In this world of digital convenience, it’s easy to forget how important it is to integrate the human touch into every business interaction. This is especially important for car dealerships. One of the benefits of shopping at and doing business with an auto dealership rather than an online vehicle sales platform or a corporate quick-lube/repair chain is this human touch and making customers feel as though they’re part of your family. The best way to highlight this at your dealership is by demonstrating shared values.
You’re Not Selling Cars; You’re Selling Your Name
One of the most important things for an auto dealership owner to realize is that when you work with a brand-new customer, you’re not selling them on the vehicle — you’re selling them on your services as a trusted advisor/salesperson and the culture at your dealership. They can purchase a vehicle from any number of other dealerships (or online stores), so your goal isn’t to convince them to buy the automobile; it’s to show them why they should buy it from you.
This is why it’s essential for every auto dealership to define their culture and values right from the start. Every organization is made up of external customers (the ones who come through your doors to make purchases) and internal customers (the staff). When it comes to demonstrating shared values, those values must first be practiced on the internal customers. The culture of the dealership must be one that values ethics and treating others with respect. Only when those internal customers/employees are treated like family can the team move forward and treat external customers the same.
Develop a Customer Centric Approach
With every customer interaction, the focus should be on what’s best for the customer rather than what vehicle or service will generate the most profit for the dealership. Today, most auto customers arrive at the dealership having thoroughly researched the vehicles they potentially want to buy. A salesperson’s job isn’t to pressure customers into buying a specific vehicle; it’s to provide experienced perspective and insight that will help guide the customer to the decision that’s right for them. This customer-centric approach will help turn a visit to the auto dealership from an intimidating, pressure-filled experience into an enjoyable one.
Demonstrating Shared Values
Corporate Social Responsibility. As an auto dealership, you’re a visible part of your local community. This provides the opportunity of demonstrating shared values through community involvement. You may support charities, back your local Little League or softball teams, or host events such as a Fire Rescue Day with the local fire department. Many dealerships encourage their “internal customers” (employees) to go out as brand ambassadors and volunteer at local events to show the organization’s values of giving back.
Being Eco-Friendly. Being green is another way of demonstrating shared values, especially if your core culture involves being eco-friendly. There are many big and small ways for auto dealerships to do this, from proper disposal of oil, batteries, and other materials used in the service department to utilizing smart lighting and thermostats to ensure that the business isn’t using an unnecessary amount of electricity.
Work-Life Balance. One of the cultural goals in every auto dealership should be to encourage a proper work-life balance among its employees. For some organizations, a great way to accomplish this is by designating specific nights of the week that the dealership will feature extended business hours. A dealership that’s typically open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. may opt to extend their hours until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays. In addition to providing flexibility to customers who have jobs and families of their own, this allows employees flexibility with their work time (should they need to come in later on a particular day to attend a school event or child’s doctor’s appointment, for example).
Listen to Your Customers. These are just a few ideas to help you build your dealership’s values in a way that will resonate with your customers. A focus on values is a form of unique branding that will truly set you apart from the competition. The best strategy for demonstrating shared values is to listen to what’s important to your customers and act on them. This will show that the most important business principle — excellent customer service — is the one you value most of all.