By this point, it’s no surprise to dealers that the vehicle buying journey is changing, with many dealerships being quick to adapt to the sudden surge in demand for digital retailing options. While the future of auto dealerships is undoubtedly evolving, the change welcomes new opportunities for dealership growth.
But where should dealership leaders begin planning for dealership growth? To determine exactly where to focus their growth efforts, dealership leaders need to look inward, starting with the most important pillars of success: the core of your dealership.
While the industry is entering recovery – and sorting through new challenges related to inventory delays and new digital demands – the most successful dealerships have discovered that leaning on their core values when challenged empowers them to survive and thrive.
In this blog post, we share how dealership leaders can strengthen the core of their stores for future dealership success in three steps:
Determine What Makes Your Dealership Unique
The “core” of your business is everything your dealership does to serve your customers. This isn’t only the vehicles on your lot, or your sales and service staff, but the processes, strategies and structure that holds it all together.
Internally, your dealership’s core includes the processes for hiring and training new recruits, the ways you inspire and motivate your team and how your staff does everyday tasks behind the scenes, like managing invoices, for example. Externally, this includes the way your sales staff communicates with customers and the processes supporting your customer experience.
Think of it as an athlete: The core is what holds your whole body, or business, upright. The core of your dealership isn’t necessarily as exciting as other aspects, but these processes can’t be neglected. If dealers focus solely on building their “glamour muscles” by constantly chasing quick wins or what’s hot right now, it may appear on the outside like you’re achieving a level of success – but problems are sure to arise over time.
To define your dealership’s core, think about what makes your dealership special and what keeps your customers coming back. This could already be part of your brand promise, or perhaps this has evolved with time, but determining what makes your dealership unique is the first step to defining your core.
While defining your dealership’s core may seem like a massive undertaking, in most cases, you can start by determining what once made your dealership successful in the first place. By doing so, dealers can better empower their team and improve the processes supporting these critical pillars – all in actionable language your team can put to use in their day-to-day work.
Identify the People & Processes That Support Your Core
Once your dealership’s core processes are defined, it’s critical to determine who is supporting these functions. Chances are members of your team may wear multiple hats and support multiple functions – and that’s OK. However, with so much interconnection between departments, it’s critical every member of your team is working toward the same goal.
Look for opportunities to improve the efficiency of your processes to better support your team.
For example, a recent study found teams can spend close to 18 hours a week deciphering webs of ineffective communication. Clear, concise and effective communication is critical. Start by ensuring each team member understands their individual role and has a clear view of how they fit both into their team and into the dealership.
By doing this, dealers can ensure they have the right people in the right roles to support their core for the future. Research finds employees with more specific roles can better enhance the customer experience (53%), drive revenue growth (53%) and develop new products and services (45%).
Just as firefighters fight fires and surgeons perform surgery, every role inside the dealership requires specific skill sets and tools – and these skills are changing. In fact, a recent study found less than 50% of consumers believe the dealership sales consultants can give them all the information they need.
It’s critical your dealership team is prepared and equipped to meet new customer expectations to support your dealership’s core. It’s also critical every department is involved in this process to identify gaps, customer pain points and opportunities to improve.
Leverage Data to Support Ongoing Efforts
Of course, defining your core or determining how the teams or departments support your dealership is nearly impossible without the right information. However, while research finds 91% of business leaders believe data-driven decision-making is critical to company growth, only 57% say they base their business decisions on data.
Utilizing up-to-date and high-quality data is critical to both understanding how each team and process inside your dealership supports your core and identifying opportunities to strengthen these areas. Further, without benchmarking your current success, it would be nearly impossible to accurately determine the impact of success of any core-strengthening activities.
Commit to regular and routine data maintenance and task your managers to analyze these reports on an ongoing basis. Ensure your reporting dashboards include both comprehensive sales metrics like per-sale profit and marketing ROI, as well as staff-specific insights to measure individual progress.
Regardless of the specific data you are measuring and the tools, benchmarking your successes along the way is critical to determine if your changes have been effective or if they need further improvement.
While taking a step back to define and strengthen your dealership’s core processes may seem rudimentary, this kind of refinement empowers dealerships to continue growing and meeting evolving consumer demands for the long-haul by better supporting their most important people and processes.
Interested in learning how Mastermind’s training or sales and marketing solutions can help strengthen your dealership’s core processes? Contact us to learn more.