By now, we’ve all heard the news: the automotive retail market is looking softer. New vehicle sales were down again in April, and in March, Moody’s released their global auto outlook, which was particularly bearish on the U.S. market and vehicle financing. Some dealers may be thinking back to the last market downturn and feeling pessimistic. But the good news is that even with this bearish outlook, the retail automotive space is in a very different place than it was a decade ago.
Here are three ways dealers can differentiate themselves in the current marketplace:
- Give customers a seamless experience. You’ve heard this one before, and you’ve likely embraced digital retailing so that customers can find you, identify the vehicle they want, and perhaps even settle on a price before they walk into your dealership. But what about auto insurance? Consider embracing a technology platform that can provide your customers with an insurance binder on the spot, saving them money, building their trust, and removing one of the last hurdles for those who want to drive their car away as soon as possible.
- Look for technology partners who integrate and save you time. Customers will be impressed if you can move them through the purchase process faster and with ease. If you’re looking at taking on new technology or if you’re reevaluating your existing technology, make sure that everything works together and saves you time. If one platform requires customer information, see if that customer information transfers to your F&I software for instance, reducing key strokes on your part and the need to ask a customer for information twice.
- Be willing to innovate and experiment. Automotive retailers are still recovering from their reputation as stodgy outposts in a fast-moving, fast-changing, and technology-driven world. Dealerships who aren’t willing to experiment, or who aren’t thinking of their customers first will no doubt suffer in an economic downturn. But those who stay abreast of trends and can see the value in services that provide value to their customers will be able to differentiate themselves and succeed.