Reviewing your merchant services statements for your automotive business plays a vital role in cost management, competitive edge maintenance, security and compliance assurance, and enhancing the overall customer experience. Periodic assessments empower you to make knowledgeable decisions that can significantly benefit your business.
Important Factors in Each Statement:
Explore Peri by Solera, an innovative merchant services credit card payments platform for credit card payments crafted to offer competitive rates and cutting-edge security specifically tailored for automotive enterprises. While merchant services statements may appear initially intricate due to the variety of charges and fees linked to credit card processing, breaking them down into simpler steps can enhance their comprehensibility.
Here are a few ways to interpret a merchant services statement:
Regularly assessing your statements is crucial in detecting disparities and optimizing your payment processing expenses. By comparing past statements, you can identify substantial changes in fees, transaction volumes, or chargebacks.
Peri by Solera is here to assist automotive businesses in saving money. Reach out to a Solera representative today to ensure you’re not missing out on potential savings. Contact us during business hours at 888-974-2952 or schedule a meeting.
Dealerships often face significant challenges when it comes to credit card payment processing. In the automotive industry, transactions can vary greatly in size, from minor sales to major purchases, leading to issues with processing fees. Some providers charge higher percentages for larger transactions, affecting the dealership’s profitability or necessitating higher costs for customers in a fiercely competitive market.
Efficiency and reliability in payment processing are pivotal for dealerships. Delays or technical glitches can disrupt operations and impact customer satisfaction. If payment terminals and point-of-sale (POS) systems aren’t tailored to the specific needs of dealerships, it can result in costly disruptions and potential lost business opportunities.
Let’s explore ten common pain points that independent and franchise dealerships encounter with their payment processing services:
These challenges underscore the importance of selecting a provider that offers competitive rates, reliable technology, industry-specific features, robust security, and responsive customer support to address the distinct requirements of independent and franchise dealerships.
Introducing Peri by Solera – a payment processing service designed to help dealerships reduce costs on every transaction. It enables businesses to swiftly adopt or enhance their payment options with lower fees, bolstering their competitiveness in today’s market.
With Peri, dealership owners gain access to reliable customer support, ensuring that any technical issues related to accepting payments online are promptly resolved. This guarantees no delays in getting paid by customers, providing peace of mind to dealership owners.
Discover how Peri merchant services can revolutionize your dealership’s payment processing experience, boost your competitiveness in the industry, and address these pain points head-on.
Learn more about Peri by Solera today.
Independent car dealerships must remain competitive compared to other independent dealers in their area and large national chains with big budgets, a strong brand identity, and access to a nationwide inventory. It can be tough out there, but many independent dealerships are not only competitive, but they thrive.
How do they do that? They pay attention to industry trends, understand what customers want, and actively work to stay competitive. Here are some ways they do just that.
While the used car boom that sent prices sky high may be winding down, there is still a large demand for quality used vehicles. With the cost of new cars reaching new highs, interest rates rising, and supply chain woes still plaguing the industry, used cars still rate as an excellent choice for many consumers.
Once seemingly overvalued, older cars will take the biggest hit, while late-model cars will hold steady or decline slightly, mirroring the trend for new cars. While EVs are sparking more excitement, long wait lists for new vehicles are still growing, so the opportunity to sell used EVs is enormous.
According to a survey conducted by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), customers want many of the same things they have come to expect from independent dealerships: transparency, honesty, and fair pricing. But that’s not all.
They also prioritize quality vehicles, a wide selection of inventory, and knowledgeable salespeople who can help them find the right car for what they need and that fits within their budget.
Along with those things, customers value convenience and a positive buying experience, including easy financing options, reliable service and maintenance, and a welcoming atmosphere. Essentially, they want a positive and professional experience. How does this translate to what you do every day to stay competitive?
It’s great to know what industry trends are and what customers are looking for, but it is also essential to take action to stay competitive. Here are eight things you can do.
