Competition is constant in the auto dealer space. It’s not just a matter of all the other dealerships that may be within proximity of you, but also of the ever-growing online car sales space.
Regardless of that competition, there’s a special pull that many auto dealerships have. The big signs, an entire showroom filled to the brim with shiny new cars, and even those oddly mesmerizing inflatable tube men that flail around outside.
By design, many dealerships have always commanded attention and projected a constant sense of fun – and in a competitive marketplace, fun is crucial.
Just like you wouldn’t make an awkwardly quiet coffee shop with miserable customer service your coffee spot of choice, customers will avoid – or quickly leave – any dealership that feels lifeless and uncomfortable.
Yes, buying a vehicle is a significant and serious decision, but it should also be an enjoyable experience – and where a customer chooses to make the purchase must reflect that.
Make Every Customer Feel like a Guest
The worst thing you can do with any customer is to make them feel like just another customer.
No matter the business, an important aspect of the customer experience is to ensure that they ultimately feel like a guest in the same way they would feel like a guest at a hotel or resort.
From the moment they walk in the door to moment they leave (whether they’re driving away in one of your vehicles or not), you need to make your guests feel comfortable and happy. Yes, you want to have them buy from you, but you also need to be respectful of the time and information they may need before committing to such a big decision.
While they’re in your showroom, offer your customers coffee or snacks. If they have kids, a supervised play area is a perfect solution in terms of ensuring the kids have fun while the parents have ample time to go from vehicle to vehicle and consider their options.
Whatever steps you can take to ease the experience for those who visit your showroom, the better.
Set Up Your Dealership in a Way that Makes it Fun to be Around
When I was about 10 years old and lived in Australia, I went with my parents and siblings to a dealership to finalize the purchase of a second-hand (but still relatively new) car. It was exciting for us, as our current car at the time was a late-1980’s Honda Accord.
The new car my parents were going to buy had a lot of features the old Accord didn’t: air-conditioning (a big plus in the heat of Australia), power windows, power steering, and a seat fabric that didn’t run exceedingly hot in the sweltering summers. All of us were excited.
20 years later, I can still recall that excitement – and that’s the thing about buying a vehicle, it’s a genuine, exhilarating experience; and that’s why (again) it’s so important for dealerships to focus on fostering that enjoyment.
From signage and snacks to music and even how your salespeople present themselves, each piece is an important part of the fun dealership puzzle.
This can be elevated with themed promotions, giveaways, and in-showroom events that incentivize customers to come in and look around. Your showroom’s atmosphere can really help set you apart from competitors – and this especially applies to your online competitors who can’t offer the same kind of in-person experience.
Share in the Excitement
One of the key components to a good time often comes down to who you’re having a good time with. As such, your staff need to share in the excitement that your customers are feeling. Because, let’s be honest, nothing can stifle someone’s excitement much more than having it dismissed by whomever they’re around.
When you share in the excitement with your customers, it elevates the experience for all involved. Customers feel more engaged and it makes their time at your dealership memorable. Even if they don’t decide to make a purchase on their first visit, leaving a great impression will better the chances that they’ll return or even refer you to friends and family.
Going out of your way to implement events, rewards, and activities that heighten the sense of fun at your dealership, will – in turn – drive even more excitement.
For example, one of our clients, Sutherlin Nissan, regularly runs random prize draws. Customers who come into the showroom can spin a wheel full of varying prizes, from Apple products and portable GPS systems to larger prizes such as a Cruise for 2.
Through this ongoing effort, Sutherlin Nissan have maintained a strong, regular interest from customers – new and repeat – toward their dealership. And, as you’ve likely guessed, it’s allowed them to build a reputation for providing great experiences to those who visit – regardless of whether those customers ultimately make a purchase.
Reward Your Customers
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss just how powerful rewards can be in driving customer interest, customer loyalty and, of course, inspiring fun in your dealership.
When someone receives a reward or gift, the most common reaction they’re likely to have is one of gratitude.
So, if you have a customer who’s now ready to buy a vehicle after spending the last enjoyable hour or so in your dealership, one sure-fire way to elevate that enjoyment is to offer them a little something extra with their purchase.
What that reward/gift ends up being is your call, but we know from more than 20 years in the travel incentive industry that experiential gifts go a long way. This could be promotional travel to a beloved tourist destination such as Las Vegas or Disney World, or it could be tickets to a sporting event or concert.
That’s not to say that you can’t work with gift cards or cashback offers, but experience-based gifts tend to really stand out to customers. The perceived added value – both on a monetary and experiential level – is significant.
If you’d like to learn more about how travel incentives and other experiential rewards can foster more fun and excitement in your showroom, as well as drive sales and customer loyalty, get in touch with us today.
You can contact us via the form at the bottom of this page or through our contact page to get started.
Main image: Photo by Dieny Portinanni on Unsplash
Happy customer image: Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash