Effective Website Design - Part 2Welcome back! You have reached the third and final installment in our series on Effective Dealership Website Design. So far, we have covered intuitive and responsive design in parts one and two, which you can review here on the fusionZONE Blog.

Today, we’re finishing up our principles of great website design series with one final topic: simplicity.

Why a Simple Design for Your Car Dealership Website is Best

In website design, it is always better to strive for simplicity over complexity. While a flashy website with thousands of features, links and pop-ups may seem more impressive to some, it often results in a clunky or downright frustrating user experience.

With a car dealership website, you are designing the site for ease of use of your customers. While you certainly want your site to be attractive and professional, going overboard with features, plug-ins and navigation menus can negatively affect the user experience.

Users who visit your website are likely not there to simply admire the design elements and advanced features of your site: they are there to achieve a goal. Help them reach their goal of buying a new or used car, appraising their trade or scheduling service with a simple and uncluttered layout.Schedule Service

 

In this screenshot, we see the schedule appointment section of the dealership’s service department page. There is a prominent ‘schedule appointment’ button plus simple steps listed to complete this goal.

 

Simple Website Design

Most users don’t read, they scan. If your site is cluttered, it can be overwhelming, and the user will go elsewhere. Make scanning your homepage, navigation menu and all other pages easier with a clear and simple layout. This lets users control how they interact with your site, which could lead to decreased bounce rates and increased engagement and conversions.

A simple yet attractive layout with ample white space, clean graphics and effective writing can provide a better user experience — and help improve conversion rates!

In this next example, the dealer displays some of its most popular new models on the homepage with links to its inventory. This simple, clean layout makes it easy for the many users visiting the site to shop for a new CR-V or Civic.

While trends in website design seem to change regularly, one constant going forward is that simplicity tops complexity every time.

We hope that you have enjoyed our series on Effective Dealership Website Design. If you have any questions about your current dealership website or what our team can do for you, reach out to us today.

Effective Web Design - Part 2

Welcome back to our series on Effective Dealership Website Design! If you’d like to revisit Part 1 before we begin with Part 2 below, read it here.

Today, we are moving on to responsive design and looking at why it is crucial for modern websites, including your car dealership site.

Why is Responsive Design So Important?

Before we delve into why this aspect of website design is so critical, let’s review precisely what responsive design is. In responsive web design, all pages and their content are flexible and adjust for optimized viewing across various screen resolutions and devices.

Think about viewing your dealership’s website on a large computer monitor or TV screen in landscape mode, then visiting the site on your smartphone in portrait mode. You wouldn’t expect the site layout to be exactly the same, would you?

Today, with so many screen resolutions across desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices, it is critical to create a pleasant viewing experience for every possible website visit. That’s where responsive design comes in!

With responsive design, your website and each user’s experience can be tailored for the device they are using to interact with the site.

In these screenshots, we see an example of a dealer’s new inventory page displayed on a laptop in landscape orientation, followed by the same area of the page in portrait orientation on a smartphone.

The laptop’s larger screen and higher resolution allow for ample white space, and the entirety of the vehicle snapshot is displayed in one view. When the page is viewed on the smartphone’s smaller screen in portrait landscape, the responsive website optimizes its available real estate by condensing the details displayed and featuring prominent buttons for ‘Buy Online’ and ‘Build Payment.’

Benefits of a Responsive Website

We’ve covered the basics of why responsive website design is vital to your dealership’s online presence, but let’s go a bit deeper.

Today, most consumers utilize multiple internet-enabled devices each day. From their smartphone and work computer to their tablet or personal laptop, we jump from device to device and expect a seamless experience.

When your customers can easily access your website across all of their digital devices, they are more likely to stay engaged with your site and return in the future. With more visits and more engagement, you will likely see higher conversion rates.

We all know that car buyers can spend days, weeks or months shopping and researching their options before making that final purchase decision. Why not make it easy for them to revisit your inventory and pull up vehicle specs and photos on any device?

Here are some of the many potential benefits of utilizing responsive design on your website:

  • Flexible
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Improved user experience
  • Increased engagement
  • Decreased bounce rates
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Professional appearance across all platforms
  • Ease of site management
  • Cost-effective
  • Gains in search engine optimization and rankings

Now that we’ve covered intuitive and responsive design in parts 1 and 2 of our series on Effective Website Design, we’ll move to our final installment. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the series, where we’ll go over the benefits of simplicity in website design!

Effective Site DesignAs the events of 2020 have shown, reaching and engaging your customers online is more important than ever.

