The weather has prompted a slow start to spring in several parts of the country. Weekly snowstorms in the West, chilly temperatures in many Midwestern states, and unseasonal thunderstorms in the East have delayed many folks getting out on the road and enjoying their powersports vehicles. While we can’t do anything about Mother Nature, we can make sure our customers are bringing in their bikes for service now, ensuring they’re ready to go when the weather decides to cooperate.
There is some good news for customers in the market for a new bike or an upgrade. Supply chain issues have largely eased, and many financial indicators are trending positive. While the Federal Reserve increased interest rates a quarter of a point in March, the consumer price index declined to 5 percent in March 2023 on an annual basis, down from 6 percent in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation report, and the U.S. unemployment rate remained below pre-pandemic levels at 3.5 percent. Not everything is rosy but there is optimism in several economic brackets.
One thing that has remained consistent is the consumer’s penchant for shopping – and buying – a bike online. Thanks to the pandemic, the rate of digital sales continues to grow according to industry organization Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). The quality of your digital platform makes all the difference. From providing information to answering potential buyer questions, your dealership’s digital platform makes a valuable connection. But, how do you know whether your dealership has the right digital content?
Put on your customer’s shoes and see! Evaluate your website from the mind of a consumer. Go through the process of researching a motorcycle or ATV, estimating a monthly payment, submitting a finance application, and reaching out to your sales team through the website. Email the dealership or try out the chat feature yourself and then check your CRM to see what actually happens with those inquiries. Taking an unbiased view of the customer’s experience can give you actionable insights that turn into revenue.
Website Messages and Tools
Not sure where to begin? Here is a simple checklist of digital content and tools that successful websites utilize:
- Prominent WHY BUY HERE messaging throughout the site – does the site actually communicate why the visitor should buy from YOU and not the competition?
- Content describing your online sales process – how long it takes, what is required, etc.
- Financing education
- Expanded F&I product information – product descriptions, pricing, digital brochures, etc.
- Service FAQs
- Recall information – sure, a customer can get this from the OEM, but why not be a source of helpful information to nurture that customer relationship?
- Easy-to-find contact information with staff emails and phone numbers – can a customer reach you easily?
- Career Opportunities
- Information about community involvement – according to the Harris Poll, a global consulting and market research firm, Millennials are more likely than previous generations to take a company’s social responsibility into account when making purchase decisions.
In addition to providing online answers to almost any customer question, it’s also important to ensure your website functions correctly across computers, tablets, and smartphones. Navigate your website on your phone.
- Is it easy to use?
- Can you view the images and read the content?
- Do all the forms and tools still work properly?
Take a regular look at the analytics for your website to see where your traffic is coming from. You may be shocked to learn that most people on your site are not using a desktop computer to access it.
- What is your most visited page or section of the site?
- Where are users dropping off, and how can you re-market to them?
When you think of your website as an online storefront, suddenly knowing the customer’s journey through the website gives you a lot of actionable insights with which to work.
Website Video Use
Video is the name of the game in 2023. Powersports and automotive dealers alike are encouraged to use videos wherever they feasibly can, on their websites, on social media, and even in their communication with customers.
The main message dealers are seeing is that if you are committed to online sales, you must also have a strong video presence. But what does that mean? At EFG, we recommend dealers take a methodical approach to video, starting with an assessment. Pull up your website once again and put a check mark next to every video category you see below:
- Introduction with WHY BUY/SERVICE HERE message (from owner, general manager, sales manager, service manager) – these videos can be placed on the home page, service landing page, and even at the top of the inventory search pages.
- Inventory walkaround videos – grab that smartphone to shoot a quick video of a new bike/ATV arriving on your lot. Videos from real staff members that a customer will recognize if they reach the dealership lot will separate your dealership from the competition!
- Trade-in FAQs – These videos can live on a resource page of your site. You can also link to that page from your inventory pages to provide an easier customer experience by answering their questions as (or where) they come up in their online shopping experience.
- Service FAQs – We recommend placing these on the service landing page to help give customers even more reasons to return to your dealership for ongoing service.
- Online purchase FAQs – If you have implemented an online purchase process, you might consider placing these next to or below any banner promoting your online purchase program so that customers can view the video before starting the process.
- Customer testimonials – We recommend placing these all over the website as part of your WHY BUY HERE messaging.
Once these basic videos are complete, they have exponential opportunities for use – on social media, YouTube, and even in customer emails through your CRM. After you have a good grasp on video basics, you can turn your attention to more advanced videos, like virtual test drives. Additionally, as your team becomes more comfortable using videos in their communications, you can work with them to create stock communication videos for use through your CRM, like:
- Appointment Confirmation/Missed Appointment video from the salesperson
- Thank You/Congratulations video from the salesperson
- Happy Birthday/Anniversary from the salesperson
While jumping into videos may seem daunting, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to ease your way, including OEM video assets, online video creation tools, and those handy smartphones. Not every video needs to be good enough to air on TV. Some just need to be good enough for a simple email or text message.
Lastly, a website stock full of the latest tools, but with no monitoring for online inquiries will fail every time next to a simple website with ongoing monitoring. We’ve all been in that frustrating situation where we have one specific question that we can’t find the answer, and we just need a real person to provide the answer. When evaluating your website and filling out all those online forms, pay attention to your team’s response to those inquiries.
- How quickly is the inquiry handed off to a salesperson?
- How long does it take for the salesperson to reach out to the customer?
- Does the salesperson have access to the inquiry to research the customer’s question prior to reaching out?
- Does the salesperson set time expectations with the customer on when they will get back with them with answers to their questions?
- Does the salesperson ask for the customer’s preferred method of communication and then actually honor that person’s stated preference (email, text, or phone)?
- How many emails/text messages/salespeople does it take for a customer’s question to be answered?
- Is your sales team prepared to answer questions about financing or protection products?
- Are questions fully answered with an open-ended closing that prompts further engagement?
- If your website uses an artificial intelligence auto response tool, are the algorithms current? (e., does the right message get to the right person, at the right time?)
Stepping outside your dealership walls and into your customer’s shoes gives you a valuable perspective that can improve your engagement model and strengthen your sales team’s effectiveness.
And speaking of stepping outside your usual environment, I’m taking my own advice. In the coming months, I will be stepping into a new role at EFG Companies. I will assume responsibilities for EFG’s training and inside sales organization, sharing my 20+ years of working in the field to expand our capabilities.
I could not be more excited about this opportunity. EFG’s training is recognized as one of the most effective programs in the industry, with F&I graduates producing an average of $206,400 in additional F&I revenue per year. However, excellence always demands improvement. Our industry is changing and how we engage with our clients and customers requires us to grow, evolve and improve. While I might not be on the road as much, I will still be involved with you and your teams to build stronger dealerships and more effective teams.
Remember, at EFG Companies, our proven team of experts pairs clients with critical evaluations of everything from website performance to compliance, along with the training, tools and resources needed to get the most out of your team. We’re more than an F&I provider, we’re your business partner with years of expertise in the powersports industry.