5 Common Mistakes Every Dealer Should Avoid

Written by Joe Glaser

November 30, 2019

5 Common Mistakes Every Dealer Should Avoid

One of the Fastest Growing Industries

The automotive industry is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing industries still today. It is continually increasing in revenue and reach. Some would argue that it is because of the ever-growing technologies and how people are communicating. Others would say that the reason may be because of the consumer’s growing need for immediate gratification.

There is no doubt that technologies are becoming more advanced. There is also no doubt that with the upsurge of social media, the desire for wanting things now and getting them now is a driving force. Regardless of the reason for this growing industry, the reality is that it is happening, and it is extremely important that dealers and dealerships are making certain that they fuel the buying process by not making some simple mistakes.

Overcome Mistakes; Get to the Goal

Common mistakes can often mean the difference in getting your customer to the end goal or losing him or her somewhere during this process. This process has many steps that include, but are not limited to:

  • Deciding to Buy
  • Locating a Dealer
  • Picking a Vehicle
  • Deciding on a Lender
  • Purchasing After Sales Options

As you attempt to do your job and do it well, you realize that you are the key factor in guiding the buyer through this process. Ultimately the goal is to buy a car but first, you have to gain the interest of the customer and make sure that they remain connected to the process. Take a look at these major mistakes and see what you need to do in order to avoid or correct them.

Mistake #1: Not Getting in Front of Customers at Every Step in the Buying Journey

So you have established that leading a consumer through the buying journey is a daunting task. This would be easy if everyone would just submit to what you have told them. By all accounts, you are qualified. You are the professional. You are the appropriate channel! It is never that easy and this is where you must take the time to make sure that you stay with the consumer during every step.

It is not uncommon to run into many customers who will want to be left alone and feel their way through. This is the age of technology and you must remember that most people buy cars and never leave the comforts of their own home. You can pinpoint tens of thousands of people who find and buy vehicles without even leaving their beds.

Whether you provide fixed ops sales or locate vehicle alternatives, the customer will appreciate the effort when strategically done. Yes, many customers will present as if you aren’t needed because they can access everything with a flip of the wrist and a touch of the fingertip now, but your expertise will come in handy.

Delete Mistake #1, Try This

Engage with the customer and do it often. They may get stuck in the oddest portion of the process and give up, but if you are remaining diligent and consistent, you will recognize it far before the customer does and you can fix the problem. Consumers can be over zealous but for the most part they just want a worry-free and smooth transition from thinking about buying and the “ever after” that comes with the up-keep of their new vehicle.

Mistake #2: Using the Wrong Words When on the Phone

Despite popular belief, any communication is not good communication. The next common mistake will shut down your entire process in seconds flat. Much of the process of communicating with buyers now starts with the telephone. This is considerably different than when most sales where gained and made during a face-to-face conversation. As a dealer, you can lead with different words and read facial expressions and other cues when in the physical presence of your buyer, but on the phone, effective and efficient communication becomes a more difficult endeavor.

Consider the possibility of you not being able to get past a “Hello” on a call. A situation such as this happens daily to many buyers. It has to be accepted that you will run into many negative calls in your career even when you are the one receiving the call, but the amount should decrease the more that you get your footing. Even seasoned dealers will run across a few, but if you are finding that you are not getting far enough into the conversation, it is possible that you are not using the right words on your call.

Delete Mistake #2, Try This

Try asking other colleagues or peers for advice. See if there is any audio available for you to listen and hear what successful approaches others are using. There is no tried and true method to this part. It will be consistent trial and error coupled with research on communication. Be sure to document what you said when you were unsuccessful on a call, as well as document when you find ways that work better than others.

Remember that you are dealing with human reactions and for the most part when talking on the phone, customers would like for you to care about what they want. It may seem to be a great idea to lead with who you are and the great deals that you have to offer, but the reality is that you may not have enough time to even get that far during cold calling or follow-ups. Try new ways to gain more time with your customer by showing that you are there to serve them and help them fulfill their wants and needs. Be sure to show them that this course is all about them.

