The most demanding market conditions automotive dealers have faced in the last two decades are upon us now. This market is putting dealers’ reputations at stake as customers show up excited about the rising values of their trade-ins only to find little inventory to choose from. With inventory low and demand high, dealers are battling both ends of the spectrum – both delivering inventory to existing customers and finding and flipping inventory from customers while also delivering another vehicle for sale that fits their needs. The puzzle pieces have to fall flawlessly. With this juggling act, dealers are sure to need several extra hands. Automation can serve as several of those hands – connecting dots for customers, minimizing effort by dealers while still turning a maximum ROI. Curious how automation can help your dealership? Here are just a few ways:
1. Respond to leads to qualify and take a pulse on interest
On average, one-third of website leads are fake. Of the other two-thirds, many contain false information that prevents a salesperson from following up. Genuine leads containing accurate contact information are roughly one-third of all leads. Many of these genuine leads are searching for a specific car amongst many dealers. Qualifying and responding to leads is more than a full-time job in normal market conditions. Automation can eliminate the mundane task of qualifying and making the first (or first several) contacts with leads. Automation also can capture engagement information, so salespeople know precisely how interested a customer is, what piqued their interest, when interest dropped, and for what reasons. The results of automation qualifying leads and engagement intelligence can quash the friction many customers are frustrated with during the car buying experience with duplicative efforts. When salespeoples’ to-do lists are filled, automation can free up their time to focus on live customers instead of chasing down potential ones.
2. Deliver qualified leads when engagement and inventory match
Conquesting seems redundant when demand is high. However, when inventory is low, customers often show up expecting a particular vehicle that may have just been purchased or to look at similar options that fit their needs. In this case, dealers still need to maintain their CRM. Maintaining contact with these qualified customers is critical for future sales and upholding a stellar reputation. Through automation, salespeople can forget cold calls or follow-ups with walk-in leads that are just kicking tires. Instead, automation can collect customer information, keep track of their interests, inform a salesperson when a qualified lead matches a vehicle in inventory. So when a salesperson does lift a finger, it’s at the right time.
3. Identify used vehicle inventory from your service department
Dealers often scour old CRM records to find used inventory. Due to a lack of easy access, the service drive is typically overlooked. Up to 60 percent of the repair orders cycling through are not on vehicles purchased at that dealership. Many of these are missed deals from negotiations not working out in the past. Customers prefer to buy the car from the dealership they service it with, so the opportunity to win these customers back is enormous. Automation provides access to these customers and can connect payoffs to trade-in appraisal technologies that determine whether a customer has equity in that vehicle they just serviced at your store. It can then serve an offer to trade out of that vehicle or sell that car outright to the dealership without a human getting involved. When automation pairs with capturing how a customer engaged with the offer, the dealership now has a genuine lead with actual interest and all the customer hot-points to follow-up with a relevant phone call that results in an easy appointment.
Automation eliminates heavy lifting and, with the dealer’s input preferences, can maximize the returns on trade-in offers. Whether a dealer is looking to come up for air amid hot market conditions or looking to put the pedal to the medal, automation can take on several tasks that bog staff down and keep them from focusing on real-time customers. With the right automation technology, dealers aren’t giving up a level of control. On the contrary, dealers often have more control setting specific parameters with some tools to ensure leads, trade-in offers, and other automated systems stay within their preferred comfort zones. What’s essential is that automated tools play nice with your dealer’s CRM, and the tools don’t add additional tasks. Automation comes at varying levels, and dealers should vet any tool to ensure “automation” truly means automated.