While it can seem like there is a lot of competition at times, this fact helps you focus on ways to improve your dealership, which benefits you and your customers in the long run. This relates to everything from your sales team to your parts department and service desk.
To learn more about the competitive advantages offered by Solera, visit www.dealersocket.com.
Every year, the annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) show attracts thousands of auto dealership employees. They look to network, learn emerging industry trends, and find out about the latest technology that can help them streamline operations and improve improve CX (customer experience).
And we will be there too! We are exhibiting at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center from Jan. 26-29th. There we will demonstrate our industry-leading solutions that help dealerships drive sales, reach more customers, and improve profit margins.
Whether it’s marketing and sales, financing and titling, or service and repair, our solutions help:
First and foremost, our dealership solutions streamline operations and workflows. But they also provide actionable insights, improve CX, and keep customers engaged with their dealerships. To find out more about how these solutions can accelerate your dealership’s success, visit our NADA page.
When you have access to an all-in-one solution, it minimizes the time and resources needed to get the job done. That’s what dealer management software can do for you. It brings together all functions of inventory management into one simple platform. Why wouldn’t you employ it if it makes your job–and that of your teams–easier?
Back to the basics: dealer management software is one easy-to-use system with a full suite of products and plugins. It helps integrate and manage sales, parts, service, finance, insurance, and warehouse inventory, creating a more efficient use of resources from staffing to features and services.
As a saavy DMS user, you likely think you know all the many ways DMS can help, but some may not be readily apparent. Here are nine points to share with your employees and other stakeholders:
Now that you know the many other ways dealer management software can help, let’s look at why you need it:
Dealer management software is the all-in-one solution for your team’s needs, so now is the time to transform. Solera offers enterprise-level solutions, including our innovative DMS and IDMS.
The customer experience (CX) is the driving force of any successful business. More than ever, providing customers with seamless service and access to information is vital to attracting and retaining valuable consumers. For that reason, franchise and independent dealership websites must focus on the customer experience by reflecting this cultural shift and offering auto buyers a variety of ways to find the information they seek.
According to recent data from Qualtrix, 8 out of 10 people feel customer experience should be improved across products, prices and fees, customer service, and ease of use. Brands risk losing9.5% of their revenue on average due to poor customer experience. And more than 50%of customers say they are likely to leave a brand after a bad customer experience.
You will lose potential and existing customers if your website is clunky, outdated, or hard to navigate. People have many choices, so optimizing your website experience, for both the car buyer and service client, is key to generating new revenue and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Here’s what to look for:
The first –and most important– element of a successful dealer website is that it’s responsive, meaning it works the same on any device. Most consumers initially research purchases from smartphones, so your branding must be consistent across platforms. Ensure it’s easy to search, provide chat options and use eye-catching elements that are visually exciting. You are selling your products and services here, and this is your first chance to make an impression before a client ever steps through your doors.
Giving your customers many ways to learn about your products and automotive services on their own can only benefit you. A rich and compelling content offering will allow potential and current customers to explore and find answers to their questions on their own before they meet with you in person. Giving them the information they are looking for helps establish you as a valuable resource, even if they don’t buy anything this time. You can offer this by creating an extensive knowledgebase on your dealership website with testimonials, product videos, and articles on trends or new releases. Customers will check your social media for reviews, so stay on top of those channels. And offering a “Get a Quote”/”Build Your Vehicle” page allows the consumer to envision how the vehicle will work with their lifestyle.
Offering a vibrant car search inventory is another way to elevate the customer experience. Consumers like to do their research, so provide different ways to imagine themselves in one of your vehicles. Here are a few suggestions:
Finally, identify the most utilized features customers visit and mine them for data and insights. And don’t fall back on updates. Continue to innovate and improve your site based on what you see customers engaging with and visiting the most. Crafting a rich and engaging dealer website will elevate your customer experience and set you apart from your competition. Find out more about how to create a new or optimize your current independent or franchise website today!
