Move cars off the lot faster than you can drive them
The pandemic has slowed the world down, but interest in used cars remains high. If you’re struggling during COVID-19, here are some tips to get you back on track to closing car deals.
Look back to early 2020, and most businesses had no idea how or even if they’d survive the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to CNBC, the used car market was one of the first and strongest to rebound following the initial news of the virus. Despite some challenges and adjustments to the way dealerships conduct business, which we’ll discuss momentarily, closing car deals in the used auto market continues to be successful for many.
Much like cleaning businesses and communications providers, used car dealerships have weathered COVID-19 relatively well because, just as people still need cleaning and internet services, people also still need to get around. Compound that by the fact that fewer people are comfortable with public transportation and other ride-share options in light of the highly-contagious virus, many have turned to used cars to meet their transportation needs, making closing car deals easier than it may have seemed like it was going to be at the start of all this.
Why used cars and not new ones? Cost, primarily. Many people are unemployed or under-employed, and those who aren’t tend to still be cautious with their money until this pandemic plays out. Instead of investing in a new vehicle, which could then leave people with a significant financial issue if they lose any of their income, the used car industry had an opportunity to come to the rescue.
Even so, closing car deals in this climate isn’t the same as it used to be. Let’s take a look at what’s changed.
5 Ways to keep closing car deals well into the future
1. From in-person to virtual
Perhaps the most significant adjustment everyone has had to make is the pivot from in-person interactions to virtual ones. This was a considerable concern for the used car industry—at first—because so much of the buying experience used to occur in person. Used auto sales professionals were concerned that fewer people would shop virtually.
Turns out, that wasn’t the case. Customers seem happy to do the initial shopping from home—a trend that’s expected to continue even post-pandemic. They can easily browse inventories, compare prices, and, if you’ve got the right software to help you, ask questions and engage salespeople when they’re ready.
Businesses that have succeeded at closing car deals during the pandemic have been able to do so largely thanks to the virtual experience. Throw in contactless hand-offs, home delivery, and test drives, and people are even more willing to buy from you.
2. Stay on top of inventories
One thing that did turn out to be an ongoing challenge for those who make a living closing car deals was keeping the right inventories in stock—and continuing to do so. This will be different for every business, but keep an ear to the ground to stay ahead of what customers want, considering their greatest needs right now, which tend to be cleanliness, safety, and price-tag. If you’ve been selling a lot of SUVs, for example, start looking for more now and don’t stop until the demand diminishes. With such high demand and no factory to order new machines from, stocking inventory is an ongoing factor in used car sales success, especially while COVID-19 continues on.
3. Expand your markets
Since most, if not all, of the shopping experience is now virtual, that means you can expand your market beyond your local region. Tacking an extra 50 or 100 miles to the radius of people you expect to serve can expose you to new customers and get your name on the map outside your local jurisdiction. Of course, this will only work if the cost of driving vehicles that far away is worth the return, but in most cases, you’ll likely find that it is. And expanding your markets doesn’t have to be complicated. Social media, direct mailers, and word-of-mouth referrals can go a long way here.
4. As always, incentivize
One thing about closing car deals that hasn’t changed: People like incentives. Give them a reason to buy from you. Offer discounts, free services, or other perks to help generate more interest in your offering. Find out what other dealerships are doing and try to top them, demonstrating once and for all why you’re the best dealership to shop from. It’s worth noting, too, that incentives aren’t always cash discounts. They may include extended warranties, instant financing, free oil changes, or anything else you feel might be enticing to customers.
5. Show-boat your COVID precautions
Finally, people are more likely to purchase from your dealership if they feel safe doing so. Advertise what precautions you’re taking against COVID-19, both during and before the sales cycle. You might even have an online forum where people can ask specific questions, and you can give them answers. Not only will customers appreciate that you’re doing all you can to protect them, but they’ll also really like that you’re proving yourself to be a company that genuinely cares about its customers.
Closing car deals in this new era is not without challenges, but if you look closely enough, you’ll find there are also a number of advantages.
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