Before the COVID-19 outbreak, experts predicted 2020 was going to be a record-breaking year for auto sales. Unfortunately, in light of current events, most dealerships aren’t experiencing the record-breaking sales they were expecting. And when state and local governments shut down businesses across the country, many dealers found themselves wondering how to keep their business going, let alone hit their sales goals.
But there is good news.
Fortunately, the curve has already started to flatten in several areas and the economy is beginning to reopen. And while safety remains a top priority for all of us, as business owners we know the country’s economy wouldn’t last forever in lockdown—businesses need traffic to survive, and people are antsy to do something and spend money. Because of this, data experts from IHS Markit are predicting that despite a bad first quarter for car sales, the second half of the year is going to end strong.
Now, this might sound like good news to dealerships, but none of this matters unless your business is equipped to hit the ground running when this thing breaks, so you can take full advantage of the opportunity available for you.
Here’s what dealers need to know about the economic bounce-back.
As states begin to re-open and people shift into their new normal, they will start to spend money again. But they aren’t going to spend money the same way they would’ve before the pandemic hit.
Even the consumers who were able to keep working from home and collect paychecks may not be ready to purchase big items like cars. They’ll be more likely to hang onto their money until the economy is back in full swing, and they’re comfortable making big purchases again.
We experienced similar buying habits from people during in the 2008-2009 recession. And if you’re a dealer who worked through the recession, you know this all too well. You probably remember first-hand struggle to get people into your showroom, and the even tougher challenge to close them. Unfortunately, you’ll probably experience similar difficulties after the pandemic.
But you don’t have to struggle.
There are plenty of customers who will be ready, willing and able to buy from you, if you prepare for the economic bounce-back correctly. And we’re going to show you how to do it. It all starts with the way dealerships typically go about attracting customers.
You see, most dealerships have the same approach to getting customers. This is dangerous because it makes them all look the same. And when you’re trying to get someone’s attention, looking the same as everyone else can be a death sentence, especially now. You just don’t stand out.
And to add insult to injury, all of these ads are targeting the same type of customer—the people who woke up this morning with “buy a car” on their to-do list.
On the surface, this makes sense. If you’re in the business of selling cars, then of course you want to target people who are interested in buying a car. But something has happened to this business over the years. With the influx of technology, the emphasis on transparency and the negative portrayal of dealers and salespeople as two-bit scoundrels out to swindle the public, the people who are already shopping for a car have been backed into a corner where they feel like they can’t do anything until they research everything.
That means they’re spending hours online, reading forums and reviews, comparing makes and models, perusing dealership and manufacturer websites. Hours build to days and days build to weeks.
And at the end of all that, these shoppers know exactly what model, brand and options they want in a car and exactly how much they’re willing to pay for it. They’re locked and loaded.
Even before the pandemic, these shoppers were vehicle specific and price sensitive.
They’re the customers who come into the store and rake you over the coals for a couple hundred dollars. They fight you over every penny on the price because they’re convinced that you don’t deserve to make a cent off the deal. And maybe you can understand where they’re coming from after they’ve done all that work.
These people don’t want your help. They don’t need it because they’ve already done the work. They just want the lowest price. Unfortunately, it’s seldom enjoyable to work with these customers because they are usually guarded, treat your salespeople like the enemy and rarely leave positive reviews.
In the Active Shoppers’ world, low price is the only thing that matters. They believe that dealers are just middlemen, hocking goods. They don’t understand the value, guidance or advice that comes from working with a trusted advisor. Luckily, there is another side of this picture. A picture where people respect and revere dealers for their expertise, commitment to exceptional service and dedication to the community.
But it’s hard to find yourself in that reality when you’re scraping by on razor-thin margins thanks to the price-oriented Active Shoppers.
Luckily, Active Shoppers aren’t the only people who would like a better car than the one they have right now.
You see, Active Shoppers only make up roughly 2% of the population in any given area. Yet most dealerships are fighting over this tiny piece of the pie.
And you can expect the competition for the Active Shoppers’ attention to get even bloodier in the coming months as people hunker down and hold on to their cash, making this small, hard-to-attract group of shoppers even smaller and harder to attract, even after the economy starts to rebound.
But here’s some good news.
While most dealerships work exclusively to attract these difficult and expensive Active Shoppers, they’re not the only customers out there. There’s another group of shoppers who aren’t price-sensitive, are never suppressed by market fluctuations like recessions or pandemics and want to do business with you.
If Active Shoppers make up 2% of the population, then this other group of potential shoppers make up the other 98% of the population.
