COVID-19 changed every aspect of our society, including the way dealerships operate and how consumers purchase vehicles. As states re-open and businesses return to normal operations, some key trends will continue even after the coronavirus is under control. Here’s what you can expect to see post-pandemic and how to position your dealership for success in the long run.
According to Haig Partners, 30% of new car sales last year in the US were conducted online, compared to 2% pre-pandemic. Millennial shoppers, in particular, want to buy or lease through their smart phones and just come to the dealership to close the deal. To meet this demand, you can create a better car buying experience by creating a virtual sales manager role and invest in tools that streamline the online car buying process. This ensures customers efficiently go through the decision-making process and feel confident that your dealership is the best one to buy their next car from.
The lockdowns forced some dealerships to temporarily close their doors at a time when consumers moved away from ride sharing to car ownership. To minimize disruption, many dealers allowed their staff to work from home and continue helping customers through their buying journey. Be more efficient in a remote environment by using your DMS to:
More vehicle purchases mean more cars that require maintenance. Many dealers continue to operate their service drives during COVID by offering mobile services, such as picking up the car from the customer’s home and bringing it back after an oil change and tire rotation. What was once considered a concierge luxury service is becoming more popular. To do this effectively, you’ll need DMS that doesn’t require VPN offsite, so your team can easily deliver exceptional service at your customer’s convenience.
Consumers are more internet savvy than ever before, and COVID made digital advertising even more essential as people avoided high-touch surfaces such as print publications. Identify websites and social channels where your customers hang out in and try to be present there. Leverage advanced social advertising capabilities to target specific audiences and get your dealership in front of people who may not know your brand or the special offers you’re running.
The days of handing cash and credit card to the cashier before picking up a vehicle are fading quickly. As consumers strive to avoid crowds, being able to pay for their car in advance – quickly and securely – has been vital during the pandemic and beyond. Make sure your DMS provides an easy way for customers to pay online and track it within the repair order for your records.
Automotive dealerships are often targeted by cybercriminals due to the high volume of sensitive data, and this has increased since the pandemic began. With the rise in remote work and more car buyers on the market, this threat will continue. According to Blum Shapiro, dealerships that invest in cloud technology are well positioned due to higher security protocols. A cloud-native DMS, for example, can help protect your data through immediate security patches and updates. It can also backup your records in the cloud, so you don’t lose critical information in the event of a hack.
Many of these dealership changes are long overdue, and the COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated the digital retail process. Despite the emergence of online used car marketplaces, such as Vroom and Carvana, dealers proved our industry’s ability to adapt and succeed under unprecedented circumstances. The goal now is to stay ahead of competitors for the long haul by implementing an agile workforce, robust processes and modern cloud solutions that enable you to maximize productivity, customer satisfaction and profitability.