Changing up the game

As the industry returns to a more normal state, dealers will have to adapt and adopt some of the best practices from the pandemic.

As we move past the midway point of 2023, it’s important to take stock of how the first six months have played out, and envision how the remainder of the year may unfold.

It’s no secret that the year to date has been a mixed bag for the entire automotive industry with lingering supply chain issues and sparse inventory across much of our sector.

At the same time, high interest rates, inflation and economic uncertainty remain issues of concern because they impact consumer purchasing power. These ongoing dynamics have forced dealerships to be as creative as possible to anticipate and manage consumer behaviours and expectations.

Over the last many months, with consumer demand far exceeding supply, dealerships had the upper hand with respect to pricing, but that may change as we see production increase and economic clouds continue to hang over consumers.

It likely means dealers will need to be flexible in their pricing and service offerings while also providing incentives that encourage sales — to help both the sector and consumers continue the path to post-pandemic recovery.

With consumers conceivably having more power to shop for the best deal, dealers will need to stand out. Over the past few years, many of us have become more digitally savvy — and now, after being accustomed to browsing online for many months, we know consumers expect a level of service that matches what they can access online — easy, fast, and convenient. And that means sales and marketing teams need to up their games to provide the best customer experience through every stage of the buyer’s journey — online and at the dealership.

As the industry shifts back to a buyer’s market, dealerships are having to shift their focus from what to sell to how to sell — and how to do it better than their competitors.

That’s where digital retailing comes into play and can benefit both the car-buyer and the dealer. It enables dealers and OEMs to find new, creative ways to sell vehicles, including getting new products in front of customers before they are even manufactured.

Of course, one of the most attractive vehicle-types on the market comes in the form of a ZEV, whether that be a car, truck, or SUV. From legacy brands to start-ups, all automotive manufacturers are rolling out and planning new ZEVs to match the variety of consumer needs, lifestyles, and price points. Suffice it to say, the challenge will continue to be in meeting demand and that means dealership staff — from sales to the service bay, need to stay attuned to the latest developments and innovation associated with ZEVs. For many dealerships, this requires an investment in comprehensive, recurring, and up-to-date training initiatives that empower staff to have the answers that customers will inevitably seek answers to.

There is no reason to expect that the present rollercoaster ride we have been on will subside anytime soon — but we can all agree a smoother ride, and one that gives our sector and consumer greater certainty, and predictability would be a welcome change.

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