Re-energising the obvious

By Mike Macaulay, Head of Corporate Sales, AutoProtect

Even those of us with a ‘glass half-full’ mentality cannot overlook the reality that 2018 will be a tougher year for many involved in car retailing. We can all see the economic and social indicators that seem set to see a contraction in sales, but rather than mulling over these, I believe it is more constructive to focus on how best to address the challenges ahead.

Having worked through a number of market downturns, the one thing that I have noticed is that very often it is those businesses which address the challenges with positivity and agility that prosper. Avoiding procrastination, these businesses typically combine good processes with creative thinking and above all, an empowered team who understand the business’ mission and the role they can play in identifying opportunities for improvements to make immediate and positive changes.

Today, certainly investment in technology and innovation has arguably never been more important, but parking this to one side; what could your business change today to improve your immediate position? What process could you develop, enhance, accelerate or eradicate and what products and services are being under-sold and under-utilised?

In my experience, re-energising the obvious starts with people. The wider team need to be more publicly led, empowered and motivated. Just showing a higher level of attention is shown to have a positive impact. Then they need to be challenged to identify the opportunities for those small daily improvements that mount up.

Those small quick wins will vary from dealership to dealership, but they are there. Opportunities to accelerate the PDI and remarketing processes, reduce stocking days, encourage customers reviews, seek referrals, all spring immediately to mind and across the business, there will be many more.

Across our area of expertise, I’m always impressed by how sales and customer satisfaction can both be improved by small steps driven by a positive approach to added-value services.

Potential customers are visiting car showrooms less often according to the Capgemini research undertaken in January/February 2017. Typically, this is to see and test drive a car they have shortlisted from digital research. When they go, they want technical experts to help them understand their options. Time invested with each customer to understand their immediate and future needs and build value in the dealership and its expertise beyond the car itself is well spent.

The Capgemini research tells us that 50% of customers want offers and information on additional services, such as insurance, compared to 38% in 2015. Taking time to explain the value of an extended warranty, GAP or SMART insurance will invariably see sales and customer satisfaction rise. It is about making the products easier to buy, not a hard sales push.

Now, that is one largely obvious opportunity that we see every day from our expert position, what other ground-floor opportunities can you unleash from your team of experts to help your business to succeed in 2018?

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