9 Customer Appreciation Events for Car Dealers

Retaining customers and attracting new ones can seem like a full-time job for many car dealerships. After all, there are plenty of places for local consumers to buy and service vehicles.

So how can you create loyal customers and bring in new business?

One proven way is to hold customer appreciation events. These events not only make consumers feel special but also showcase your dealership, products and services.

Customer appreciation events can help boost CSI scores, which should matter to every dealership, since the customer experience still reigns supreme.

Take a look at these nine ideas for creating car dealership events that current and potential customers will love!

1. Throw a Customer Appreciation Party

Everyone loves to feel appreciated, so extend that feeling to your valued customers with a customer appreciation party. Roll out the red carpet (figuratively or literally) and give customers the VIP treatment just for supporting your business.

You could create a VIP Event with invitations sent out to those on your customer list. Or, consider opening it up to all, with a focus on showing how you value everyone who shops, buys and services at your dealership.

How do you throw a great party at your dealership? There are many creative ways to make your customers feel appreciated, from providing premium drinks and hors d’oeuvres to party games where contestants can win prizes.

2. Help Customers Learn Something New

Consider holding workshops or events at your dealership where your team will teach attendees something new if you’re searching for new ways to show customer appreciation. For instance, a car care or detailing clinic your staff puts on could show customers how to keep their vehicles looking pristine between visits to your service center.

You could demonstrate the proper way to wash and wax a car and cover simple, affordable ways to maintain a clean vehicle interior. If your dealership offers detailing services, this could be a great way of increasing awareness of your services and attracting more business, too.

3. Host a Barbecue or Picnic

Who doesn’t love a good picnic or barbecue? Especially if it involves free food and drink! Picnics or food events create a fun and casual environment for your customers, where you can build relationships, make new friends and even increase customer loyalty.

Plus, by hosting a barbecue for customers who have previously purchased a car from your dealership, you’re not only showing your appreciation but also highlighting current vehicles on your lot.

4. Hold a Customer Appreciation Day Sale

If your dealership isn’t into parties and picnics, you can always show appreciation to your valued customers by simply offering a day where they can save big on their next vehicle or service visit.

As any car dealer knows, there are all sorts of customers, each with different views on dealership perks. Offering special discounts could mean the difference between repeat business and consumers looking elsewhere, especially for your most money-conscious customers.

5. Offer Test Drive Incentives

Whether you’re aiming to reward current customers or attract new business, a great way to do it is to offer a test drive promotion. Test drive incentives show car shoppers you appreciate them taking the time to visit your dealership to view new inventory and pre-owned inventory, alike.

Many automakers routinely offer test drive promotions, where potential car buyers can receive a gift card or prepaid card just for taking a test drive. If handing out free rewards makes your customers feel special and leads to more sales, it’s a win-win!

Of course, you don’t have to offer prepaid cards or gift cards. You could always create a game or sweepstakes where test drivers get a chance to win dealership discounts, merchandise or other prizes.

6. Host and Sponsor Local Events

Every car dealer knows that hosting or sponsoring events is a great way to increase awareness of their business within the community. Still, hosting local events can also be a way to show your appreciation to loyal customers.

Need some ideas? No matter what brands of vehicles you sell, there are likely local car clubs or car shows that would appreciate you sponsoring or supporting their events. You can even offer to host car shows and clubs on your dealership lot.

What if you want to branch outside of car-centric events? Well, there are numerous ways to show appreciation to customers and the greater community, from canned food donation drives to fundraising events for local schools and sports teams.

7. Offer Free Gallons of Gas

Your customers love a good deal, especially when it’s something different than what they can find elsewhere. Think outside the box and offer perks that you know every car buyer will use, like free gas! Instead of offering the usual cash discounts on certain cars, consider creating a free gas promotion.

Depending on current gas prices, you could offer a certain amount of free gallons of gas per vehicle purchase. This shows your customers you’re addressing their concerns about car ownership costs even after the dealership transaction.

8. Hold an After-Hours Sale

Another way to create an automotive customer appreciation or VIP event is to extend your usual business hours and offer exclusive sales and deals to visitors.

Holding a sales event on a weeknight or after hours on the weekend could help attract your customers who can’t visit during regular business hours. Not only are you providing them with special offers, but you’re showing you value their time while offering a fun and convenient shopping experience.

9. Offer Pick-Up and Drop-Off Promotions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many car dealerships added complimentary perks like vehicle pick-up and drop-off services to support a safe shopping experience. The truth is, many motorists greatly appreciate these services, regardless of any public health situations.

