Eliminating Pain Points in Today’s Automotive Dealerships (I) Physical Inventory
“In 2018, U.S. light-vehicle dealers reported an operating loss for the first time since the National Automobile Dealers Association began tracking the data in 20091.”
A distressing reality, but as dealerships struggle to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer preferences, not a surprising one. As prospective new car buyers, customers often decry the lengthy sales process they are subjected to at their local dealership, but the chaos derived from outdated processes and management struggles that takes place behind the scenes can be just as infuriating the dealership as well.
What many car shoppers do not realize is that the car they fell in love with on a dealerships website may not even be on the main dealer lot. Compared to other brick and mortar establishments, automotive dealerships may appear to have a large physical footprint. However, the product they’re selling is an automobile, not a smartphone, and as such takes up significantly more room in inventory. Many stores have additional lots to stock additional inventory, some located miles away. Should the vehicle reside at one of these, this will add time to the overall process. The salesmen must first locate the vehicle, the speed and accuracy of which depends on the sophistication of the dealers’ inventory tracking system, then send a porter to retrieve it. Seems simple enough, but vehicles that have been sitting on an auxiliary lot for an extended period may be dirty, requiring a quick cleaning to ensure a good first impression, or even worse have a dead battery. Supplemental lots are also prime targets for vehicle theft.
Imagine searching through a lot bigger than most sports fields comprised of hundreds of similar vehicle models in search of one optioned to the liking of a specific customer. Luckily, modern dealership solutions like Vehicle Passport have relegated these struggles to the dustbin by delivering real-time insight into exact vehicle location and condition with integrated RFID tracking. By speeding up the test drive and sales process, both the customer and dealership personnel benefit.
Another pain point faced by dealerships is the lack of customer communication following a sale. As an evolution of traditional incentives, many stores have deployed attractive service contracts to not only give customers piece of mind, but keep them coming back to the dealership. Occasionally, a newer model will catch a customer’s eye as they wait for their service to be complete. However, lack of interaction on behalf of the dealership leads to customers either forgetting or delaying the use of service contracts; Contracts that they paid good money for. Point being, the sales process shouldn’t end when the initial contract is signed. Service and accessories make up a significant portion of dealer revenue, so any chance to increase foot traffic should be a top priority for any dealership. Furthermore, by leveraging mobile notifications through modern engagement solutions dealerships can transcend the dreaded customer calls inquiring as to when their vehicle will be ready while simultaneously providing constant and transparent communication. It’s a win-win.
The Monroney sticker has been a familiar sight to car shoppers since the 1970’s, but what many may find surprising is that these ubiquitous pieces of paper are another dealer incurred cost that to this day has yet to make the leap to digital. Window stickers, contracts, technical specifications, certificates of origin, inspection reports, buyer’s guides, and service tags aren’t free. Digitizing these collaterals will alleviate financial burden and allow stores to react in real-time to changing deals and incentives to directly match those displayed on their website. Eliminating the logistics of dealing with stacks paper is a no-brainer.
There is hope. Deployed in high-volume dealerships from California to India, SHIFTMobility’s Vehicle Passport enables sellers to understand lot inventory at-a-glance, tailor their vehicle mix for local preferences, and adapt in real-time to campaign-driven price changes and incentives. Our solution draws a straight line from customers to the cars, services, and parts they need at any given mile by delivering omni-channel engagement from initial purchase to financing, insurance, service visits, condition, history, and more. As online car shopping continues to transform into the gateway to new car purchases, it’s never been more imperative for dealerships to own the customer experience from the web to the store, purchase, and beyond. Contact us today to learn how Vehicle Passport can transform your automotive dealership from inventory headache to a streamlined machine.