4 Ways To Build Trust in Your Car Dealership
When markets are tight, inventories are short and prices are high, active customers will buy a vehicle from any dealership that has one available. That’s the world we’ve been living in. But as tensions in the market decline and things stabilize, those customers will only return to the dealers and the relationships they can trust.
Working against a backdrop of innuendo, bad publicity and media bias, you are your reputation. People need to know they can trust your dealership. From keeping appointments to honoring deals and delivering cars as promised, be what all customers want — a dealership they can return to with confidence.
Developing trust is easy. Just do what you say. Take care of customer needs before your own. And take pride in being a part of the community.
Here are four key steps to help you get there.
1. Tell It Like It Is
A potential customer’s first interaction with your dealership will often focus on what cars you have available and how much they cost. When they make contact online, or call or come into your store, tell them what they want to know. If you have the inventory, be accommodating. Give potential buyers the opportunity to conduct the transaction in their own time, and they’ll be more likely to want to do business with you.
If you don’t have the inventory, be truthful, explain the situation and suggest a comparable vehicle. Explain what ordering a car means in terms of price and wait time. It’s exactly this kind of transparency that creates trust. If that means you lose a sale because you don’t have what they want, you’ve gained reputational points that can be cashed in when they need service or on their next vehicle purchase.
2. Let Them Speak for You
According to an Invesp study, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Real customer experiences hold more sway with potential customers than clear-cut marketing. Dealerships with a preponderance of positive reviews are at a distinct advantage.
After a good sale, when you hand over the keys, gently mention how much you would appreciate a few kind words. Consumers are used to being prompted for their opinions — satisfied customers are more than happy to share their experiences. You can even make it easy for them by sending an email or texting a link to your online survey platform.
Once your customer has driven off the lot in their new vehicle, stay in touch. Check in after a few weeks to make sure things are going well. Be good to people, and they will say good things about you.
3. The Currency of Social Media
Social media platforms are an effective and efficient way to build trust in your brand and position yourself as a respected thought leader. Posting short videos that showcase satisfied customers or offer tips and tricks is a proven strategy. Letting others speak for you and providing useful information is always better than any direct selling on these platforms.
It’s a good time to be creative. Chances are your salespeople are already using these tools to communicate with friends and build a following. Encourage them to do the same for your dealership. Post a video (with permission) of you handing over the keys to an excited customer and ask them to say a few words. This immediate, off-the-cuff testimonial is a great way to show your dealership brings the deals. As experts, you can film some simple maintenance processes or show things like the proper installation of a car seat. Making and sharing these videos can be fun and most importantly, profitable.
You’ll also want to leverage your CRM to build up your video library, especially when you take customer videos and want them as a part of their record. Most CRMs should have a mobile application so salespeople can log in securely and upload videos from their mobile devices.
4. Stay in Touch
There’s so much information available to consumers. Many will know more about inventory shortages, chip issues and supply chain problems than you do. Being a good communicator and connecting with potential customers is often a product of admitting what you don't know, honestly and directly. Only make promises you can keep.
With most dealerships selling pipeline due to inventory shortages, open and consistent communication over the phone, via email, and through text is the way to build trust. Staying in touch with a customer who’s put a deposit down on a vehicle or placed an order lets them know you’re paying attention to what they care about. Using your CRM to set communication reminders ensures nothing will fall through the cracks.
In Trust We Trust
Steel beams, a polished floor, spotless glass, sparkling Service bays and free coffee does not a trusted dealership make. Even more than the people that work for you, you are what the buying community thinks and says about you. Word of mouth used to be one-to-one, today it’s one-to-hundreds or even thousands. Paying attention to these four areas will help make sure that when people are talking about you, they’re saying you’re a dealership you can trust.