While there is plenty of attention on digital retailing during the pandemic, there has been little attention paid to how CRM help dealers navigate this period of social distancing. But it’s understandable. The CRM isn’t the new shiny object like digital retailing, and COVID-19 certainly reignited the digital-retail discussion. However, there’s no doubt of the importance of appointment-setting during COVID-19, especially for dealerships located in markets where sales were limited to appointment-only. It’s an art that predates the CRM, but, thanks to that important front-end tool, appointment-setting has become a science for some operations.
What often gets overlooked is just how often CRM providers update this critical tool. In DealerSocket’s case, the cadence is every two weeks. And the focus of late for DealerSocket is appointment-setting, with texting now a key component, thanks to dealer feedback.
Recently, a California dealership customer began sending every internet lead received an initial opt-in text. If there was no response within a few minutes, the following text message — one that garners a response 70% of the time — was sent, “We just received your internet request, and we have a few questions. Do you prefer a call or a text?”
That dealership sent and delivered 26,617 texts.
Then there’s Rashad Tillman, who manages a centralized BDC for a two-rooftop independent group in Southern California. With a keep-it-simple approach, he operates under the belief that a successful road to the sale requires five yeses from a customer. The use of DealerSocket’s SocketTalk texting tool usually accounts for two of those yeses, starting with the opt-in text.
“All we’re looking for is a reply. Once we get one, we’re in control,” Tillman says. And once a customer opts in, the following text is sent, “’We received your lead for the [make and model], which we have available. Do you have time today to test-drive the vehicle?’”
“That usually results in a reply,” Tillman says. “I’ve been working with DealerSocket’s CRM for seven years now, and I figured out real early that texting is now the primary form of communication. So, we try to eliminate as much conversation as possible.”
In one month, Tillman’s 20-member team sent and received 59,402 text messages through the CRM’s SocketTalk texting tool, with two members logging 2,900 sent and received texts for the month. Tillman notes that texting accounts for 80% of his department’s activity when working a lead, which is he says knowing how to configure DealerSocket’s CRM dashboard correctly is critical to making sure no opportunity falls through the cracks.
With DealerSocket’s CRM, managers don’t have to dig into the solution’s reporting tools to keep tabs on their team’s lead-handling activities. Merely creating a dashboard widget for web leads allows managers like Tillman to keep tabs on every opportunity and every text or email exchange. That’s where he says most managers go wrong. They have the talent and skills, but they resist to allow technology to augment their abilities.
In fact, the use of technology is how managers like Tillman are keeping their dealerships in the game when today’s car buyers are shopping more brands, more vehicles, and more dealerships than those car-buyer studies predicted they would four to five years ago. The latest data on that front comes from a study commissioned by Urban Science, which showed that the average car shopper is considering 2.6 brands, visits 2.5 dealerships, and submits, on average, three lead forms.
Regardless of whether your BDC staffers or sales teams are selling appointments or demonstrating to customers a willingness to be shopped to win their business, converting a lead into an appointment requires a CRM-driven process that doesn’t end once the customer says, “yes.”
The best part of a CRM-driven appointment-setting process is that it can be automated every step of the way. In the case of DealerSocket, our CRM’s Campaign Manager allows you to assign your operation’s best word-tracks to a BDC staffer’s scheduled response to an inquiry. It can also automate appointment reminders, confirmation communications, and follow-ups. Then there’s the CRM’s Business Rules automation tool. This allows managers to initiate activities such as vehicle prep and enrollment of customers into appropriate campaigns.
With this, CRM should be included in the digital retailing discussion. When a customer structures a deal through your website’s digital retail tool and submits their information, the question dealers need to answer is, “what does the experience look like when it does?”
By Winston Harrell, Strategic Growth Manager
There is no right way to data mine; the only wrong thing you can do is let all those sales prospects sit untouched in your CRM. Because on any given day, someone in your customer database is thinking about purchasing a new car. The key is not to be afraid to experiment, especially when it comes to the search parameters you use to ID those in-market opportunities.
That holds true when using a data mining tool does the searching automatically. Your store’s average credit score, time of ownership, and annual driving miles can make all the difference. And as we all know, being the first to engage means higher margins. Best of all, you don’t have to pay a lead provider to deliver the business you already earned. Let’s dig into six prospect list you can optimize by simply doing a little homework.
List No. 1: Customers Who Can Lower Their APR While Trading Up
Interest rates are historically low, which means there are opportunities to help past buyers take advantage. Typically, these will be customers with an APR above a certain range. Getting them back into your showroom could mean a new or newer vehicle and potentially saving them thousands of dollars in interest.
Search parameters for this list include average credit score, loan term, and down payment. Specifics vary depending on location. For example, in an area with an average credit score of 650 or less, use 2.5 years or greater as a timeframe of ownership. The reason is that’s the amount of time it takes for consistent payments to improve a credit score.
In fact, it’s a good idea, especially during these uncertain times, to conduct a regular credit bureau analysis. What you need is a credit tier profile of your customers. This knowledge cannot only be used for prospecting, it can guide your inventory sourcing strategy when finance sources tighten up.
List No. 2: Customers Who Can Lower Their Payment While Trading Up
Equity isn’t the only way to help a customer lower their payment while trading out to a new car. Your OEM’s current incentives, as many new car owners discovered through the pandemic in 2020, can also help lower payments. For example, it may be possible to identify car owners who are in a less equitable position but who are eligible for a large rebate, which can help offset their lack of equity.
To identify this list, follow the guidelines of the book your dealership uses to estimate current equity, then adjust according to incentives offered. For example, Kelley Blue Book wholesale plus $500, or NADA average trade-in minus $500.
Some data mining solutions will automatically match a prospect’s current vehicle with a vehicle in your inventory that’s similar to the one they already own. That makes it easy to send emails containing your lower payment offer and a link a vehicle details page highlighting the current model-year version of their vehicle.
List No. 3: Customers Who Declined High-Cost Service Repairs
When customers decline recommended services, it might be an indicator that the repair bill was more than the person was willing to invest. That means there’s a good chance they are weighing their options: Pay $3,000 for that repair or just buy a new car? So, set your data mining tool or search for customers who declined repair estimates above $1,500 and $3,000. Success will depend on brand and location, so do some experimenting.
List No. 4: Customers Approaching End of Lease
What makes identifying end-of-lease customers a popular activity is there’s a deadline for them to make a decision and we know the date. So, it’s a far easier process to set up that campaign than one that centers on equity position. The key is to engage these customers six months out and increase the frequency of communications at the deadline approaches.
When building your lists or setting your data mining tool’s parameters, you may want to target a specific model your used car manage wants to add to inventory. You can also search by specific ZIP code, area code, distance to the dealership, or even finance source. Based on the lease criteria, for instance, certain finance sources may come out with lease pull-ahead program that targets Ford F150s.
List No. 5: Customers Approaching End of Finance Term
As customers approach the end of their finance terms, they may be open to considering a new vehicle. Parameters on what the right timeframe is can be a bit tricky. Location and clientele are major considerations. For example, if the majority of your finance deals are for six years, it might be worth contacting some of your customers as soon as three years into the loan.
Customers who drive 12,000-plus miles per year will be open to trading their car at a higher frequency rate than those who drive only 8,000 miles per year. Other parameters to experiment with include equity position and payments.
The key with this list is to find owners who are past the honeymoon phase of ownership. Similar to the seven-year itch in a marriage, there is a period where most car owners don’t hate their vehicles but would be willing to trade up if presented with the option.
List No. 6: Customers in an Equity Position on Their Current Vehicle
If you’ve ever data mined, you are familiar with this list. It doesn’t matter when a customer purchased their vehicle. If they have a certain amount of equity, it can be traded in for a newer vehicle. During periods like the one we’re in today, this list can be especially helpful to your used car manager.
In addition to identifying equity positions, I recommend slanting search parameters toward what the used car manager’s needs are. Specify makes, models, mileage, and other criteria that you want in used inventory. Once you pull these lists from your CRM, enroll prospects into campaigns that utilize email, text, and phone calls from your BDC or sales team.
While not as “hot” as new lead submissions, these lists should yield many potential car buyers. Plus, it’s a great way to check in with your customers. To make the effort worthwhile, ensure that your salespeople or BDC agents know how to qualify prospects. If someone isn’t interested, close them out and move on.
As previously mentioned, there’s no wrong way to mine your customer database, but a little homework and some experimenting will go a long way toward a fruitful data-mining expedition. But you better have a good process that’s written down, implemented, and managed.
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By Gregory Arroyo
I recall a conversation I had with an industry attorney during the early days of digital retailing. Technology vendors believed the Digital Age had arrived, while dealers were saying, “Not so fast.” My question to my attorney friend was, “What’s the holdup?”
He said the problem is dealers aren’t treating digital retailing as an experience — that customers should be rewarded for taking that path to purchase. He suggested that dealerships with separate facilities for fleet sales should consider directing digital buyers there vs. the showroom.
He then relayed his recent experience purchasing his second vehicle from the same dealership. He called the store, explained that he was a willing buyer who simply wanted to update to a newer model, and negotiated the deal over the phone. Expecting the red-carpet treatment for essentially being a rollover, he felt disappointed when he discovered he’d have to wait like the other customers in front of him.
That conversation came to mind when I came across Urban Science’s “Around the Bend: How COVID-19 Impacts the Next Normal for Dealers,” a report based on an online poll of 1,506 adult consumers. It serves as an update to the firm’s August 2019 report, which served as a reality check for digital retailing.
The 2019 study, which included responses from 2,001 consumers, concluded that car buyers weren’t ready to ditch the dealership experience because they still want to kick the tires and take a test-drive. Respondents also said they still needed someone at the dealership to guide them through the process.
I wrote about why I think that represents an opportunity for digital retailing in an April 2020 blog entry, “Digital Retailing’s True Test.” However, I’d like to share an even greater opportunity revealed in this year’s updated study.
See, while the report did show that a majority of consumers still believe buying a car is too big of an investment not to see (81%) or test-drive (79%), it did show that 67% would be more open to buying online if it was a brand or dealership with which they were already familiar.
Again, my convo with my attorney friend came to mind, but so did a discussion I had with a DealerSocket Strategic Growth Manager. He said the main reason some dealers fail to realize the full potential of data mining is because they don’t have a dedicated process. Well, based on that stat from Urban Science, maybe digital retailing represents a missing link.
Take those data-mining campaigns targeting customers approaching the end of their lease or who qualify for smart payment offers. The emails could contain links to a landing page that explains your offer and a link to a streamlined buying process powered by your digital retail tool.
Back in April, another DealerSocket Strategic Growth Manager told me about a Pennsylvania-based dealer group that was rewarded for having a service-drive sales process when the pandemic forced local officials to limit dealers there to appointment-only sales that concluded with service-drive deliveries.
Before the pandemic, the process delivered 100 units a month behind two dedicated salespeople, a sales manager, and an F&I manager, who actually has a dedicated desk (with enough privacy) in the service area. The reason for that is the group wanted that buying experience to feel different and free of pressure.
The group equips the sales team with its inventory management tool’s mobile app (Inventory+) to feed appraisers with scanned VINs and photos of every car that comes into service. The appraisers then prepare a package that includes a vehicle history report, documentation on the vehicle’s going price in the local market, its fair Kelley Blue Book value, a check voucher for an amount over that value, and the salesperson’s business card.
Signage in the service drive lets customers know they can get a free vehicle evaluation by texting a specific number or talking to their service advisor. All customers get an appraisal, but the hand-raisers represent high-value targets the sales team engages.
However, even customers who don’t bite get the appraisal package. They also get enrolled into a CRM-powered campaign that includes email and a phone call — the latter scheduled for the day after the customer’s service visit to ensure satisfaction and to revisit the offer sheet.
