Shifting auto retail operations from a strictly ‘bricks and mortar’ model to one that incorporates facets of digital commerce has not been an easy road for most dealers. Adapting to ‘digital operations’ has a lot more challenges than meets the eye.
There’s been a severe lack of information and leadership from manufacturers, leaving dealers to figure things out on their own. Unless you’ve spent a lot of time in the digital space, it’s difficult to determine the best actions to take.
I was in a Facebook comment thread recently with my friends Mark Schafer and Sean McGinnis. Mark had posted his article about the value (or not) of video marketing. He talked about how important it is for everyone to discover the content form that brings them joy FIRST before venturing out into the content marketing world.
Sean joined in by sharing an experience he had during his latest car purchase journey:
“Wanna know what video will have a huge impact moving forward? Customer experience.
In the last two weeks, I’ve had incredible experiences from a CAR DEALER’s use of video.
1. I inquired online about an undisclosed price on a used car. The next morning the sales rep uploaded a custom created video walk around of the car and loaded it to youtube. I bought the car that evening.
2. I dropped my other vehicle off at the dealer for service and the service tech shot a custom walk around describing what he had found to be right and wrong with the car. (view that video–> here )
Both times I was left with very positive feelings about both dealerships.”
Skills are needed to master digital operations.
I was eager to hear more from Sean because, to date, I’ve not witnessed a consistent, seamless, digital-to-physical customer sales experience yet in our industry.
Digital operations require a superior leadership, great management, communication skills and above all, a burning desire to deliver an outstanding customer experience. There’s still a lot of feet-dragging and naysayers impeding efforts to digital transformation.
What are the outcomes achieved with adapting to ‘digital operations’?
- Meet the customer where they are in their purchase journey (instead of making the customer conform to an outdated process that’s forced on them by the dealer.
- Provide the customer with the exact information they need to make their decision easier.
- Humanity. Warm and inviting interaction (not canned, automated responses) in order to engage the customer.
Sean shared more with me:
“I was blown away. They took that car in on trade Saturday. I sent an internet inquiry Sunday night late. She responded with a quick email with the price Monday morning. 45 minutes or so later, she sent me the email with the video.
I dragged the family 45 minutes south of work. She stayed past her 6 PM shift ending to get the deal closed and left at 9 PM probably.
LOVE her. Would buy another car from her anytime.”
This is the essence of dealership success.
Making a connection and following through with an outstanding customer experience is what every dealer strives for.
Today, that requires a concerted effort to marry current “in person” operations with digital operations.
As we’ve witnessed from this true story example, it can produce outstanding results.