If you’d like to show your customers that you value their time and continued business, think about providing limited drop-off and pick-up services for test drives, vehicle purchase delivery and maintenance and repair visits.

Want More Ideas? We’ve Got Them!

If you want even more ideas on customer appreciation events for car dealers, don’t hesitate to reach out to the fusionZONE team. Our DNA is pure dealer, so we understand what it takes to keep your current customers happy and attract new ones!

Now that we’ve covered some challenges, opportunities and solutions for car dealerships in Q3 of 2021, let’s bring it all together with the next steps you can take into Q4 and beyond.

Create a Plan to Minimize the Effects of Inventory Issues

Many car buyers are shopping for new and used vehicles simultaneously, so how will you ensure these shoppers have good options on both fronts? 

From getting more aggressive with trade-in offers and cash for used cars to providing discounts on out-of-stock new models for buyers who can wait, there are numerous ways to help counter inventory shortages.

Make it simple for customers to discover their car’s estimated trade-in value via your website. And don’t forget to consider early lease termination messaging to gain more lease returns for your pre-owned or certified lot.  

Embrace Digital and the New Way of Business

As we’ve discussed here, the next phase of the customer experience in 2021 and beyond is a hybrid model of increased digitization and online shopping followed by in-person visits to your store.

Find what’s worked for your customers and your dealership team over the past year and work on refining processes to further enhance the customer experience, both online and onsite.

That could mean expanding your digital retailing offerings, maintaining customer conveniences like limited pick-up and delivery service, or simply ensuring your team is meeting the preferences of both digital-first and face-to-face customers.

Find Ways to Better Understand Your Customer Base

Consumer data privacy has been front and center as of late. 

Recent privacy pivots from the likes of Google, Facebook and other big-data tech giants mean that changes are coming to how digital marketers and car dealerships can reach potential customers online.

Thanks to recent and upcoming shifts like iOS 14’s App Tracking Transparency and the end of third-party cookies, the digital advertising landscape is getting a makeover. 

Businesses need to discover new ways to reach recurring and potential new customers.

It’s now become more vital than ever to understand your customer base, since reaching them through highly targeted, data-driven campaigns may be more challenging than in recent years. 

Knowing your customer, their hobbies, interests and reasons for shopping a particular car make or model can help your dealership retain and gain business — and even open up new markets for your products and services.

As heavy as the digital “current” flows, getting to know your customer base can and should still be a face-to-face experience. Your salespeople and service advisors are on the front lines every day and should have a good sense of current customer preferences, concerns and requests. 

Leverage your team’s knowledge in your marketing efforts. Ad copy and graphics should reflect the lifestyle, interests, demographics and common questions of your customers. 

Build and Maintain Customer Data to Reach Your Audience

With less access to user data and insights through big tech platforms, it’s time to lean on first-party data for your marketing and advertising efforts.

Leveraging your CRM and DMS data to more effectively reach your intended audience is one solution. However, relying on this first-party data means that it’s more crucial than ever to keep customer data up to date so that you can best capitalize on your advertising and marketing efforts.

Keep in contact with current and prospective customers through online ad campaigns and marketing initiatives. If they don’t buy or service with you in Q3, you can be confident they may be ready in Q4 if you’re able to make a personal connection.

Reach Out For Assistance

We hope you’ve gained valuable tips and insights from this Q3 Automotive Playbook. If you have any questions or would like to discuss any topics covered in this e-guide further, do not hesitate to reach out to the team at fusionZONE Automotive. 

We’re committed to assisting our dealership partners nationwide with their efforts to boost leads, conversions and sales online and onsite.

Motorists are often excited about upgrading to a new or newer car but dread the purchase process. Many consumers still prefer face-to-face transactions, especially for big-ticket items like vehicles, but others have grown quite accustomed to the modern conveniences that COVID forced into reality. 

The pandemic compelled many businesses, including dealerships, to rethink the customer experience, much to the consumer’s pleasure. 

From virtual tours, test drives and other digital retailing tools to vehicle delivery, customers have certainly appreciated some of the industry changes required during the pandemic.

The question is: if customers are happy with some of these changes, why go back to the old way of doing business?

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What are some recent customer experience updates that have been most popular among consumers?
  • Has an interest in pandemic-related services, like virtual test drives and vehicle delivery, changed during the gradual reopening of 2021?
  • Have these new services been costly and time-consuming to offer, or could you easily keep them in place moving forward?

