While 2020 was the year that saw car dealerships face the impact of coronavirus, 2021 has bought with it fresh challenges. While businesses continue to bounce back following the pandemic, they are now finding themselves battling the ongoing chip shortage that has completely shaken the industry. And, while there’s no denying, that things are certainly looking up for car dealerships across the country, sales teams simply cannot afford to get complacent. Furthermore, it’s vital that car sales teams remain mindful in today’s market. Your team can’t afford to lose sight of what’s important to the customer if they want to continue to drive sales and ultimately, increasing revenue.
The Global Chip Shortage
The global chip shortage continues to put the brakes on recovery for dealerships, following the coronavirus pandemic. The shortage became apparent back at the beginning of this year, with it anticipated to continue into 2022 and even 2023. Rewind to last year and the impact of Covid-19 meant there was a fall in the demand for cars, which had a knock-on effect for the need for chips within the automotive industry. So, as the world started to return to normal and the industry began to pick up again, manufacturers found they were unable to order chips at the same supply level they did pre-pandemic. Ultimately, this has resulted in huge production delays, with vehicles taking six months, rather than six weeks, to get to the buyer.
On the flipside, the chip shortage is resulting in a higher demand for both new and used vehicles, which means dealerships are in a position to confidently put up their prices. In fact, it looks like higher prices aren’t necessarily turning people off and dealerships should take advantage of this.
Longer Waiting Times
As we’ve mentioned the chip shortage, and the repercussions of the pandemic mean there are severely longer waiting times for customers placing orders to get their hands on their car.
Ultimately, while the chip shortage is out of your control, how your sales team liaises and handles customer relations isn’t. Simply put, it’s essential for your staff to not neglect simple customer service, by engaging and communicating with shoppers effectively. While it’s important to understand and recognize that customers are likely to get irritated with production times, keeping them regularly updated on the progress of their vehicle will hopefully reduce frustration levels.
Utilizing the SnapCell app can hugely help in these situations. Made especially with the automotive industry in mind, SnapCell allows your sales team to seamlessly record and send regular messages to customers. Not only will this help to build rapport with shoppers but ensure peace of mind, by keeping them updated with the production of their purchase, via easy-to-create videos.
Recognizing That Times Have Changed
It’s no secret that things have changed over the past two years, especially when it comes to the customer’s needs and expectations. Dealerships and their sales team must understand and respect this.
Shopping trends have changed, with more consumers tending to access information and even buy products on the internet. With this in mind, your sales team should remember and better still, accept, that customers are likely to have done their research ahead of visiting your dealership. Whether you like it or not, customers visiting a dealership and spending half a day browsing, in person, is a thing of the past. Modern-day shoppers want a convenient customer experience, which results in them doing as much pre-purchasing preparation as possible, on the internet, from the comfort of their own home.
Plus, the impact of shopping behavior changing, means that the behavior of your sales team and their expectations should change too. In this digital age, sales teams need to be mindful that customers are likely to have done their research ahead of visiting.
With this in mind, your sales team needs to be up-to-date with the latest email, online and text policies and procedures, to ensure they can liaise with the digital consumer.
Customer Journey Remains A Priority
Although shopping habits have changed, it’s important that your sales team remember that the customer journey should always remain a priority and at the forefront of their minds.
Of course, with developments in technology and changes in buying behavior, your staff might find themselves having to adapt their selling techniques to suit today’s audience, by digitalizing the customer journey. Your sales team should weave digital selling techniques into their pitch, to make it attractive and engaging for the modern-day shopper.
Simply put, your sales team losing sight of how important the customer journey is could prove detrimental to your dealership. Whether it’s online or offline, or a combination of both, your sales team is responsible for creating a positive customer journey from start to finish, which will hopefully be reflected in a sale and drive in revenue.