With effective web design, car dealerships can create a better user experience and achieve more time on-site and improved conversion rates. In this installment, we’ll look at elements of effective web design and what our team is doing to ensure that your dealership’s online presence is dialed in for performance.

In Part 1 of this 3-part series on effective website design, we’ll start by covering the intuitive layout of a site.

Make It Easy With Intuitive Design

Utilizing intuitive design means that when a customer interacts with your website, they will know exactly what to do, where to go and how to accomplish a task. Whether they are visiting your site to shop for a new SUV, see your new car specials, apply for financing or schedule a service appointment, intuitive design makes it all easy.

Web users (and car shoppers) can be impatient, especially when they have other options. Take the guesswork out of interacting with your website by providing clear and simple navigation. After all, frustration can lead to bouncing from your site altogether, which doesn’t bode well for conversions.

Reserving your most valuable online real estate — the top of the homepage — for the most commonly visited pages of your site makes it easy for customers to get where they’re going.

Intuitive Automotive Site Design

In this screenshot, the store uses the top of the homepage to promote its new and pre-owned inventory and service scheduler, plus a link to sell your car. These products and services are the bread and butter of their business, so it makes sense to place them front and center.

Beyond new or used inventory pages, every dealer has products and services they know are highly valuable to consumers and the business alike. Placing prominent links to your used car specials, truck inventory, service scheduler or other high-traffic pages “above the fold” on the homepage lets users skip the scrolling and navigating altogether and reach their goal.

In this next example, the dealer adds lease specials and service specials above the fold. These specials are not only valuable to the store and customers, but they also create urgency.

Specials on the Homepage for an Automotive Website

Don’t squander your customers’ patience with a complex or clunky site design. If you can manage to focus each user’s attention and provide quick access to what they’re looking for, you’ll be on your way to increased engagement and conversion.

That’s all for Part 1 of our Effective Dealership Website Design series. Look out for Part 2, where our team will cover responsive websites.

 

Laura Morse of Jim Norton Toyota

This month’s Word on the Street segment features Laura Morse, the eCommerce Manager at Jim Norton Toyota in Tulsa, OK. As Laura will tell you, her multifaceted career prepared her to tackle automotive sales as an industry veteran. State Farm Auto insurance just may have stolen their slogan “we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two” from Laura.

While most dealerships are scratching their head on how to mitigate sales losses in the era of COVID-19, Jim Norton Toyota is meeting and possibly exceeding their sales targets. As it turns out, their processes and commitment to outstanding customer service prepared them for just this sort of event.

Below are some of the key moments of our conversation together on how to equip yourself to make the most out of the situation.

On Creating an Empathetic Message

At Jim Norton Toyota, my General Manager saw very quickly we couldn’t have the same sales message as we were using a few weeks before. We took a look at ourselves from the customer’s point of view to see if we liked our own message under these new and very serious conditions. 

The message we wanted to create was not “Big sale going on today!” but “How can we help you today?” Thankfully we launched our Express purchase program last year as well as Service Concierge. So, for us it was not new to offer and promote safety-conscious home visits for sales test drives or picking up a customer’s vehicle to be serviced and returned.  

It may sound funny, but back when I was on the sales floor, I always treated my customers the way I’d want someone to treat my mom, dad or brother.  To me this feels the same – what can our dealership do to help our loyal customers during this unusual time?

On Social Media and Being Creative

We know people are spending more time on the internet than ever before due to COVID-19.  Our social sites are seeing a lot more engagement.  But if everything we post is a blatant sales message, folks are going to stop reading pretty fast.  So, we enjoy offering a mix of interesting content peppered with sales info. 

We recognize our dealership staff and congratulate high achievers, give fun employee birthday and anniversary shout-outs every day. We worked with our service department to create ‘Tech Tip Tuesdays’, which offers helpful service advice.  Then we do Trade-Talk-Friday, answering common questions people have about trading-in their vehicle.

On Sanitation and Informing Customers

Our company is taking extra precautions to ensure our customers’ safety while visiting the dealership.  Not only has our dealership followed every CDC guideline, but we have added plexiglass dividers throughout our customer-facing departments.  We want customers to feel safe while they’re here.

After someone has been in lock-down for a month, they tend to look for any reason to go out!  Having reliable transportation is so important and why the Oklahoma Governor deemed automotive an essential business.

On Industry Veterans Adapting to New Technology

Everyone on our team has been very resilient and adaptable. Thanks to the guidance and vigilance of our General Manager, we were a process driven dealership beforehand. So a lot of this came second nature.

