The transition to digital has been coming and now with COVID-19 it's at your doorstep. Here's how to take your dealership fully digital. Your business could depend on it.
The first step: do a full evaluation
Take an inventory of what you already have and how far you can currently take the process of car-buying online. What can customers do on your website? Are you offering quotes, but not F&I products? Are you requiring that customers come to the dealership to meet with a salesperson? How experienced is your sales team at closing deals over the phone?
Invest in the right software. Now.
Many of the most-used dealer software tools can do what you need to make a fully online process possible. One main area not to overlook: ensure that you're including F&I products as part of your digital retailing solution so you don't miss out on back-end revenue.
Here's a few examples of popular dealer software that can help you be fully digital:
- CDK: Can deliver documents electronically
- RouteOne: Can remote eContract
- Maximtrack: Can be presented to customers on their phones / tablet
What if you need another tool for contracts? You can use a software like Docusign, which will also allow for digital signatures.
Optimize your website
The above list represents the most basic must-haves to get business done online. To really be competitive, however, you also need to look at your website in more detail. It's not just about whether it's possible for a customer to purchase through your website, it's about how appealing it is.
What are some ways to enhance your website?
- First and foremost, update messaging on your site to make it clear to customers that they can buy from you online, without leaving their homes!
- Invest in tools for high-quality photos and videos. Some examples are SpinCar, VPIX 360, and DealerImage Pro. If you can't afford new cameras, then spend some time on YouTube watching tutorials for staging great car photos. You want your customers to be in love with the car they see online.
- Make sure it's easy for a customer to get a quote for the car and their monthly payment, as well as view F&I products and even estimate their auto insurance payment. For thoughts and helpful commentary on implementing an online F&I program, you can visit this Automotive News article. For advice on factoring in auto insurance savings, reach out DealerPolicy.
Don't wait for them to come to you
Updating your website is key to continuing the conversation with customers pretty far down the pipeline. But a fully digital dealership focuses equally on drawing in new customers using digital media. Right now, you should:
- Reevaluate your online budget for SEO and paid advertising; review with your Internet Manager and consider whether you are able to raise the budget to draw in more people.
- Send emails and texts alerting customers to the fact that they can purchase online, and that you have great deals going on. Don't assume people won't be receptive to your message due to their focus on COVID-19; in fact, many people are spending more time than ever online, and your message can convince them that now's the time for them to take advantage of low interest rates, combined with other deals. If you use a digital insurance platform like DealerPolicy, you can incorporate estimated insurance savings into a lower monthly payment.
Get your team comfortable selling via video calls.
If there's anything that COVID-19 has taught us, it's that we all need to get comfortable with video conferencing. It may seem like it won't be as fruitful as an in-person meeting, but that doesn't have to be the case. A video conference like Zoom or WebEx will allow you to build rapport and gauge facial expressions just the same.
Because it will likely be a new experience, you should do practice runs with your team and role play to give them an opportunity to hone their VC skills.
Make the most of every sale
This should be something you do whether the sale is in-person or over the phone. But we all know that the urgency around being completely digital is due to COVID-19, and we know that the outbreak is reducing sales. That means dealerships need to consider every option available to maximize the value of the deal.
One way is by offering customers the opportunity to view competing auto insurance quotes as part of the process. It's a win-win opportunity that saves customers money and opens up their budgets, allowing them to buy the products from you that they truly want, whether it's more car, or more protection products. And it can be included in an all-digital experience, truly streamlining the buying process for customers.