There has been a lot of conversations in my 20 Groups this year about the future of our showroom as it relates to the selling process, and what it will look like in the next five years. Many staff members find themselves sitting behind a computer, watching the front door, and thinking “where are the customers?” It’s no secret that over the last five years, the consumer has changed how they make buying decisions. I believe we need to rethink how we hire and train our sales force, as well as making changes ourselves.
While I may not have the answers on what these changes should look like in every dealership, I do know that how I make buying decisions today has changed, as have my expectations. I, like many customers in the marketplace, put a great importance on how my time is managed. I also have access to a massive amount of information via the internet, which helps me feel informed about any potential purchase I make.
As a consumer, I do my research. I examine the business ratings on Google (or many other review websites) before I decide to buy from them. What percentage of your customers go through a similar process, or do they still just show up at your door to kick tires? My guess is the majority are not showing up to your store without doing their homework beforehand.
Our Culture Needs to Change
Over the next five years, if we want our sales to grow, our culture needs to change. We need to focus on how we make the buying experience faster, simpler, and easier for customers to buy and take delivery of their new purchase. Those that master this process are going to be the ones dominating the market.
There are numerous surveys out there that highlight how consumers make buying decisions, and what their biggest challenges are. In the world of retail automotive, there are a few trends that typically stand out:
The time it takes to buy a car is to long
Negotiating the price is painful and I don’t trust my salesperson
Financing the deal is confusing and takes too long
Simply put, if you can deliver to the customer the vehicle they want at a fair price, in a timely fashion, and with little or no haggling, you have a chance at growing your business in the future. This is how customers want to shop, and they are going to choose dealers who allow them to do so!
The traditional salesperson still has a future in our business, however, at some point they will retire after a long and successful career. The real question we need to ask ourselves is how do you hire and train the next generation? What might need to change in the sales process? There are a lot of business models popping up in our Industry that will offer the customer no negotiations, no commissioned salespeople, and a single point of contact.
So here is what I would ask you. Do you really want to pay an outside company to give you leads or buy your vehicle, so they can deliver it to THEIR customer? Or should it be YOU?
If you would like to discuss how you can begin to change the culture of your showroom, our automotive experts are ready to help you with our NCM 20 Groups, scheduling in-dealership consulting, or with leadership and management training with NCMi.