It isn’t news to any dealership across the country right now — inventory is low. Between microchip shortages and supply chain disruptions, most predictions indicate that it could be well into 2022 or even 2023 before the supply meets back up to the demand for both new and used vehicles.
While there is nothing that you or anyone at your dealership can do about the shortage of inventory, there are ways that you can drive future sales through current strategies. One important area of focus should be on your service department. This department can help build a loyal customer base that will be ready to open up their wallets when inventory levels once again reach normal levels.
Check out the following effective tactics your service department can deploy today to drive the sales of tomorrow.
Offer Specials Aimed at Repairing Existing Vehicles
With vehicle shortages, many customers who might have been interested in upgrading to a new car are rethinking their purchases. Lots of these customers are waiting until inventory levels return to normal before settling on a new set of wheels.
This means that in the interim, there is a huge need for repairs to existing vehicles. With fewer new vehicles available, more and more people are relying on older cars to get them down the road.
This can be the perfect chance for your service department to snag new customers and bring business through your doors.
Spend time over the next month developing a few key specials aimed at repairing your customers’ existing vehicles. Gather data from your local area about what vehicles your target audience owns. Then, gather data on the most common repair needs for these vehicles.
From here, craft your specials. Offer a discount for first-time visitors or a combo coupon that provides a lower cost for repairs when bundled with other services.
Then, promote your specials to a targeted audience segment. The more accurate your data is, the better your campaign will be. The goal is to funnel specific specials to the exact customer base that is already searching for that service.
Finally, make sure your service team is ready to deliver outstanding customer service. This is particularly true when you have new customers walking through your doors. There is only one chance for a first impression.
Use the Time to Nurture Warm Leads
In reality, for most people, the car buying process is a long one. Most leads you receive will begin as warm leads, and they will take time to convert into actual sales.
During inventory lows, your service department can help nurture these warm leads. Create a segment of your customers that may be casually interested in purchasing a car down the road, and funnel them into a marketing campaign that draws them into your service center.
From here, your service team members can work their magic. While helping these customers change their oil or rotate their tires, train your service team to also bring up conversations about future purchases. This is a great opportunity for your service department to introduce a customer to a sales team member.
While you might not have the inventory right now to close the sale, you can use this period to build a relationship with customers, leading to long-term loyalty and trust. And, because your sales team members have fewer vehicles on the showroom floor to focus on moving, they can use more of their time to nurture these leads.
Think about this time as the prime chance to pour extra attention onto your customers. Challenge your sales team members to work together with their service center counterparts to build new connections.
Stay Top-of-Mind with a Loyalty Program
Does your service department have a loyalty program? If not, now is the time to launch one.
A loyalty program can help bring customers back to your service department for every oil change, transmission flush, and repair needed. Not only that, but a loyalty program can also keep your dealership top-of-mind during a time when you might want to cut down on the number of sales ads you are running.
In lieu of a sales event, consider hosting a fun event for customers who are part of your loyalty program, showcasing the services offered at your dealership. Continue to follow up with these customers through service department promotions and recall notifications.
This is an effective way to drive more revenue through your doors while waiting out inventory lows. Not only that, but it also helps ensure that these customers don’t forget you between now and their next vehicle purchase.
Create Short Videos That Answer Frequently Searched Queries
Your customer base uses the internet to search for more than just where to buy that next car. They use Google to search for information about vehicle repairs, stats around vehicle safety, and simple day-to-day vehicle hacks.
One of the best ways to reach these customers is through organic search. When they type in “when should I change the oil on my Toyota Prius?”, if your dealership has the answer and shows up near the top of the search, you have a great chance to build your brand’s image as an industry authority.
One of the best ways to rank for these important search queries is by creating short videos. Use your service department team to tackle common vehicle questions.
Beyond just curating a list of questions from Google’s frequent keyword queries, talk to your service team members about what questions customers often ask them.
Turn each question into a quick, informative video, and publish them on the web. Host your videos on YouTube, social media channels, and your own blog. You can even add a quick article to go along with each video, increasing your ability to rank in search.
Make sure that each video also contains a clear call to action and a reminder that your service team is there to help. You can even retarget a customer who watched one of your videos later with a related service center offer.
For example, if a segment of customers watched your video on the frequency of oil changes, you could target those customers later with a coupon for a percentage off of their next oil change.
Gather Data on Customers for Future Marketing Campaigns
If you plan to decrease your marketing spend on promoting vehicle sales over the next few months, consider shifting this spend to another area — customer research.
Now is a great time to gather as much data as possible on customers for future marketing campaigns, and your service department is the perfect team to help.
Every time customers visit your service center for maintenance or repairs, make sure your team updates their information and even adds new data to your system.
For example, when customers show up for an oil change, have your service team member confirm their email address, phone number, physical address, and preferred means of contact. At the same time, train your team to gather more data through natural conversation.
Are the customers interested in buying a new car in a few years? Do they like their current make and model? Have they ever considered leasing a car? Would they be interested in a trade-in down the road?
The more detailed information your service team members can gather, the better. They can plug this into your CRM for future use. Then, when inventory levels return to normal, you’ll be ready to launch highly targeted campaigns.
Look for Ways to Fill Gaps Left by the Competition
During inventory lows, a lot of dealerships go silent. Rather than staying in touch with their customers, they put a halt on their marketing spend, creating a void.
This is where you have the chance to fill in the gap. Even though you might be facing the same inventory lows as your competitors, what you do during this time will dictate a lot about your future success.
Rather than putting a stop to all your marketing tactics, look for ways you can continue to interact with your customer base and the customers of your competitors.
For example, if you are struggling to meet your existing customer base’s demands, you might not want to push inventory as hard as you normally would. However, you could run a special on oil changes, targeting not only your customers but also the customers your competitors are ignoring.
Key Takeaways During the Inventory Shortage
If you have a service department, you have a remarkable opportunity to continue to grow your customer base, even when vehicle inventory is low. As you build a strategy around using your service department to drive future sales, keep the following key takeaways in mind:
- Now is not the time to halt all marketing efforts. While you might want to readjust your marketing focus, nothing will hurt you more down the road than fading out of your customers’ minds.
- Train your service department to work in conjunction with your sales team. While the members of your sales team might be facing a limited number of interactions with customers, your service team still has the chance to build valuable relationships and connections. Make sure that you take the time to invest in these team members, teaching them how to create a lasting bond with future customers.
- Get creative! The dealerships poised to come out on the other side of this inventory shortage ahead are the ones that aren’t afraid to think outside of the box. From getting more involved in video creation to designing unique customer loyalty programs, gather all your team members together and brainstorm ways you can build loyalty now that will pay off down the road.
Work with J&L Marketing to Ramp Up Your Game
Inventory levels might be low, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to take your foot off the gas. Instead, think strategically and use this time to get ahead of your competition. At J&L Marketing, we believe in turning every challenge into an opportunity for success. We will work with you to build out a strategy that leverages the power of your service department to set you ahead of your competitors.
We can help you with:
- Building a paid ad campaign that brings new customers through your doors
- Designing a quality landing page that converts potential service department customers into scheduled appointments
- Crafting an email marketing strategy that keeps customers engaged during inventory lows
- Outlining a robust content marketing strategy that will ensure you stay top-of-mind for future sales
These are just a few of the many ways we can assist you in driving future sales through the actions of today. To learn more and to get a personalized quote, talk to our team. We will be happy to discuss the options available for your dealership and how we can help you dominate your local market.