Apple founder and famous tech giant, Steve Jobs, famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Throughout his career, he derided customer data and declined to perform market research. Many have suggested that, “Jobs was right but only in the very narrow category to which he aspired: where his products…either redefined or created product categories. That’s not the domain in which most businesses play.” It’s definitely not the domain in which car dealerships play.
Automotive retail is a mature, highly competitive industry where careful attention to customer insights can mean the difference between success and failure. But how can dealerships find and use those insights? Not surprisingly, it starts with their own data.
Connect Online to In-Store
It should come as no surprise that the process of understanding what a customer wants actually begins before that customer visits your dealership. Today, most car buyers are beginning their purchase processes online—researching specific models, selecting features, and comparing prices. It’s now possible—and imperative—to greet a customer on the lot and to pick up exactly where they left off on your digital retailing-enabled dealership website. Examining a customer’s own research and preparation is the very best way to understand exactly what they want.
Learn From Past Behavior
Most dealerships are now keeping a central record for each customer, with the help of sophisticated DMS and CRM systems. Those records include a history of past purchases and past trips to the service lane. When a customer visits your lot, don’t treat them as if they’ve never been into your showroom before. Reference, acknowledge, and discuss their current and past vehicles to narrow in on what they may be trying to accomplish. Make an effort to surmise what the customer might be interested in based on their last three or four transactions.
See Things On the Spot
Of course, it does you very little good to make those connections during post-deal analysis. You need to see and understand customer behaviors, trends, and tendencies during an actual deal. That’s why it’s so important to use a DMS that provides real-time data with remote- and mobile-access. By incorporating up-to-the-minute insights into each transaction, you can make decisions on the spot, whether you’re behind a desk or out on the lot.
Dealerships can’t afford to ignore customer behaviors and dealership data. To succeed in this mature and competitive industry, they must leverage technology to access and analyze customer information, then put it into action. With the right systems in place, dealerships can leverage online activities, learn from past behaviors, and access customer information on the spot. Leveraging that data may not help dealers to redefine the entire world of technology, but it might just help them run a more profitable dealership.
To learn more about how a modern DMS can help you, download our guide 5 Ways a Modular DMS Platform Opens New Possibilities for Profit