In response to increasing customer expectations for a better dealership experience, a lot of attention has been paid over the past several years to the processes inside the dealership for buying a car.
Yet, the customer experience outside the dealership is equally important, especially since the vast majority of consumers start their car-buying journey online.
Delivering a poor experience online means you’ll likely never get to see those shoppers in your store.
To help improve the customer experience outside your four walls, consider looking at your dealership from the outside-in to examine your dealership processes and experience what your customers experience.
Switch your dealer hat for your customer hat and try this exercise:
Start by searching online for a vehicle. For the sake of this exercise, let’s say you are a Toyota dealer. Using your search engine of choice, look up a few phrases such as “best price on a Toyota Camry” or “new Toyota Camry in (your town).” What other phrases might your customers use to begin their online car search?
Does your dealership show up? Are you in the first five results? Are you showing up in the ads on the page?
Click through some of those ads. What is the experience like? Which of your competitors are coming up? And, can you identify why?
Next, continue clicking through and searching the way your buyer likely would, visiting a few of your competitors’ websites. Which dealership would win your business? Is it because of prices? Is it website design and ease-of-use? Or something else entirely?
Pay particular attention to your experience on your competitors’ sites. Are there design features that are distracting or confusing? Or, is it easy to submit a lead, find the information you need, and move forward with purchasing the car?
Now, go to your own website and make some comparisons.
- Where does your website rank in search results in comparison to your competitors?
- Can you quickly access your vehicle inventory from your site?
- Do you carry the exact Camry you’re looking for (color, equipment, etc.)?
- Is it easier to find the Camry you want on your competitors’ sites? Is it easy for a customer to understand the trade-in options at your dealership? What about financing and incentives? Or, prices and discounts?
Now, be honest. If you were the customer, from which dealership would you buy? What should you change to make the online search process easier and better direct your customers to your inventory?
Look at your dealership as a customer would, see what they see, and make the necessary adjustments to give them the best experience possible.
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Chris Walsh is vice president of sales at Naked Lime Marketing. His knowledge of market strategy, competitive analysis, and the sales process fueled his success in previous positions with the company, including regional sales director and vice president of business development. Walsh holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Ohio University.