Mistake #3: Having a Sub-Par Online Experience

If only it were still as simple as needing no way to connect with the customer without physically seeing them, but that is not the case. Your customer will more than likely connect on some level through your website and that is why the common mistake of offering a sub-par online experience can be detrimental. The online platform has grown and has offered more and more opportunities for you to increase earnings and gain consumers that you never even knew were interested. For that reason, your online stage must be pulled together and tied with a nice pretty little bow.

Today, when your website suffers, you will notice that your sales will suffer. This is a common problem that can be misunderstood by our seasoned dealers who have not yet moved completely into the age of technology. It it totally understandable that this is met with some reservations, but to get optimum success in your business, this has to happen.

Delete Mistake #3, Try This

Overall, your website should be user-friendly and visually appealing. This will allow the buyer to visit and visit again because they like what they see and they don’t get perplexed upon entry. Your website should allow for technical assistance and direct links to contact you for further assistance. Consider including reviews from others with whom you have done business, and add an account set up where they can get information on deals, sales, and a newsletter. This will also provide with a way to track your visitors and gain leads towards finding buyers who may not have moved past the looking phase at the moment.

A key aspect of your website should be the special attention paid to auto dealer marketing. In a nutshell, your website should be information-rich and error-free. These two small details will elevate even the simplest website. Do not miss out. Use this opportunity to do complete auto dealer marketing because you will have access to tracking and a great platform to tailor it to your target audience.

Mistake #4: Not Converting Service Customers into Buyers and Vice-Versa

This common mistake can be made without realizing you are letting opportunities pass through your hands. As a seller in the industry, your eyes should always be open looking for new customers or the retention of old ones. You can assume that just because you sold a person a car in the past that they will return to buy another one from you, or you can assume that because you sold a person a car that they will participate in fixed ops sales, but it just isn’t the case. There are no guarantees and it is almost certain that without your input and effort, it will never happen.

Delete Mistake #4, Try This

You can alleviate some of these problems by giving follow up calls to customers who have aging vehicles. You can send out emails or mail inserts that will gain the attention of the possible repeat customer as they begin to think about getting another vehicle soon. Also, many dealers pass the major opportunity for signing up or encouraging options for oil changes and maintenance from your business. This is like throwing money in the trash. Yes, you may have to offer deals, or you may even have to offer some warranties or voids, but without even addressing it, you can almost be sure that your buyer will have their vehicle maintained elsewhere, thus cutting your earnings tremendously.

Mistake #5: Not Getting Your F&I Manager Engaged in the Sale

Duly noted, you are the closer most times if you are the dealer, but unlike many imagine, the sale takes on a different form according to the person you are selling to. For some people a dealer highlighting many specifications and characteristics of the vehicle would be enough, but there are unlimited times where the Finance and Insurance manager (F&I manager) may be needed. They can offer a different point of view for a different customer. The F&I manager doesn’t just do paperwork, but some time they can be the brain that breaks those numbers down to the customer in a way that they can better understand.

Delete Mistake #5, Try This

When customers understand the financials, they may be more inclined to purchase because they feel they have all of the information that they need, so try getting your F&I manager involved. They will definitely approach the customer from a different perspective because they will consume themselves with additional add-on sales for the physical vehicle or GAP coverage for the “just in case.” Regardless of whether your F&I has to step in or not, be sure to keep your manager abreast at what is going on. They may be able to offer advice that may land a sale that you have not previously thought about.

Do Not Make These Mistakes

You can suppose it is a given to conclude by saying, “Don’t make these mistakes,” but not only is that what you can take away from this article, we hope that you will use this information to further your methods and practices. You can be quite sure that you aren’t making the big errors and blunders, but it is those small overlooked instances that if you had just taken a minute and focused on doing better or different, you would have yielded a different outcome.

These outcomes are often successful and will raise revenues. It will also increase knowledge of your craft. The auto industry can be a difficult place to exist because of constant changes in the wants and needs of your target, but with just a few tweaks, you can continue to thrive and remain relevant for many years to come.

<a href="https://www.automotivemarketing.com/author/joeglaser/" target="_self">Joe Glaser</a>

Joe Glaser

Joe Glaser is a marketing consultant and automotive industry expert. He writes for Automotive Marketing Magazine and is a regular contributor to Forbes and The Washington Post.

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