These are all relevant points to discuss with your team. Your answers and solutions could play a significant role in how your dealership stacks up against your local competition in the eyes of consumers.

If you don’t have the people power to continue with such services as FaceTime virtual car tours or at-home test drives, there are other sound options.

Available dealership website add-ons like WheelsTV help consumers research and understand car model features and trim levels before visiting your dealership. 

Adding WheelsTV to your website frees up time for your customers and sales staff by providing on-demand and online video test drives from the safety and convenience of home.

Many car dealers have excelled at the customer experience throughout 2020 and 2021 by going above and beyond what most consumers expect. 

As we advance, it’s crucial to continue focusing on the customer experience and finding innovative ways to make it even more painless and convenient for drivers to buy and service a vehicle at your dealership.

And for our last installment of the Q3 Playbook, Setting Yourself Up for Success in Q4 and Beyond, check back soon for the last piece! 

The car-buying market is coming back from a very challenging 2020, but it is still a far cry from where it was pre-pandemic. Increased vaccination rates and relaxing restrictions mean more foot traffic than before, though not to levels seen in 2019 and prior.

Interestingly, there’s a bit of a paradox going on here. The market has grown in some ways because of consumers looking to avoid public transportation, but it has also shrunken a bit because of less wear-and-tear on the cars of those still working from home.

A Shift Toward Pre-Owned

Interest in pre-owned vehicles has also seen a resurgence, thanks in part to new car affordability and supply issues. 

Many consumers and families have essentially made it through the pandemic financially unscathed. However, many others have faced severe financial hardships, including job loss, costly medical bills and other serious setbacks. 

Dependable late-model vehicles are increasingly seen by budget-conscious drivers as affordable alternatives to new cars. 

With no immediate end in sight to supply chain issues and the lack of new car inventory, many consumers may prefer the availability of choice on pre-owned lots. After all, not everyone can or will wait around for the latest car model to become readily available.  

More Convenient, More Digital

Consumers have grown used to many of the newfound conveniences of car shopping during 2020 and 2021, including:

  • Digital retailing, or the ability to build a deal online before finalizing the transaction at the dealership
  • At-home test drives and vehicle delivery
  • Contactless vehicle pick-up from sales and service
  • Enhanced online car shopping tools and resources

The great news for auto dealerships is that as the car buying process becomes ever more efficient, consumer satisfaction levels tend to increase. This is an area where dealers can genuinely differentiate their operations and customer experience to win new business.  

Consider these stats:

  • 92% of auto purchasers research online. (ThinkWithGoogle)
  • The purchase journey is happening online, but the purchase often still occurs offline. (ThinkWithGoogle)
  • Buyers spend nearly half of their time at a dealership on negotiations and paperwork, and these are the two steps that 1have historically had the lowest satisfaction ratings. (CoxAuto)
  • On average, “Heavy Digital” buyers reduced their time at the dealership by more than 40 minutes compared to “Light Digital” buyers; the greatest time savings came from negotiating price and signing paperwork. (CoxAuto)
  • 61.4% of car buyers prefer to buy from a dealership. (TheZebra)

There are plenty of good times ahead for dealerships that can effectively react to consumer shopping patterns and embrace the shift to an increasingly hybrid buying experience, where both digital and in-person interaction play key roles.

Next up for our Q3 Playbook is Customer Experience Still Reigns, check back soon for this piece! 

4 Ways to Keep Your Dealership Bustling Despite Inventory Issues (1)

  • Has your dealership been struggling with inventory problems over the last few months? Then you are not alone. Across the automotive industry, new car inventory is down about 48 percent from 2020 – with trucks and SUVs hit particularly hard.
  • What is causing the global vehicle shortage? The problem began last year when the COVID-19 pandemic created production problems at plants and factories throughout the world. However, the issue worsened when a chip shortage made it just about impossible for automakers to build new cars.
  • Unfortunately, it might be a while before inventory levels return to normal. Sam Fiorani, Vice President of Global Vehicle Forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, believes it is unlikely inventory will return to full capacity before the second or third quarter of 2022.
  • What can you do to make sure your dealership continues to thrive until life returns to normal in 2022? At fusionZONE, we recommend following these steps to keep your revenue up and your showroom bustling: 

1. Source and Sell High-Quality Used Cars

  • The global shortage of new vehicles means there is probably a great deal of empty space on your lot. That empty space won’t make your dealership any money – so you would be wise to try to fill it with used cars as quickly as possible.
  • Of course, sourcing pre-owned vehicles is a little bit tricky at the moment. The unavailability of new vehicles means fewer drivers are trading in their old cars, trucks, and SUVs.
  • To get your hands on a sizable selection of used cars, you will likely need to use a variety of sourcing techniques. The following methods are among the most effective:
    • Offer to buy vehicles that come in for servicing or repair
    • Tell customers you are happy to allow them to end their lease early
    • Import vehicles from countries less impacted by the shortage
    • Send your sourcing manager to out-of-state vehicle auctions
    • Set up an online “Buy My Car” portal for your customers to use
  • When sourcing a pre-owned vehicle, try to avoid focusing entirely on your potential markup. It’s also vital to pay close attention to the quality of the car. You do not want to develop a reputation as a car dealership that sells unreliable vehicles.

2. Focus on Your Finance and Insurance Department

  • The number of vehicles you sell each month is likely to drop as the global inventory shortage continues. However, you can still keep your dealership revenue steady by increasing your per-customer income. The finance and insurance department is the best place to accomplish this goal.
  • You can increase the amount of money you make from every customer by focusing on selling the following products:
    • Extended warranties
    • Gap insurance
    • Scheduled maintenance plans
    • Paint and fabric protection
    • Payment protection
  • To keep your revenue high, you should try to ensure at least three-fourths of your buyers purchase one or more F&I products.

3. Promote Your Service Department

  • The inventory shortage has made it more difficult for motorists to buy the vehicles they want. As a result, many of them are choosing to continue to drive their old cars for another couple of years.
  • Those older vehicles will require regular servicing, and you can keep your revenue up by being the dealership to provide it.
  • You can use the following techniques to promote your service department to the motorists in your area:
    • Launch a Google Ads campaign
    • Mail out flyers detailing the services you offer
    • Add service-related videos and pictures to your social media
    • Post car maintenance tips and advice on your dealership’s blog
  • Once you get motorists into your service department, don’t forget to have a sales associate ask them if they are interested in buying a new vehicle.

4. Offer a Selection of Accessories

  • Don’t force your customers to turn to Walmart or Amazon when they want to buy an accessory for their car. By offering a wide selection of products at your showroom, you can increase your overall revenue and build better relationships with the motorists in your area.
  • The following accessories are particularly popular with drivers:
    • Phone mounts and chargers
    • Seat covers
    • Dash cams
    • Trunk storage organizers 
    • Cup holder trash cans
  • Should you decide to start stocking accessories like these, don’t forget to promote them on your social media profiles and add a dedicated page for them to your dealership’s website.

Need Help Boosting Your Dealership’s Revenue? Contact the Experts at fusionZONE!

  • Would you like some help generating the revenue you need to get through the vehicle inventory shortage? Then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at fusionZONE. We have years of experience in the industry and offer a range of products that can make your dealership thrive – even in this challenging business climate.
  • To learn more about our services, please fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (424) 232-0728. We look forward to working with you!

Just when car dealerships thought things were starting to return to normal, snowballing supply chain issues became a major headache. Various inventory issues have plagued car dealers during the pandemic, from temporary car plant closures and shuttered used car auctions to the current semiconductor shortage.

In many cases, finding dealership-level solutions to these inventory issues has been a moving target. If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that being responsive and adaptable to industry change is more critical than ever.

So, how can your team find ways to minimize the impact of supply chain and inventory issues on your dealership’s bottom line?

Let’s take a look at several tips from our industry experts and dealership partners for effectively navigating new and pre-owned vehicle inventory issues:

  1. Implement more aggressive trade incentives: What sells best in your market? Provide an extra $500-$1,000, or even something unique like a newer model year’s value, to acquire those vehicles via trade.
  2. Offer early lease termination forgiveness or incentives: Consider providing $1,000 lease loyalty rebates or mileage overage forgiveness to attract lease returns and fill your pre-owned (and sometimes CPO) inventory.
  3. Make “Value Your Trade” and “We Buy Cars” pages prominent on your website: Utilize form fills and instant vehicle appraisals to gain new car leads while also stocking up your used car inventory.
  4. Consider offering discounts for customers willing to wait for new car models: Even OEMs facing production cuts due to the chip shortage are offering factory discounts for buyers who wait. This is something that franchise dealers can consider to boost brand and dealership loyalty, turning shoppers into buyers.

