of networking via social media can have tremendous results.
- Social Media Amplification: Employee engagement in the specific marketing campaigns, events or promotions supports your goals.
- Social Proof: Employees are considered by consumers to be “people like me.” When employees advocate for their employer, it adds a layer of comfort for buyers.
- Social Recruiting: The top talent finds its way to you through your employees.
2. Hiring Process
Employee turnover has long been an issue in auto retail. Bad hires cost dealers billions each year.
A 10-percentage-point increase in turnover will cost the average dealership $7,500 in gross profit per employee per year.
With an average dealership head count of 70 people, that means a 10-point increase in turnover costs the average dealership more than $500,000 in gross profit annually.
Improving the hiring process and retaining talent is good for the bottom line.
3. Lead Handling Process
FACT: It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 100 or 10,000 leads if you’re not effective at converting them.
Poor lead process = poor closing ratios = poor performance
Employees play an important role in lead handling – they are there to effectively execute your process.
Today’s customer has an expectation of a seamless experience. Consumers display so-called omni-channel behavior and seek experiences that are as easy, fast and frictionless.
If your lead process requires customers to…
- Use old-fashioned ways of communicating
- Spend many hours at the dealership
- Suffer through outdated technology
- To start their transaction over once they’ve come into the store – after spending 14 hours online researching for the last 3 months…
…there’s a pretty good chance you’ll lose them.
4. Social Selling Process
79% of salespeople who use social media as a selling tool outperform those don’t.
Integrating social media within the sales process sounds awesome but as many salespeople have learned, it ain’t easy. There is a specific skill to connecting with people and building value that makes the magic happen.
Buy-in and support from the top down is essential.
Over the years, we’ve heard the saying, “Customers buy from those they know, like and trust.” Social selling strategies expand on this approach and increase leads and sales.
On the path to digital transformation, it’s imperative to meet the customer where they are. Incorporating a social selling process within operations improves dealership performance.
5. Human Resources Management
Auto retail digital transformation requires culture change and that will need to be led, at least in part, by HR.
But in this new structure, HR will need to act a bit like marketing. Let me explain why…
- Using social media to attract talent requires skills in social media.
- The application process must transform from its current computer-oriented state into a human-oriented experience. Example: Applicants might like to fill in a few fields and then have access to a live person through chat or maybe even a live person via video. This is a common practice in customer service. Why wouldn’t we provide the same kind of attention to people who want to work for us and lead us into the future?
- Employee advocacy (leveraging employee social capital or personal brand to highlight culture to prospective employees and customers).
- Social media compliance. A written policy for employee use of social media should be in place before any movement is made towards digital transformation.
These tips are not everything you need but they are enough to get you started on assessing your current situation and how employees will fit into your digital transformation strategy.
For help with restructuring dealership operations, managing change, and basically leveraging a roadmap to auto retail digital transformation, click >>>here<<<. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours.