Planning for now and the future Admin In the Media (0) Well, the New Year is here and if you didn’t kick some proactive activity into gear late last year in preparation for 2019, then there’s no time like the present to take action.What lies ahead in 2019 can be influenced by actions you take at your dealership.While it’s never too late to start, the foundations of what could’ve been laid over the past few years also impacts your results, now and in the future.The days of sitting back waiting for customers to walk on in aren’t over yet – you just need to ensure they’re coming in.The difference is what you do to ensure you get them making that decision to come into your business as part of their car-buying journey. Nine times out of 10 they are there to buy, and the majority of people are planning to purchase from the first dealership they walk in to.Now if that thought has provoked you to think about actions you took – or didn’t – last year, you can’t dwell on the past or change what has been.However, you can ensure you’re proactive in the future and take steps today to improve conversions to sales not only during 2019, but start laying sound foundations for 2020, 2021 and beyond.Let’s look at the three customer segments and some simple tips on what you can do to be the best-placed dealership for people to visit to buy cars.NEW CUSTOMERS - Make sure online vehicle listings provide plenty of information, and you convey key features of the vehicle and your dealership.Ensure your website is a central hub that everything points to – where you showcase more stock, more about your dealership, your services and your team.Make sure you’re where all the eyeballs are going for potential buyers in the market when looking for a new car that fits the demographic your stock and dealership caters for.Use a survey solution such as BuyerScore to leverage and showcase past customer experiences, so prospective customers build confidence in your dealership. Being rated and having reviews could be the difference needed to get them coming in. After all, 80 per cent of buyers have purchasing decisions influenced by customer reviews.Phone and online enquiry must be handled promptly, and answer everything customers ask. Old-school tactics of holding back information to try to get them on the yard generally won’t work except maybe for a rare or limited vehicle.And respect your customers before they’ve even purchased.REFERRED CLIENTS - Past customers need to have had good experiences to get them speaking favourably about your dealership.You then need to ensure you keep in touch with them during ownership cycles so you stay present in their minds, and when they hear of someone looking to buy, they recommend your dealership.If you don’t stay present through even the simplest customer relationship management (CRM) touchpoints, you run the risk of not being top of mind after the first month or so of ownership.Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral. You may want to do this through an incentive or gift for doing so. Be sure to thank your customers if they refer someone.REPEAT CUSTOMERS - Again, they need to have received great service during their last purchase and throughout their ownership, so they want to engage with your dealership next time.Keep in contact with them via soft touchpoints as part of your CRM practice.Provide them with easy options to upgrade when the time is right. Existing customers are also great sources of vehicle stock.Invest in them – they’re your best return on investment, hands down.BUYER’S PERSPECTIVE - Refining your focus and being proactive across all buyer types will positively impact on your dealership’s performance.One way to see how you do in this area is to remove yourself from the business and look at it from your customer’s perspective. All too often, your daily environment may have aspects you won’t realise are substandard and they can influence customer experience negatively.You can ask family and friends to get involved and take a look at your business, mystery shop, enquire online, call on the phone or test drive a car – all in an aid to provide you with constructive feedback.Utilise customer survey and review tools, such as BuyerScore, which provides you with significant insight into not only purchasing customers’ experiences, but also has a feature that helps you to understand why a customer didn’t buy from you.That being said, above all, please do something with the information you receive. Make a plan to implement changes based on feedback. You will be surprised how easy it could be to pick up an extra few sales a month by making basic changes staring you in the face.Take 2019 by the horns and make it the year your dealership surpasses previous sales records and lays effective foundations for future success.The team at Motorcentral is excited about 2019 and driving more innovative ways that enable the success of dealerships in New Zealand.