Now that we’ve tackled the industry’s supply issues — something that’s undoubtedly on the mind of anyone who works at a dealership — we’ll cover some of the other unique challenges and opportunities 2021 is presenting.

Ready to get started on a path to dominate your competition in Q3 and beyond? It all starts with the customer, including their preferences and their experience interacting with your dealership.

Stay tuned for next’s week topic on Post-Pandemic Shopping Patterns!

The third quarter of 2021 is upon us. Car dealerships, like the general public, are eager to turn the page on the past year-plus of hardships and get back to a sense of normalcy.

Pandemic lockdowns, plant shutdowns, supply chain issues, and shifts in consumer demand and behavior have continued to create unique challenges for auto dealerships in 2021.

In this e-guide, our Q3 Automotive Playbook, we’ll cover some of the challenges and opportunities facing car dealers in the second half of 2021, along with actionable tips and solutions to help dealerships rise above these hurdles in Q3 and beyond.

What We Learned from Q2

The industry is bouncing back from unprecedented uncertainty, and in Q2 of 2021, we’ve witnessed several positive developments signaling brighter days ahead. However, we’re not out of the woods yet. 

Appreciating where we’ve come from and the industry’s current state can help dealerships confidently face the challenges remaining in 2021.

Key takeaways from Q2

  • Increased vaccination rates have led to easing restrictions and more foot traffic at stores. Consumers are eager to get out and about again; they’re ready to buy, too.
  • The third round of stimulus payments helped many dealerships achieve record organic website traffic in March 2021. As a result, Q2 organic traffic is likely down from a record March, but buying season is definitely upon us.
  • Sales are up and businesses are opening to full capacity as more people are becoming vaccinated and restrictions continue to loosen.
  • Many automakers and dealers lost significant Q2 new car volume due to the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage.

We may have already experienced the greatest impact of the chip shortage to production during Q2, according to consulting firm AlixPartners and other industry experts. Supply constraints are forecasted to gradually diminish through the second half of the year and into 2022.

Look forward to next week where we cover How to Overcome Supply Chain Issues! 

In last week’s fusionZONE blog post, we covered several ways to increase service profitability. This week, we’re diving deeper with even more tips to enhance your dealership’s fixed operations revenue.

If the challenges of 2020 and what’s followed have taught us all anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The auto industry faces unprecedented changes, including a shift to electrified and autonomous vehicles, as well as the digital-first age.
But few in the industry were expecting such challenges as supply shortages.

For many dealerships, fixed operations like their service department have become even more vital than ever. Most service centers produce roughly 50% of a dealership’s gross profit, and with recent shortages in new and used cars for sale, fixed ops have undoubtedly saved the day for some.

So, how can you ensure that you’re maximizing your service center’s profitability in 2021 and beyond? Here are 10 tips for doing just that!

  1. Increase upselling and lines per RO. It’s great to boost your total ROs or Repair Orders, but are you also trying to maximize the services per RO? Whether through upselling or creating bundles that customers can’t afford to pass up, there are many ways to improve in this area.
  2. Motivate your Service Advisors. Are you incentivizing your client-facing service staff to upsell or increase lines per RO? Consider weekly or monthly gift cards or bonuses to the Service Advisor that knocks it out of the park!
  3. Make your services visible online to local motorists. Depending on your market, you may be missing out on potential service center customers outside of your city or immediate area. By implementing effective SEO and targeting key serving cities around your dealership, you could attract drivers who are looking for a new service department for everything from routine maintenance to high-ticket repair work.
  4. Allow access to all of your services via your website. Are you promoting all of your top services online? Whether your auto service center is known for certain procedures or you’re looking to bring in more business for certain services like multi-point inspections or tire installation, you should make it clear what you offer through your website.
  5. Inform customers about your services through text and video content. You can educate drivers about your services and why it’s important to keep up on routine maintenance through online video and text content on your website. A customer may already know that it’s time for an oil change, but you could potentially upsell online by providing more details about other complementary maintenance you offer.
  6. Reach out to customers regularly. Utilize your customer email list, social media channels and text or SMS-based marketing to keep your customers in the loop of current promotions. Sometimes a simple reminder and a deal or coupon are all that it takes to get someone to make that overdue service appointment.
  7. Don’t forget about free marketing options. Have you updated your Google My Business and social media profiles and pages lately? There are plenty of free ways to keep your dealership’s service department top-of-mind for customers when it’s about time for a tune-up.
  8. Invest more of your marketing budget on fixed operations. It’s true that completely free marketing will only take you so far. If your dealership’s marketing budget is heavily focused on new and used car sales, consider simply shifting some of your marketing spend to the department that generates the most revenue. Or, you could increase your total budget to accommodate a greater focus on service center marketing.
  9. Promote customer loyalty through rewards. Since acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one, you’d better have a plan to keep your sales and service department customers around when it’s time for car repair or maintenance. A VIP loyalty program with rewards toward parts and service could help keep your current customers from ever looking elsewhere for oil changes or inspections.
  10. Encourage new and returning customers to convert. Lastly, your website’s service-related pages should be designed to encourage service appointment scheduling. Make it easy for customers to book a service visit, find your current offers and coupons and contact your service team with questions.