With a sales team of over 50 sales associates, we quickly started a telecommuter process and changed our team schedules. Tracking everyone’s activity and reporting was essential before but was now is under the microscope. I believe it is a large contributor to why we’re doing well.

 

That wraps up this month’s segment of Word on the Street! If you’d like to be featured as a person of interest, please contact WOTS@fzautomotive.com.

Stay safe!

 

 

 

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 leads?

Our clients often scramble for an answer. Is your competition trying something new? Are your model research pages the issue? Maybe it’s the homepage! Let’s redesign the whole kit and caboodle!

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 with you our secret sauce for generating high-quality leads. These are easily and you can often do without bringing in your support teams.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization (or CRO) is the modification of your website to generate the greatest amount of opportunity possible.

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.).

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

Landing page views and form engagement are incredibly important to build an audience profile! They are also important to modify your existing lead generation tactics.

But if you are reading this guide, you are most likely not there yet! Start with the basics, get primed and ready for testing later.

So, as a rule of thumb, if you can make money off of it, it should be counted as a conversion.

You can create sales of someone’s email or phone number, but not VDP views!

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 for 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 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 than 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 your 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 minimal amount.

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 the 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.

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.

 

Gray Scott Automotive DealerCOVID-19 has certainly shaken up the automotive industry. Many of our dealers are showing solidarity and providing support to those scratching their heads at what to make of the current situation.

One such dealer is Gray Scott, the Marketing Director for a high-volume dealership near Chicago, IL. He recently created an insightful post on LinkedIn that detailed what steps dealers are taking to maintain their web presence. Here is a relevant portion of that post:

 

“What we/you should be doing is maintaining a presence online with digital but making sure your message and creative is more top-funnel and value-oriented. If you have good content, car info, walkarounds, video test drives, this is what you need to be pushing. Over the next 2 weeks, people will be poking around. They will demand advertising inventory from the DSPs, because before the pandemic, they were in-market. People are not buying cars and are not trying to take unnecessary risks. Now is the time to make sure your SEO game is on fire. YouTube and social as well. It’s a time to evaluate your website and its user experience and consider making changes. In 2-3 weeks and when stay-in-place orders are lifted, THIS will be the time to double down.”

 

When Scott references user experience, he is referring to banners, homepage calls-to-actions, and top-level menu items being correctly optimized to reach top-of-funnel customers. If you are offering a new service, such as video walk arounds or home deliver, assess where customers can find this content and ensure it’s visible and above the fold. Don’t forget to check your mobile view, where 40-60% of your customers view your site!

Scott’s emphasis on SEO, YouTube, and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are essential to reaching top-of-funnel customers. They are the best platforms suited to delivering informational content. For paid search, Google has recently announced a relief fund for Google Ads, so be sure to keep an eye on that space as well to take advantage of free advertising credits.

We hope you are staying safe!

Check your inbox regularly for more updates from fusionZONE on how to tackle obstacles created by COVID-19.

 

Don’t Let The Phones Keep Ringing

A strong online presence usually means a higher call volume. This means you need to work the phones better than ever.  Questions you should be asking:

  • When a customer calls the dealership, where does that call go?  Make sure your associates in-store are prepared to respond accordingly.
  • If your BDC is currently working from home, are calls routed to their personal phones?
  • What happens if a customer has service needs? Can you accommodate them at their home, or can a technician offer some tips?
  • Is your team set to text prospects?

The digital workforce depends on phones. Make sure your sales department has one or more active sales routing options to capture people’s interest and turn them into sales.
 
For those customers shopping from home, invite them to speak with a member of the sales team to discuss buying and delivery options on new and pre-owned inventory.
 
Get Some FaceTime

Consider taking to video. Do all you can to help simulate the car-buying experience from a virtual setting. 
Don’t shy away from being creative. Here are some ideas to think about:

  • Use your service scheduling tool to make FaceTime appointments to discuss inventory and delivery options.
  • Record more vehicle walk-throughs and feature demos on video. (Video test drives are not recommended.)
  • Consider going live on a social media platform to open a Q&A on financing options, test drive deliveries, at-home vehicle service, or other ways your dealership is adapting to current concerns.

Be aware, the purpose of these calls may vary greatly right now, based on circumstance. These calls could range from the “discovery/information-gathering” phase, where prospects are early in the buying process, to the “buy now” phase, where customers are looking for convenience and immediacy for vehicle purchase and delivery.
 
Buyers still value face-to-face interaction. If you can’t get in front of them all in person, be creative and use technology.

