Beating the Inventory Shortage By Selling Experience Over Brand

Beating the Inventory Shortage By Selling Experience Over Brand

The current vehicle inventory shortage has caused many dealerships to stock vehicles of other brands just so they have vehicles on their lots. This creates concern for many managers that if they’re not selling their brand, how do they sell? The answer to this is fairly simple, you sell by giving an amazing buying experience and making it as easy and stress-free as possible. Brand loyalty measurements are fleeting, for example, JD Power did a study that found between June 2020 and May 2021 brand loyalty improved across the board. At the time, buyers were more hesitant to visit showrooms and therefore relied on their relationship with their previous dealership. 

However, another study found that brand loyalty dropped 1.7 percentage points from the same period of time between June 2020 and June 2021. The pandemic bump in loyalty dropped when the global chip shortage reduced the amount of available new inventory. This caused a brand's existing owners to be more likely to shop for their next vehicle with less concern about remaining with their current vehicle brand because there were so few vehicles available. This didn’t necessarily mean the customers would shop at a new dealership, but it did mean they were more likely to buy an off-brand vehicle from that same dealership they shopped at before. 

We know that very often, customers end up buying a different vehicle than they intended. We also know that most customers visit 1.5 dealerships before they actually purchase a vehicle. If you’re able to give customers a car-buying journey that’s easy, transparent and seamless, you’re more likely to close more sales, regardless of the vehicle brand they buy. The entire automotive industry is seeing a trend where brand loyalty is coming second to experience loyalty. Knowing this, it’s your opportunity to take advantage of this and start giving your customers a car-buying experience that can’t be beaten. Here are five things to consider to create an experience that leads to customer loyalty. 

1. Make It Easy for Customers to Engage With Your Website

Dealerships across Canada have learned that in order to be competitive, they need to have a strong digital presence. You need to ask yourself what you’re offering your customers digitally to make the car-buying process easier. Whether you have virtual financing tools, free soft hit credit scores like AVA Credit or remote delivery options, you need to promote these. Just having these tools on your website isn’t enough, you need to ensure people can find them and that they’re easy to use. The more a customer engages with the tools on your website, the more likely they’ll go to your dealership to shop for a vehicle. 

2. Use the Information You Receive Online in Your Showroom

If you want to give your customers an amazing car-buying experience you need to ensure you don’t waste their time. One of the common things dealers do to waste their customer's time is to ask them questions the customer has already answered online. If you have a customer coming to your showroom, find the information they’ve already provided online and start from there. There’s no point in having digital retailing tools on your website if you’re not going to use the information they provide. 

3. Use Online Information to Continue the Process In-Person

This point goes with the point above if you want to create a seamless car buying process you need to be able to start the process in person at a point where the person left online. A process that connects digital and physical interactions means that through your CRM you can search your customers' names and pick up exactly where they left off. Imagine the convenience of asking for a customer's name, plugging it into your CRM and then immediately taking them for a test drive. That’s an experience any customer would appreciate. 

4. Be an Informed Salesperson

Being a knowledgeable salesperson makes a massive difference in customer experience. For example, let’s say a customer has their eyes on a particular SUV that isn’t in stock at your dealership. They’ve done their research on the vehicle and found features that the vehicle possesses that make the vehicle perfect for them. Now you’re in a situation where you need to provide a solution for your lack of stock of that vehicle. If you’re able to discuss the features they loved about that vehicle and find another vehicle that you do have in stock that has similar features, you may be able to save that deal. 

5. Know Your Inventory Day In and Day Out

If you can walk into your dealership every day and know exactly what vehicles are on your lot you’re at a huge advantage. Your customers are making a huge investment in buying a car and they want to work with a true sales professional who knows what they’re working with. There’s nothing worse than telling your customer that the truck on your lot would be a great option only to find out that it sold yesterday. On top of that, you need to know the details of each car on your lot. What are the distinguishing features between this sedan and that sedan? Does it have a history of three previous owners or was it owned by a single person? The more knowledge you have about the vehicles on your lot, the more you’ll be able to help your customers. 

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