For more tips on how to increase the profitability of your service department and other fixed operations, turn to the team at fusionZONE. Reach out if you’d like assistance with enhancing your SEO, website or digital marketing initiatives.

A Guide to Increasing Service Center Profitability

Every full-service car dealership knows that their fixed operations, including their service center, are a key driver of profitability. However, an estimated 90% of dealership marketing budgets are spent on new and used vehicles, often leaving little left for marketing of fixed operations.

That’s right; while a service department typically produces nearly 50% of a dealership’s gross profit, it accounts for less than 10% of the average dealership’s marketing budget!

So how can you increase service center profitability without going all-in on costly marketing campaigns? The team at fusionZONE Automotive has the answers in this week’s edition of the fusionZONE blog.

Here are a few tips and tricks that Service Directors, Service Managers and anyone working in a dealership’s fixed operations can use to help increase profitability through the service department.

Offer a Customer Loyalty Program

Location and convenience are certainly two major factors when motorists select their preferred auto service center. Pricing is a third reason, and some drivers prefer to service where they bought their car — assuming they had a pleasant purchase experience.

But what if your dealership and service center are located in an area with plenty of convenient options for local drivers seeking auto maintenance or car repair? You can set your service facility apart from the rest with not only top-notch customer service and repair expertise but with a loyalty or rewards program.

If you’re looking to retain new or used car buyers when it’s time for routine maintenance, offer special deals for those who purchased any vehicle at your dealership, such as a free first oil change or exclusive offers on tires and parts.

Whether you decide to create a VIP loyalty program, customer rewards program, customer appreciation program — or a combination of these — service center visitors will feel they’re gaining added value and benefits for being a consistent customer.

Service Team Goals & Incentives

Are you incentivizing your Service Advisors to reach daily, weekly or monthly goals? Creating goals and even some healthy competition among your service staff can certainly help the bottom line of your fixed operations and the dealership as a whole.

Maybe you offer gift cards or other perks to the service team member who meets or exceeds a certain goal or who tops all others during a given week or month.

Whether you’re looking to promote a certain maintenance procedure or simply want to increase the average dollar spend per visit, there are ways to increase service center profitability that start with your customer-facing team.

Encourage Upselling

The next tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Upselling is a crucial component of any successful service department. Your Service Advisors are on the front lines every day, working to keep customers happy and cars moving through your service bays. And upselling should be a part of their daily routine.

Your goals and incentives can be tied directly or indirectly to upsells. For instance, maybe some of your Service Advisors excel at upsells while others simply bring in more repeat visitors or can consistently churn out higher Repair Order or RO counts.

Of course, any highly respected service center will find a balance in upselling; that is, by only promoting maintenance or repair procedures that may actually benefit each unique customer and vehicle.

Create Customer Rewards for Referrals

Did you know? Acquiring a new customer is 5 times more expensive than retaining an existing one?

Like our first tip, you can utilize rewards to attract new service center customers. Consider incentivizing current customers to spread the word about your service department with a referral rewards program.

Maybe it’s a free multi-point inspection or a service coupon for referring a local driver to visit your shop for their next oil change or any other service. Whatever it is, you’ll have to make it worthwhile for your customer; and remember, you’ll likely come out ahead if you can attract and retain that new customer!

Optimize Your Marketing Plan & Budget

Lastly, perhaps your dealership can afford to either spend a bit more on a service marketing budget or shift some of its current dealership-wide budget toward fixed operations. Considering the profit makeup of the average dealership and the significant weight that fixed ops hold, maybe an increase in the service marketing budget can lead to a substantial increase in overall profitability.

