During the last three months of the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen the world of automotive retailing get turned upside down. Besides learning better handwashing habits, there’s another takeaway that the pandemic brings to the industry.
One thing that has become glaringly apparent is the power of a great offer. When the OEMs announced unprecedented offers like 0 percent interest for 84 months, no payments for 6 months, and job loss protection, they rebounded the customer buying traffic faster than anything could have possibly done.
Many of our dealers now are having near-record-profit months. A lot of our dealers in the month of May posted all-time records in gross, some in profits, and a lot of this is attributed to these tremendous offers. It’s important to note that these increases took place even once new vehicle inventory levels had shrunk.
The craftiness and aggressiveness of a great hook should remind everybody in automotive retail that, beyond all things, the hook still drives the most traffic. The hook can come in many different forms. But what’s important to note from the pandemic example is that the stronger the hook and the offer are, the better traffic you’re going to get.
We love to advertise the great facilities that our dealers have spent millions building and the factory-approved showrooms that they house. We can’t forget the consumer perk packages like extended maintenance, lifetimes warranties, money-back guarantees, and premium accommodations. And then there are dealers who offer multiple products and services all in one place, with brands and vehicles to fit every need and budget. But what we have seen motivate customers during the most unprecedented business disruption in history is simply an effective offer.
People bought during COVID-19 because they saw value. Some didn’t need to buy, but they ultimately bought because the hooks, the offers, and the deals were just too good not to. That is why we can never forget the power of a great offer.
Bonus: Training Employees for a Post-Pandemic World
There has been a lot of talk about how the months-long shutdown will affect automotive longterm. The general consensus is that a larger portion of customers will prefer to buy vehicles online. This begs the question for dealers: should the structure of your staff remain the same if the structure of your sales has changed? After all, online sales require fewer bodies on the showroom floor.
One solution is to retrain the current staff. If virtual sales increase, consider training more salespeople to become internet sales experts. There is also the possibility of new positions like dedicated concierges for customer vehicle delivery and pickup. Still, other employees may serve as experts at video conferencing and creating virtual contracts. More virtual sales means more demand for technology. Investing in training a tech-savvy salesperson can make daily life easier for your dealership in the long run.
Overall, the evolving sales landscape doesn’t have to mean a smaller team. Rather, dealers can help their staff develop new skills to succeed in a digital-first sales space.
John Paul Strong
John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 140 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive Merchandising.