 

Get the Message Out

How is your dealership responding to the COVID-19 outbreak?  The first step is to communication. Consumers want reassurance you’re taking the coronavirus threat seriously and prioritizing their safety.  Let your customers know and start with the basics.  

Ways to Communicate

How do you get the message out? Whether it’s texting, FaceTime, or social media, people are as connected and plugged in with technology as ever before. You should embrace this.

Think website first, with a landing page and/or pop-over informing customers of dealership updates specific to COVID-19. Use email to directly broadcast your message to a wider group.

Customers also frequent social media. Spread the word and exist where your audience is. Consider using a hashtag to index coronavirus updates:

  • #DealershipNameCOVID19Updates
  • #AlertNotAnxious
  • #ShopAtHome
  • #ShopDistancing

Be sure to also update your Google My Business Page and your website’s hours of operation. If they’re different from the usual operating hours, make that known. If there’s no change, acknowledge its business as usual, while also pointing out precautionary measures taken.

If you are changing operations or services, provide clear steps for customers to take so they can remain in contact with you. You may even be surprised to see how customers respond to humanized communication.

Ideally, you should spread the word in as many ways as you can. At a minimum:

  • Confirm if/how operating hours are affected by COVID-19.
  • Share updates with customers via your website, social media, and email.

You don’t have to be a virologist to communicate with your customers about how you are facing challenges head-first. Keep your customers informed with upbeat, clear, and concise updates. 

Safety First

What safety measures are you taking in response to COVID-19? 

  • Is hand sanitizer available where hand-to-hand contact may occur?
  • Has hand-washing become a focal point for employees?
  • How frequently is the dealership deep cleaned everyday?

All additional measures count.

Think Outside the Box

Make your dealership stand out from the rest. How? Here are some ideas on how to accommodate your customers while public transportation is a minimum:

  • Home delivery on vehicle purchases.
  • At-home car detailing and deep cleaning.
  • Complete the F&I process at home or online.

 

Consider the circumstances and try to relieve the burden for your customers, as best as you can.

“Disruption” is one of those Silicon Valley buzzwords that I’ve begun to grow tired of. It’s a catch-all word that is used anytime an industry or product is experiencing changes or pop up competition. Perhaps more accurately, we should see terms such as “evolving,” or “maturing.” More simply stated, what many industries or products are experiencing is just new competition.

In automotive, there is a history of disruptors that fundamentally change or alter a maturing market. Remember the minivan craze of the 90s? It was followed by the crossover phase and disrupted the wagon segment to such a degree they almost went extinct, at least in North America. 

Now going into 2020, we are seeing the disruption in both segments and distribution. Companies like Tesla are disrupting with fully electric cars that are distributed through a direct sales model. Companies like Vroom and Carvana are offering full digital retailing online, from start to finish with a delivery of the car to your driveway. Yet, these companies have not experienced an “amazon-like” transformation and are still very niche players. Why is that?

Another industry that is experiencing this same kind of disruption is the grocery industry. While stores changed continuously and evolved to keep up with customer trends and tastes over the years, one principal of the business transaction remained constant for decades: People had to come to them to get fresh food and produce. 

With companies like Peapod and Amazon Fresh, combined with more meal prep-orientated services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, that is all changing. Direct to consumers, some with discounted or even free shipping, these services are endangering the rock-solid model of people going to their favorite supermarket for food staples. Is the traditional industry doomed? No, at least not for the ones embracing the competition. Let me explain.

When faced with the prospect of consumers able to shop online for their most common groceries, the incumbent stalwarts of the grocery world (Think Kroger, Safeway, Publix, etc.) have a choice to make when fighting to keep their market share against the online disruptors. My local grocer of choice, Meijer, decided to partner with Shipt to make home delivery from online shopping available.

App-based shopping, with nearly all of the same products and staples you’re familiar with at the physical location available for same-day shipping. And for some, within the hour. Instead of fighting against the new model, grocery stores decided to participate. Meijer is certainly not alone, many major chain grocers are now adopting a “we shop for you, and ship for you” model. They also have a great hybrid solution where you purchase your items online, and a store shopper selects all your products for you. Then all you need to do is visit a curbside pickup at the physical store and collect your items, saving you from even having to enter the store. They took the opportunity of the new online model not just as a threat alone, but as a challenge to innovate their business model for evolving consumer shopping behavior.

This got me thinking. Why is it that when I talk to dealers and salespeople in the industry, they deride the online digital retailers like Carvana and Vroom? Why do they insist it’s a passing fad or dismiss their importance altogether? For years, I have heard dealers tell me, “Oh sure, salesperson Johnny could do an at-home test drive, we’ll gladly go to a customer’s house to have them look at a car.”  

