Three tips for combating online price shoppers

Publish Date: 
Jul 25, 2013
By Rod Stuckey

I WAS RECENTLY speaking with a veteran dealer who said, “this business has changed more in the last five years than the previous 20.”

He then explained why it’s simply not possible to hold gross on vehicle sales due to the digital age and the abundant amount of information available to customers.

Ironically, I just had a conversation with a different dealer who recently purchased his second location and was having his best year ever. He gave much of the credit for his success to his aggressive online and offline marketing.

And he’s never mentioned discounts.

Other than the way these two dealers market their dealerships, the biggest difference between the two is attitude. Whether you think you can or can’t, you’ll get to be right. If you decide it’s not possible to hold gross, you’ve given up your power, and it will not be possible.

The dealer achieving success is very aggressive. He has at least one major event per month at both of his dealerships, regardless of the season. His staff is trained on the importance of capturing customer and prospect data so he can continue marketing to them in the future. At his primary location he has more than 7,000 email addresses, 10,000 names and addresses within a 45-mile radius of his dealership, and over 3,000 likes on Facebook. In fact, his customers hear from him so often with personality-driven, relationship-building, one-to-one communication that most of them are now immune to offers and advertising from competitors. They have a feeling of belonging and a sense of community. When they come in to buy, they haven’t shopped around because they already know, like and trust their dealer.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the challenges and emotions of customers coming in with invoice price on a new unit and Kelley Blue Book value (retail) on their trade-in along with seven price quotes from competitive dealers, this is still the exception and not the norm — as long as you are properly marketing to your buying base.
When I asked the dealer facing the challenge how many emails were in his database, he thought the number was around 200 or so. He had no clue how many total records were in his DMS. It’s likely his customers have a feeling of apathy toward the dealership since they never hear from him.

The reason this dealer believes the majority of his customers are hardcore online shoppers is because he has no loyal following and never provides compelling reasons for his existing customer base to visit the store. He also never reaches out to “conquest” and “orphan” owners in his market area to invite them to his dealership for a party. (Continued)