If you’d like assistance with these service marketing tips or your current digital marketing efforts across fixed operations or your entire dealership, feel free to reach out to the fusionZONE team. We’re experts in creating compelling marketing campaigns that drive leads and sales!

Coversion Rate Optimization

A 15-Minute Check Can Create More Opportunities and Sales!

Feeling like your web presence just isn’t clicking the way it used to? Not getting enough business? Worried about the competition?

Many of our customers come to us with the same questions. If you’re searching for answers, a fresh website is a great place to start.

Often, the solution is usually much simpler and is a better use of your time than a massive overhaul: your SRP and VDP probably just need to be revisited. With some minor changes, you could see a massive boost to your lead generation!

In this article, we’re going to share our secret sauce for generating high-quality leads. These are easy to do yourself without bringing in support teams.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a way of increasing the number of users who perform an intended action on a website, which can be buying a product, signing up for a service, or clicking ‘add to cart’.

Why Should You Care About CRO?

Because that’s how you sell more cars! Your operational management team’s goal is crafting your floor team into a conveyor belt that turns customers into sales. Why wouldn’t you want your website to operate on the same principle?

There is a ton that goes into a successful website and CRO is among the most important items. CRO is about the long game. You’ll find it well worth your effort.

How Do You Calculate Conversion Rates?

Conversion rate can be calculated by using this formula:

(leads generated ÷ website traffic) * 100 = Your conversion rate %!

So if your website gets an average of 200 leads and 5000 sessions (using Google Analytics as a tracker) per month, your conversion rate would be:

(200 ÷ 5000) * 100 = 4% Conversion Rate

 

What Counts as a Conversion?

This is the part that we believe some people overlook. In our humble opinion, you should only be reviewing anything that can be converted into a sale.

This means calls, website chats, and lead generation forms (inventory, finance, trade-ins, service requests, etc.) that lead to sales.

This does not mean form starts (but not finished!) or landing page views.

Landing page views and form engagement are incredibly important to building an audience profile, but they do not count as conversions.

How Do You Track Your Conversions?

There are several tools available to you that you can use to track your conversion, such as

  • Google Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Your website CMS

Ask your website provider how they track conversions and if you need assistance setting them up. They might already be tracking them as far as you know!

If you are using a 3rd-party provider for your financing applications, get in touch with your support representative and they will most likely know how to connect all of your conversion tracking tools to your analytics platform of choice.

What is a Good Conversion Rate?

Now that you understand what CRO is and how to track it, what do you do if you find out your results are poor? Do you need to change everything up or make minor adjustments?

The answer is the most important response in all of web design. Ready?

It depends.

That’s not very helpful, we know! Let’s dive in and get to a more actionable solution.

The commonly accepted average conversion rate for web leads in the automotive vertical is around 1.5%.

This number will fluctuate. Don’t panic if you’re at 1.51% and a new study comes out that says the floor is 1.75%.

Why? Ultimately, this number is useless for you. This may be surprising due to all the sales pitches from digital marketing companies. But it’s the truth.

The reason why it’s not very useful is because your conversion rate depends on several factors completely out of your control. These can be:

  • Location: Rural vs. Urban
  • Region of the Country: (the southeast of the U.S. is far more hospitable to a Get Best Price button than the northeast)
  • OEM: A Honda dealer will receive more leads than most Acura dealers. If you can afford an NSX, you probably aren’t likely to put in a lead online.

If you’re a Chevrolet dealer near Atlanta, GA, you would not be as shocked to learn that your website operates on a 10% conversion rate on web leads. If you said that you’re an Acura dealer in the northeast and you are pulling a 6%, we’d be more impressed.

Keep this in mind!

 

Your Website is Your Digital Showroom

Here are some tricks and strategies to help you improve your website conversions.

SRPs and VDPs: Keep It Simple!

First things first, a clean, simple website will usually outperform one that is a visual nightmare. If things start to look busy to you, the website owner, they are likely twice as confusing for a customer. Good UI/UX (user interface/user experience) is crucial!

In short: simplicity wins.

 

Call to Action

Automotive Dealer Inventory Calls to Actions

 

Your call-to-action (or CTA) should be readable and clickable on both mobile and desktop. These are the most important items on your site besides your inventory!

On your SRPs, keep your calls to action minimal. Remember, this is the first time a customer is viewing this inventory. Reduce your CTAs to the absolute minimum.

Customers can become paralyzed by choice and will ultimately decide to move on. If you keep your CTAs simple, it’s easier for a customer to focus on finding a vehicle with the right price and less on all myriad of options and considerations they could be making.