I can see three potential opportunities in that process for digital retailing to have an impact. Maybe it’s a kiosk in the service area loaded with a digital retail tool like DealerSocket’s PrecisePrice; perhaps it’s tablets. Whatever the case, digital retail should be a part of those follow-up efforts, whether it’s a link in an email or guiding customers through the process over the phone and emailing a link to their PrecisePrice deal.
And just maybe that buyer’s journey you create in the service drive serves as the entrance for sales opportunities your data-mining efforts generate.
While 93% of respondents to the Urban Science study expressed some concern with an entirely online purchase process, more than two-thirds said they were comfortable shopping online, signing paperwork digitally, and negotiating price and terms via email, chat, or phone.
Recently, the individual leading the digital drive for one of the largest privately-owned dealer groups in the United States addressed DealerSocket employees over a Zoom call. He talked about COVID-19’s impact, inventory shortages, the group’s efforts to build that clicks-to-bricks experience, and how consumers still need to be educated on what digital retailing is. What caught my attention was his response to whether he believed consumers still want the showroom experience.
“Absolutely … Only a small group of individuals want the Carvana model, and we’re going to be there,” he said. “But most customers want to step foot in a brick-and-mortar shop. If they want to get their payment, we’ll do that and meet them in the showroom.
“So, we believe a critical point in that process is that showroom experience,” he added. “You shouldn’t lose a customer who completed things online because you told them it would take 45 minutes, but it takes us three hours.”
We continue to think about all of you, our customers and partners, during this difficult time. This pandemic has caused deep challenges across our industry and for all of us, and I hope you know that DealerSocket continues to be here for our dealers. Our goal has been to strike the right balance between being prepared for our dealers and the market when our industry recovers and offering discounts to help our dealers as much as possible during this difficult time.
We will get through this, and we will get through this together. We are committed to fighting through this with you. We are beginning to see the first signs of positive trends as we climb out of the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has us all hopeful for the future.
In April, we heavily discounted our software for our dealers. In addition to our discounts in April, we have decided to offer the following DealerSocket billing reductions for May for all of our dealers:
We have already sent out our May invoices, so next week you will receive a credit memo for the above discounts. With that said, similar to our discount package last month, there are some basic qualifying terms listed below.
In addition to these discounts in April and May, DealerSocket continues to offer our customers several promotions and free months of certain software products to help you navigate this crisis. Our offers include promotions for:
Since we are adding promotions and various resources for dealers often, please view DealerSocket’s latest information by clicking here, and, as always, please feel free to reach out to your Customer Success Manager with any questions or if we can help in any way:
If you are not yet an Auto/Mate DMS customer, I hope you know that we can reduce your DMS bill significantly during these challenging times as well as into the future by switching to Auto/Mate DMS. We have several bundled packages that include our Auto/Mate DMS product combined with other DealerSocket products to support you.
Thank you for partnering with DealerSocket. I hope you know how much we value and appreciate your loyalty, partnership, and your business.
I wish you, your families, and your team members health in these unprecedented times.
CEO and President
Details regarding our COVID-19 relief package:
By Gregory Arroyo
Greg Tatum has a warning for dealerships everywhere: Cyber threat actors are working overtime. Noting a definite uptick in suspicious activity since COVID-19 hit Europe in late February, he adds:
“Threat actors are actively searching for new targets through a number of different mediums. Things like social media platforms are a very popular target for information gathering that can be used in an attack.”
Tatum serves as DealerSocket’s head of information security. He joined DealerSocket nearly four years ago from a security services firm that works with companies in much more sensitive environments than automotive. I’m talking about healthcare and government contractors, sectors that see billions of attacks each year. So, yeah, we have the right guy on the job.
“DealerSocket spends a considerable amount of effort protecting our customers’ data,” he notes. “It’s part of what we do just to make sure our customers’ customers’ data is protected.”