And remember, customer service should be a priority dealership-wide, not just within your sales team. After all, a shopper’s experience shouldn’t stop after they’ve bought a car – in fact, this should be the beginning of their customer journey with you. Which means it’s equally as important for your service team to make sure they always take a customer-first approach, while being mindful of the shopper’s needs. Regular engagement, constant communication, and frequent updates from your service department on the status of a vehicle, will prove priceless. Again, this is where making use of the SnapCell app can be imperative for your dealership. Actively encourage and support your service team to use the SnapCell Messenger feature and this way, they will be able to provide peace of mind for the customer by keeping them updated. Plus, it demonstrates transparency and honesty from your dealership, resulting in building customer trust and in turn, is a total reputation booster. And if your service department aren’t sold on using new technologies to communicate with customers, then remind them that SnapCell is a guaranteed time-saver too.
Understanding Budgets Are Tight
While dealerships are bouncing back from the pandemic, shoppers are too. It’s important to remember that, following a tough 2020, buyers won’t necessarily have as much disposable income to spend on a new vehicle.
With this in mind, it’s important that your sales team is mindful of each shopper’s individual needs. They must be able to be a personal, relevant, human touchpoint for any potential buyers.
Don’t Forget About The Aftersales
These days, there’s more to being a car salesperson than simply selling a car. In fact, building and maintaining strong relationships with customers should be seamlessly weaved into the job description of your front-of-house team. Part of this is not losing sight of how important the aftersale is.
With fewer people traveling due to ongoing and previous restrictions, it’s anticipated that fewer people will be looking at servicing their car. With this in mind, your sales team must find ways to prioritize that after-sales service, by engaging with recent shoppers and offering them alternative products or continued support. Part of your sales team keeping mindful is seeking out and creating new opportunities for your dealership.
It’s vital that your dealership avoids sending batch emails to customers and instead tailors communications to suit individuals.
With money tight, it’s going to be harder for customers to part with cash, so keep this in mind when engaging with shoppers, to ensure relevant communications are being received.
Remember also, that with competition for business so high, a simple ‘hello’ won’t do anymore. You need to get creative with your communications. Take things one step further and stay one step ahead of the competition by making email communications super personal by including video. With tools like SnapCell available, your sales team has no excuse not to easily create customized clips that you can weave into your outgoing emails.
Working On Relationship Building
If you ask a member of your car sales team what their ultimate goal is, they’re likely to say ‘making a sale’. And, while this should be one of their goals, it shouldn’t be the only aim. It’s vital that your sales team prioritize building and nurturing relationships with customers.
Honesty and transparency are key. After all, customers can sense when a salesperson is pushing for a sale, and that’s it. Instead, by encouraging your team to work on long-lasting, solid relationships with customers, it’s more likely that they’ll return for more business in the future and better still, recommend your services to family and friends.
While it might seem unnatural, it’s important that your sales team doesn’t lose sight of showing empathy when dealing with customers. Showing empathy is often overlooked, yet it’s vital that your team shows it if they want to keep one step ahead of the competition and ultimately, drive sales into your dealership.
Changing bad habits, slowing down, taking the time to respond to queries, listening to the needs of a customer, and asking questions are all techniques your team can use to show empathy. Better still, taking an empathetic approach is a sure way to strengthen relationships with shoppers, while showing customers that you care about their unique requirements.
Look, we all know the past 18 months have been a challenge for all industries and the automotive is no exception. With businesses returning to normal, competition to make a sale is at its highest and it’s essential that your team remember that, for your dealership to succeed. External factors like the ongoing impact of coronavirus and of course, the chip shortage cannot be forgotten either. And so, delivering a positive customer experience has never been more important, with personalized engagement through tailor-made communications. Keep one step ahead of the competition by investing in SnapCell. From seamlessly creating face-to-camera videos to capturing 360-degree clips of vehicles to share with shoppers, SnapCell offers a whole host of features to help your dealership attract and engage with the modern-day customer. Get in touch with the team at SnapCell now and see how we can help your sales team take things up a gear.