We have had some much-needed good news for dealership productivity over the past few weeks. Parts of the United States are opening to nearly full capacity. The number of unemployed workers declined a bit as businesses brought back furloughed staff or hired new team members. And, vehicle sales picked up in May, averaging 12.2 million vehicles on an annualized basis, according to Autodata. While no one is popping any celebratory champagne corks, the positive headlines are a balm to our bruised economy.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a real threat. Hot spots continue to flare, sending record numbers of people to the hospital. A large percentage of Americans are still hesitant to visit businesses in person, instead relying on the online platforms that have sustained their lives since mid-March. As a retail auto dealer, how do you maximize your opportunities to sell vehicles?
Digital options pay off in productivity
Since we have all been forced to rely on our online tools during the shutdown, more sales are taking place on digital platforms. A recent Cox Automotive survey found that over half of consumers plan to complete at least some portion of their purchase online. Dealers are encouraging customers to use online shopping tools, including online chat, virtual test drives, trade-in valuation, and financing calculators. However, simply providing online tools is not enough to differentiate your dealership from the competition for today’s consumers.
Having a smooth, efficient, and well-documented process is the key to success. Auto News recently reported on research conducted by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and digital retailing provider Roadster. Polling 236 franchised and independent dealerships between February and April, the survey revealed that F&I profits rose 58 percent on new vehicles in April for respondents with digital retailing processes. Dealerships that did not offer digital retailing saw a smaller increase in F&I, up about 35 percent.
In addition to having an easy-to-navigate website, your sales and F&I teams need to exhibit the same smooth, efficient process they have in-store when completing the sales and finance process online. Your team needs to be proficient at reviewing available options, presenting the menu, and guiding customers to a decision both onsite and online. The same NADA/Roadster research showed that even with reduced staffs, dealerships reported selling an average of 18 vehicles per salesperson in April, compared with a 13 vehicle-per-person average before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Training pays off
Whether online web classes, one-on-one sessions, or chat functions with an expert, training your staff to excel in the new normal is simply smart business. It is imperative that we recognize that the way your customers shop for a vehicle has changed significantly since mid-March, when the economy and the country shut down. Failing to embrace the reality of a changed economy could have a major impact on your dealership’s profitability and productivity.
Between refreshing known skills to learning new ways of engaging your customer in this changing selling environment, your team needs to have the right tools to enhance your dealership’s profitability. In some situations, training will reinforce the policies and procedures your team applies to every sale. However, the transition to an increasingly digital and remote-selling process, as well as and an increase in potential fraud risks, means that the need for training on new processes is a must.
EFG’s online training modules will provide your F&I teams with the skills they need to navigate this new selling environment, and how to get past that “no”. Give your team every opportunity to close more deals at higher profits, while elevating customer satisfaction, with our in-depth, live online training on Overcoming Objections. For a limited time, you can register now to take advantage of our Introductory Offer for just $299.
The key to success as we find our new normal is to maximize every opportunity to sell a vehicle and enhance your productivity. Meet the customer where they are, communicate often, streamline processes, and keep those digital platforms engaging. With more than 40 years of experience helping dealers increase sales and F&I penetration, and drive lasting revenue gains, EFG brings the keys to success to you. Learn more about EFG and our live online F&I training here.