Now, we know there’s a reason you go after Active Shoppers, they’re already in the market to buy a car. But there is a way to pull people from the other 98% into the market and make it so they only want to buy a car from you.
And doing so would mean more opportunities (and sales) for your dealership as we head into a post-pandemic economy.
Here’s how your dealership can come back and crush it in the new economy with a new type of customer.
While it’s true the people in the 98% aren’t actively shopping for a car, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dreaming about driving a nicer car. That’s why we call them Sleeping Buyers. Think about it, most people you know, maybe even yourself, would like to drive a car that’s newer, cleaner, flashier, and with better tech than your current car.
It’s human nature to aspire to something better. Especially since our cars symbolize so much, from our financial status to our personal style. The idea that everyone wants to drive a nicer car than they currently have is the miracle of the car business.
You see, even though the 98% isn’t actively shopping, they’re still dreaming of upgrading their current vehicle. It’s the same thing that happens with cell phones. When a new model comes out, all the people who stand in line to buy one don’t line up because theirs broke down. It’s because they want one.
And if you give these Sleeping Buyers a chance to get what they want, you can wake them up and pull them into the market. And once you learn how to do this, you unlock a treasure trove of customers who want to work with you and only you.
Here’s how you wake up the Sleeping Buyer.
Most dealers are ignoring them, but Sleeping Buyers want a nicer car. Unfortunately, they’ve taken themselves out of the market for one reason or another.
Some Sleeping Buyers think they don’t have enough for a down payment. Others think they still owe too much on their trade. Perhaps they’re concerned about real or perceived credit issues or they’re just scared of the car buying process in general. But as an expert in the car industry, you know these “problems” shouldn’t hold anyone back from purchasing a car.
By reassuring the Sleeping Buyers that you can help them get what they want, you can wake them up and get them into your showroom. And here’s how you do it.
Stop selling cars. Start selling solutions.
If concepts like credit and down-payment are holding back Sleeping Buyers, then you need to speak to these “problems” in your marketing to attract them. Sleeping Buyers aren’t going to care about your usual sale and discount-driven marketing because they’re not thinking about price or inventory. They’re too focused on the problems that are holding them back.
Instead, your marketing should show how you can help them. And when your advertising focuses on how you specifically can help with people’s specific problems, they’ll come to you and only you. In their minds, your dealership becomes the only option in town.
This type of marketing is called Solutions Messaging. And here’s how you do it.
Most dealerships are doing the same old marketing—they’re talking about their newest vehicles and price. But Sleeping Buyers don’t care about these things. They’re too busy thinking about the problems that are keeping them from buying a car.
This same ol’ same approach to marketing is what every other dealership is doing to attract the Active Shoppers. But we believe that Same Is Lame®. And if you look up “lame” in the dictionary, it means, “pathetically lacking in force and effectiveness.”
Think about that, if your advertising looks the same as every other dealer, and its lame, then it’s also lacking force and effectiveness. This advertising isn’t going to attract the problem-focused Sleeping Buyer.
No, if you want to attract the Sleeping Buyer your messaging needs to be solutions oriented. This means focusing on the things that are on the Sleeping Buyers mind. Solving these problems is the key to attracting the 98% when they are ready to buy.
Attracting Sleeping Buyers has never been easier. Here’s why…
Even if people don’t realize it, there’s never been a better time to buy a car. With low-interest rates, government stimulus checks and big incentives from most manufacturers, many people are in a better position than ever to upgrade their vehicle. That means with the right messaging, Sleeping Buyers will be even easier to attract than ever before.
And focusing on Sleeping Buyers will be especially important for any dealership that wants to surpass their sales goals as we head into a post-pandemic economy. We know things might be slow for you right now, we also know when the economy bounces back, it’s going to bounce back fast.
Whether or not your dealership is ready is up to you.
One thing we know for sure, the dealerships who target Sleeping Buyers won’t experience traffic shortages in their showrooms. That’s why we want to ensure you’re not focusing all your money and energy on the hard-to-find Active Shoppers and instead are preparing for the customers who’ll be willing and ready to buy. The Active Shoppers will still find you. But targeting the Sleeping Buyers will allow you to supplement your traffic in the short-term and grow your dealership reliably when it’s time to scale up.
Now you’re loaded for bear with the principles and strategies it takes to attract the Sleeping Buyers and set your dealership up to come back and crush it. You can start applying these principles in your marketing today and see a dramatic increase in your traffic, leads and sales. When done properly, this increase happens overnight, as if by magic.
We know because we help dealers implement these strategies every day. If you want to see what that looks like for you, click here to sign up for your free demo.