Standing out from the competition is among every car dealership’s top concerns.
While excellent marketing campaigns and inventive deals will certainly help you in the long run, some dealership attributes stand the test of time when it comes to beating out the competition in sales and overall perception.
On episode two of my “move. crush. count.” podcast, guest Rob Ruth of Bob Ruth Ford in Dillsburg, PA, spoke of these timeless brand differentiators.
Listen to the podcast episode and put these tips into action at your dealership:
Naturally, price is a major deciding factor when it comes to buying a car. If your dealership isn’t competitively priced, potential buyers won’t even consider your facility.
However, many car dealerships are competitive with their prices. Your pricing and promotional strategies won’t provide a lasting advantage over the local competition. Instead, they’ll position your dealership as the “low-cost option” in town.
While being the “low-cost option” is not a terrible differentiator, it is not a long-term solution. Eventually, someone will beat your price, and you’ll continue to drive costs down until they hurt your bottom line.
Once you’ve developed a solid pricing strategy, it’s time to focus on helping customers find the car that best suits their needs.
Offer a Genuine Customer Experience
How many times have you seen or heard an ad stating that XYZ Dealership has the best sales representatives in the state? “We treat you like family” or “Our customers are our best friends” are common marketing catchphrases on ads or email newsletters.
But how many dealerships follow through with these statements? You walk through the doors only to be greeted with a half-hearted smile and a cold “Hello.”
A major differentiator between your dealership and the competition is the way you treat your customers. From the moment they search online to the second they sign on the dotted line, every aspect of your brand experience must be tailored to impress the customer.
Connect the Online and In-Store Experience
One way to prove your customer service statements is by seamlessly connecting a customer’s online activities with their in-store experience. A customer should be able to determine your brand’s personality and level of customer service from their first encounter with your dealership online.
By focusing on the value, trust, and transparency delivered during the “pre-dealership” experience, you demonstrate to consumers that you care about their concerns and needs.
Use our helpful resource on connecting your dealership’s online and in-store experiences to develop a perfect buyer’s journey for your customers.
Trust Is Key
When thinking about buying a car, we as consumers tend to conjure up thoughts of a stressful buying experience filled with anxiety, endless questions, and mountains of paperwork. As a result of past experiences, customers often enter the buying process with this ordeal in mind.
Your dealership needs to build a sturdy foundation of trust with the consumer before even thinking about closing the sale. Fortunately, trust can be created in several ways online and in-store, by:
- Providing a wealth of information on your dealership website
- Offering a chat line or customer service number for buyers to connect with
- Training your sales team to interact courteously and helpfully during the sales process
- Being transparent with the car buying process online and in-store
- Providing customers a myriad of additional convenient services such as a service center, complimentary amenities, and a financing department inside your dealership
To customers, how you do business with people is far more important than what you are selling.
Focus on providing an all-encompassing customer experience that is helpful, genuine, and goes above and beyond to assist others. Do this, and the sales — and local differentiation — will follow.
Build a Positive Company Culture
If you don’t invest in yourself and your team, how can you expect customers to do the same?
Your team, from the sales representatives to the service center, needs to be on the same page about your dealership’s company culture. This internal structure is the centerpiece of every transaction, promotion, and campaign executed by your company.
Without an understanding of your company’s values and goals, your team members won’t deliver a unified customer experience to those who walk through your door.
As a business owner, it is up to you to not only create a positive company culture but also to live it every day. You can’t expect your team to believe in your mission if you don’t emulate it yourself.
It is important to keep in mind that company culture doesn’t include trendy benefits like free coffee and bean bag chairs. A company’s culture is defined by shared goals, team values, and behaviors that work to uplift everyone. Everything else is merely a bonus.
If your dealership doesn’t have a defined company culture, take time to create one with your team. It may be easier to say, “I’m the business owner, and this is how it’s going to be,” but think about how that will resonate with your team.
