The way we buy cars is changing rapidly and car dealers are struggling to keep up with how they deal with the needs of the modern customer. However no matter how much technology improves our lives and empowers us as consumers, there will always be those that will buy in the traditional way.
The irony is that as we have just had a record year for online purchases (even my old nan did her Christmas shopping exclusively on the net) and with high streets emptying faster than a new year’s eve Jägerbomb, car dealers continue to invest in showroom facilities at the behest of their brand partners even though the evidence suggests that buyers would probably rather have a better deal than to pay for the dealers to recoup their investment in a swanky showroom.
Whilst surveying some dealers we know on their thoughts for how business will go in 2013, they almost to a man said their biggest challenge was still how to drive showroom footfall.
The traditional form of marketing in local papers and radio are still relevant at strategic times but, due to the net, classified ads have become much cheaper yet still many dealers are stuck with coming up with creative enough ideas that will encourage prospective customers into their showrooms.
Of course there will always be finance renewals, hitting the database with special offers and speaking to service customers about potential car changes but many dealers are in danger of getting into the cycle of the continual sale which ultimately ends up with customers becoming immune to them.
I was in a shop buying some shoes on Christmas eve (yes I know, utter madness) which were in the sale at half price, I said to the shop guy ‘how come you’re sale finishes today, I thought it would go on to the new year?” and he tells me “this one finishes today and we have another starting on boxing day!!”
What’s the point? Why not just have 2 or 3 seasonal promotions at optimum times and sell loads but accept that perhaps other months will not be quite as productive?
I think that car dealers will need to recognise that there will be opportunity this year and by having a broader selection of cars to choose from (hint, hint) they can perhaps appeal to a larger share of customers.