CTAs should also create a sense of urgency.  “Check Availability” is one of the least performing CTAs you could possibly use. Most customers know that if they see the vehicle on the site, you most likely have one in stock. And if you don’t, they definitely know you can get them one.

If you’re adding a third or more CTAs, ask yourself: “Is this absolutely necessary to have right here on this page?” If it’s not, dump it. Your customers will appreciate it.

Price is a larger determining factor for a customer’s inclination to submit a lead. “Get Our Best Price” is still one of the best lead-submission generating lines around.

If you have digital retailing tools, focus more on utility. “Get Financed” or “Start Checkout” do not really cut it in our experience. You’re more likely to pique someone’s interest with “Build Your Deal” (as they aren’t feeling the pressure to finish right here, right now).

Images

Another important piece is ensuring your vehicles have images of the vehicle. The vehicle could do well to swap out the stock photo for an actual image. Seeing the vehicle is one of the largest deciding factors to whether or not someone submits a lead!

Pricing

It may seem obvious, but you could have a website designed by Amazon themselves and if your truck is $3,000 more expensive on your site than a competitor’s down the road, customer are not likely to give you their information. They’re calling the other listing.

Make sure your pricing is competitive. We recommend tweaking the following:

  1. Showing discounts before or after the Best Price lead is submitted.
  2. Deciding whether to use Best Price at all.
  3. When compliant, using a red strikethrough to indicate a greater price beyond the Best Price.

If you change your pricing, be sure to change your CTA verbiage as well to match. You do not want to claim there is a better price beyond a CTA only to show nothing!

Forms

This one also seems relatively simple, but it’s missed all the time. Make your customers do the least amount of work possible. That means lowering how many forms you require them to submit or filling out the least amount of information on them. This applies to your service forms, credit applications, SRP/VDP Best price forms; all of them. If you don’t like filling them out yourself, your customers won’t like them either.

Requiring a name, address, phone number, and email address is often too much. If you’re struggling to generate incoming leads, only require name, address, and your preference between email or phone number. Another possibility is to let your customers choose which of the two they prefer. Requiring both can be overkill.

Think Outside the SRP

Reviews also play a huge part into a customer’s likelihood that they submit a lead.

There are two factors that goes into this: average rating and number of reviews. If you have a 5.0 rating on Google, that’s great! If there are only two reviews, that’s less great.

Think of everyone’s favorite ecommerce site: Amazon.

Amazon Shopping Review Features

 

Obviously, you shouldn’t copy everything from Amazon. We created a three-part feature on that mindset, after-all.  But there are some features that are worth mentioning.

Amazon lets you sort through their inventory from highest to lowest reviews.

Anecdotally, most people who use Amazon swear by shopping with this filter. It’s human nature to not to be first to take the plunge on a brand-new

Ask yourself: why would a customer take a chance on your dealership if you’re sporting a 3.0 average and only 20 reviews? Quality and quantity count.

Customer service very much translates into the digital world. Keep this in mind and get happy customers to leave you glowing reviews online.

Videos – More Important Than Ever

A massive change from 2020 to 2021 is the necessity to have video content on your website. Due to COVID-19, shoppers became accustomed to shopping online at a rate that has never been seen before.

No longer will your text descriptions and feature lists suffice!

Now, you’ll need to showcase your inventory with video walkarounds and feature overviews so that customers can have the showroom experience right from the comfort of their couch.

Our recommendations for improving your video walkarounds can be found in this article made by fusionZONE Automotive. The key points you should take from it are:

  1.  Schedule your videos in advance
  2. Take your time and be thorough / be detailed
  3. Have a way for your customers to follow-up for more information

Don’t feel pressured to make a video for every vehicle on your lot tomorrow. Do them in chunks, week by week, and make it a habit Before you know it, it’ll be a natural part of your process and you’ll reap the benefits of a higher time on site and more conversions!

Test, Test, and Test Some More

One of the best pieces of advices is to take it slow and change only a few small things at a time. A/B split-testing can help save you a lot of headaches in the future! Believe us, it’s the worst feeling changing a website’s layout only to find it performs worse than before and getting a third of the leads. For example, you could change one vehicle’s layout, then see if it’s working over the course of a month, then apply it to the rest.

We hope you find these tips and tricks useful! For more exclusive strategies on how to boost your online presence, subscribe to our newsletter! We’ll send the latest issues directly to you so you can stay ahead of the curve.