The auto market is slowing down. Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know this. And hey, I get it if you have been hiding under that rock. This news isn’t what any of us like to hear. But unfortunately hiding won’t make the slowdown go away. Dealerships around the country are going to have to shift how they do business; our industry is going to have to start being more proactive.
Today’s most successful dealerships are no longer waiting for opportunities to come to them. These dealerships are taking a proactive approach across the business and seeing great results, but there’s one area in particular that can positively and quickly impact performance for most dealerships: proactive tracking.
Today’s car shoppers spend an average of 60 percent – nearly nine hours – of their overall car buying experience researching and shopping online, according to Cox Automotive’s 2017 Car Buyer Journey study. If even a couple of those hours are spent on your dealership’s website (and they probably are), customers are providing you with a treasure trove of data before they ever reach out to you directly.
Proactively tracking customer website behavior allows you dive into that treasure trove to find gold nuggets that may lead to sales. With the right tools, your data can help you identify specific signals that someone is a good candidate for a sale – before they ever tell you they’re ready to buy. Understanding these signals, such as clicking on financing and trade-in options, means you no longer have to wait for customers to make the first move. You can provide timely, relevant offers based on your customers’ actions, not just their words.
Website behavior tracking tools, offered through many CRMs, can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of the tool’s offerings if you already have one in place. A good tool can notify you with CRM alerts when specific customers are browsing your site, meaning you can shoot customers relevant offers while they are online.
In addition to giving you a good opportunity to reach out to customers before they reach out to you, website behavior tracking tools also allow you to proactively prepare for the conversations you’ll have with those customers. Armed with the knowledge of what a customer has been browsing, you can spend less appointment time digging for basic info and more time showing customers options for what you know they want.
Even without a website behavior tracking tool, however, your data can still provide opportunities for proactive sales. For example, one of the most indicative and easy-to-track signals is equity. It’s no surprise that customers with equity are much more likely to be receptive to an offer, and setting up a report of all customers with positive equity (or more specifically, customers with positive equity coming through your service lane that week, for example) is pretty simple in most CRMs.
For most of us, a new way of thinking is just as important as a set of new reports. A proactive approach means refusing to limit yourself to what you know or what you’ve always done. It means being open to new ways of tracking customers and willing to act on those new ideas. As an industry, our world is shifting, and we have shift with it. We have to stop believing that opportunities will come to us; we have to proactively go out and find them.
A version of this post originally appeared in Dealer Marketing Magazine.
Dealers who use both Dealer.com websites and VinSolutions' Connect CRM can automatically track website behavior with VinLens.