As you move toward a partial or entirely digital dealership model, there are some tools you need to help you make it work.
It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of a digital dealership was laughable. Who would want to buy a car without a test drive or seeing it in person? But technology has dramatically changed the auto dealership industry.
3D imaging lets car shoppers view a vehicle from every angle. Review sites describe how a vehicle feels and performs. Software lets us conduct business transactions without ever meeting in person. AI and marketing automation can also make parts of the process hassle-free for dealers and customers alike. There are online dealerships, and some automakers are moving toward a direct-to-consumer business.
But you can’t be part of that movement without the right tools.
The digital dealership tools you need to roll into the future
1. An automotive CRM. Yes, we are biased about the right CRM, but as you implement digital dealership practices into your routine, you need a central hub to help you stay organized. An automotive CRM can do everything from tracking inventory to automating texts and emails, scanning VINs, and managing the entire sales process.
2. A state-of-the-art website. If your website looks like it’s from 2010, you aren’t going to have much luck going digital. In part, that’s an aesthetic issue. Your buyers expect a modern, eye-catching website. More importantly, though, it’s a functional issue. Your website needs to load quickly, be mobile-friendly, and be easy to use. In addition, every vehicle on your website should include plenty of interior and exterior photos, a 360-degree video, a complete list of features and specifications, and historical information. You may even consider adding a CARFAX link to each vehicle.
3. Transparent pricing. Controversial? Perhaps. It certainly goes against the traditional dealership strategy of haggling. This also might not be the right move for every dealership. But when a certain very large and well-known digital dealership offers upfront pricing, it might be worth considering. Besides, a no-haggling approach might be a good marketing strategy. It would certainly set your dealership apart from almost any other dealership around.
4. Online financing options. To succeed as a digital dealership, you need to give customers the ability to complete the entire car-buying process online. That includes financing. Whether you opt to finance in-house or use a third-party vendor is your choice. But you will need to make sure the tools are there for customers to enter their information and get a financing offer, preferably within just a few minutes. Be aware, however, that you’ll need to be upfront here, too, about credit checks and what impact that could have on your customers’ credit ratings.
5. Live chat. Live chat is common, but much of it is based on chatbots. If you want to stand out, offer live chat on your website and have your dealership team respond to questions. Whether you run an in-person or digital dealership, customer service is still one of your most robust sales tools. And though a bot can do a lot, it can’t offer the same level of service and knowledge that your team can.
Ultimately, the secret to a successful digital dealership is to make the process as easy as possible for customers. The tools you use can help you achieve that goal. Add in some excellent customer service, fairly-priced vehicles, and modern technology, and you’ll be selling vehicles online in no time.
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