Tatum isn’t the only one sounding the alarm. The FBI issued its own warning on March 20, noting that scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal money, personal information, or both.
Just last week, the National Automobile Dealers Association reported that attackers are now putting up COVID-19-related websites that prompt visitors to download an application to receive COVID-19 updates. But you don’t need to download the app, as the site installs a malicious binary file as you contemplate whether you should.
The attack method uses AZORult, software that originated in Russia approximately four years ago to steal data and infect the breached computer with malware.
Tatum also alerted me to a new phishing campaign that pretends to be from a local hospital notifying recipients that they have been exposed to the Coronavirus and they need to be tested.
But it’s not just phishing and ransomware attacks. Business email compromise, or BEC, is also on the rise. That’s when a cyberthief breaks into a legitimate corporate email account and impersonates an employee to get the business, its partners, or other employees to send money or sensitive data to the attacker.
“In this climate we live in today, this is part of business,” Tatum says. “This is part of what we have to deal with as consumers of technology.”
Tatum, by the way, is available to help. He advises DealerSocket customers to contact their Customer Success Managers to get connected. In the meantime, he offers the following four tips to safeguard your organization and your customers’ data:
The following is general security etiquette your teams should employ:
Use company-issued computers and mobile devices for work purposes only. If you don’t have a company-issued device, be sure to check your company’s policies about using personal devices to access your organization’s data or networks.
Additionally, consider creating separate user accounts. Never use your work email for personal reasons or vice-versa. This segregation helps the company maintain the confidentiality of the data it collects and helps you maintain your privacy.
Update your router’s username and password immediately and use a strong, unique password. And never use the same password for your network and your router. Note that most routers ship with default login credentials that are public knowledge.
The comfort of your own home is no reason to forget about physical security. Simple acts like keeping doors locked and not leaving mobile devices unattended in a vehicle are non-technical ways to improve security.
Gregory Arroyo is the former editor of “F&I and Showroom” and “Auto Dealer Today” magazines. He now serves as senior manager of strategic content for DealerSocket. Email him at [email protected].
By Patrick Mendoza
I’m not going to sugarcoat this: The current situation is bad, and it’s going to get worse.
You’ve heard this a hundred times the past couple of weeks, but these truly are unprecedented times. I’ve never seen such a drop in both the stock market and consumer purchasing, and such a rise in unemployment and concern.
The fall due to the pandemic all happened very quickly. Just one month ago, the stock market was at record levels, and analysts were predicting new auto sales to remain around the 17 million mark as it has been for the past several years.
Now, dealerships are closed due to government mandates and have had to furlough large swaths of their sales teams. Sales have fallen off a cliff, and now JP Morgan Chase is predicting auto sales to only reach 10.3 million units this year…10.3 million.
That’s bad. But you know what, this won’t last forever.
In all great moments of history when everything seemed bleak and that the bad times would never end, they did. The title of this post is “Hard Times Come Again No More,” which is the name of a sad song the soldiers used to march to in the Civil War. Think about how bad everything seemed then: brother vs. brother, the United States ripped apart with no hope of reconciliation. But guess what, we did, and we were stronger than ever.
It’s dark now, and, as King George VI said on the eve of World War II, “There may be dark days ahead,” but the industry will be back, and I think it will be back quickly.
Before long, customers will be back. Showrooms will turn their lights on again, and sales will rise.
The question is, will you be ready?
The downtime is your time to make sure you have everything in place for when the good times return. Do you have all of your customers and prospects in your CRM? Are you using a useful data mining tool to help you attract your customers back to your store? After all, it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than attract a new one. What about your inventory? Are you stocking the most profitable vehicles for your lot?
Now, more than ever, it is your opportunity to be ready for when the people come back.
If you haven’t, or if you’re not sure, operators are standing by. It never hurts to call us and see if you’re ready. We’d love to help you.
Patrick Mendoza serves as director of corp. communications for DealerSocket, Inc. Email him at [email protected].