Instead, sit down with everyone in your company and develop a list of goals and values to begin building a trusting, transparent company culture. As you do this, you’ll notice your team demonstrating these shared values, and they’ll be more evident in the sales process. In turn, you’ll have more satisfied customers, and you’ll differentiate your dealership from the competition in your area at the same time.
MCC 006: Sandy Cerami
How to Create a Culture that Differentiates You
From the Rest
Listen to Your Team
Your team is on the ground floor of your dealership every day. They see the inner workings, the problem areas, and where things could be improved for a better competitive advantage over other local dealerships.
Listen to their ideas and put them in action. Not only will these ideas work to position your dealership better in the market, but your employees will also own these ideas and work harder to grow your dealership with you.
Consider Amazon’s Model
When questioned about differentiation amongst car dealerships, Rob Ruth also mentioned Amazon’s speedy purchase model.
Although buyers are not purchasing vehicles off of Amazon (yet), we can still learn a great deal from their business model. Products on Amazon provide customers with convenience, an abundance of product information, and efficiency.
As a car dealership, you can still accomplish the attributes of this model in your sales cycle, starting with your website and online communications. By providing customers with convenient access to vehicle information and other valuable resources, you’ll stand above competitors who still use outdated sales tactics based on in-person interactions.
Also, by engaging and sharing this information, customers will come to your dealership already educated on the vehicle they intend to test drive. This, in turn, shortens your sales cycle, leaving customers and sales representatives with an efficient, pleasant car buying process.
This type of differentiation is only possible if you provide customers with information and trust upfront, similar to how Amazon sells its products.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Depending on your local market, some car dealerships may not be taking advantage of new technological advancements. Technology provides a massive opportunity for your business to soar beyond the competition. You can use it to capture the attention of buyers inside and outside of your geographic area.
VIN Specific Advertising, for example, is an excellent way to target ready-to-buy customers and drive them to your dealership to seal the deal.
Combined with your social media advertising, paid search, and email marketing efforts, VIN Specific Advertising provides customers with information on the exact vehicle they are researching. As a result, customers will see your brand as one that provides knowledge to customers generously long before the test drive or first contact. This then develops into a trusting customer relationship as the sales cycle progresses.
Adopt a Strategy of Preeminence
Also mentioned in Rob Ruth’s guest appearance on the podcast is Jay Abraham’s “Strategy of Preeminence.” This concept states that to surpass all others, you have to deliver the best experience in your niche.
For car dealerships looking to outshine the local competition, this requires making the best of what you’ve got or identifying areas and opportunities where your company can soar. If you consider your dealership to be in the commodity business, you’ll fail at becoming the business that customers compare all other experiences to.
Think about Google in the search engine market or Disney in the theme park and entertainment industry. Both are unsurpassed in their respective fields, although many have tried. These companies over-deliver value to their customers, provide them with lasting experiences and continue to elevate their position in the minds of consumers.
Review Jay Abraham’s “Strategy of Preeminence” and see where your car dealership can excel in the local market.
Maintain Quality at All Times
As you adopt many of these concepts and principles, your car dealership will begin to grow. During this period of growth, you must continue to maintain the same level of customer service, product quality, and overall brand experience that got you to this point.
Faltering in the overall dealership experience — from your customer interactions to the quality of service repairs — will result in damage to the brand differentiation you worked so hard to achieve.
Throughout your future endeavors, make it a point to check in with your employees continuously and see how your processes, departments, and overall goals are going. Providing exceptional service should be your number one priority at all times, whether you’re just starting or you’re growing into the leading car dealership in your state.
Let J&L Marketing Help You Differentiate Your Brand
Setting your brand apart from the competition doesn’t happen overnight. It takes significant time and dedicated effort from your entire team to make it happen.
The marketing pros at J&L Marketing are ready to differentiate your car dealership from the local, regional, and national competition. Contact our team today, and let’s discuss how we can help elevate your brand to the next level.