However, the reality is that it never happens. Or, if it does, it is supremely rare. Taking any piece of the consumer transaction away from the dealership is frowned upon, no matter what. This usually comes at the direction of management.

Perhaps it’s the power dynamic that makes dealers uncomfortable. When a customer is in your dealership, they are on your turf, your zone. That can be intimidating for some customers, no matter how comfortable or relaxed going your sales staff is. Perhaps dealers like dictating the way the sales process will go on their home court. Now it’s just salesperson Johnny and me in my driveway, there is no more of the walled office of intimidation. There is no more, “ok, let me run that by the manager while I hide from you, and we talk about you behind your back.” Also, there has to be a ton of accountability on Johnny that he won’t just give the car away for a song, and his sales manager is not there to hover over his shoulder to approve every pencil and sales move that he makes. 

Its accountability that many dealers don’t have with their staff or actively don’t want. There is no finance office pressure. The upselling of finance products has to be pre-selected or presented, it’s no longer in the boiler room of F&I pros, it’s a driveway chat with checkboxes that need to be presented. The motivation to sell is in a different environment. I’ve bought several cars over the past four years from established franchised dealers and independent used car lots, luxury cars and economy cars. The experience was the same. Not once was it ever presented as a possibility that they would or could come to me.

Why does the automotive world insist that customers who desire to complete their purchase online, or from the comfort and familiarity of their home, must be forced to visit the dealership? 

Perhaps this is why the majority of people still hold the opinion that buying a car is high on their list of stress-inducing and disliked activities. There will always be those who remain traditional, both those who prefer buying products in-store and those who like buying automobiles direct from a dealer. 

However, it’s the growing segment of the market that prefers a digital experience which the automotive industry can learn from. How about meeting consumer behavior changes the way grocery stores did? By not rejecting the disruptor model but embracing it.

Dealers have the inventory; they CAN do this. The question is, do they want to? Many people I have talked to are still uncomfortable with completing their purchase without first seeing what they are buying in person. Especially something as expensive and vital as their car. I would love to see dealers begin to promote and market home delivery and online shopping. Let’s make that process easier. If we do not, the market will speak and slowly keep chipping away at established dealerships selling in the traditional model, in favor of those who can evolve with the way consumers want to transact business, increasingly online. 

Do you agree with me? How many of you out there have tried one of these online grocery shopping services? Was it a good experience? Has anyone ever had a dealer come to their house to sell them a car? Let me know in the comments below.

Customer Experience How you make them feel

Technology companies often focus on their products and leave service levels far behind. They rely on shiny objects and whiz-bang features to sell products. Companies that lead with technology often forget that the result of a customer interaction isn’t the technology – it’s how the customer feels using the technology. At fusionZONE, we strive to be Deliberately Different by asking, “How did this make them feel?”. We ask this question at every client interaction, and it underpins every product we design and release. Our focus is on the client’s experience in everything we do.

 

Perfection is impossible, but caring is not. Did you make your client feel understood? Did you make your client feel appreciated? Did you make your client feel confident? Did you make your client feel empowered? If your client feels cared for, they are likely to be a brand ambassador, help you and your team improve, and be a long-term customer. We will always have room to improve the process, training, and tools. Mistakes are inevitable. Ensuring your client feels heard, understood, and senses urgency when an issue arises is critical for a client-centered organization.

 

One of the legends of the retail automotive industry, Joe Girard, understood this. He made the Guinness Book of World Records for his sales ability. He recognized that how you make the customer feel was the critical piece of the sales process – not just during the sale, but after the sale was made. He stayed in touch with customers and took care of service issues when they arose after the sale. As a result of this focus, he banked repeat business year after year.  Technology companies have a lot to learn from this approach. Customers expect that you will get decent technology. Honestly, most websites and digital marketing technologies are pretty much the same. What is unexpected is the commitment to service after the sale. That is the real product. 

 

Innovation at fusionZONE starts with keeping the client in mind. How can we make their experience and the end-user experience better? How can we help our client’s business be more profitable? We are midway through developing a new platform that will transform the dealer website service experience. With targets of four-hour ticket turn arounds, easy content management, lightning-fast speeds, dedicated support teams, and highly qualified leads, we are not focused on the next shiny object but the top prize. Technology is merely a tool to achieve a client objective, and it certainly helps make their business more successful. But, ultimately, client service – how you made them FEEL using the technology – is the real product.