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3 Auto Sales Best Practices: The Dealer Download

Inspired by the incredible work being done by our dealer partners in more than 1,500 dealerships around the country, Mastermind Chief Commercial Officer launched the video podcast series “The Dealer Download” in 2020 with the goal of helping dealers navigate the pandemic and beyond. 

Since then, the series has continued to evolve alongside the industry with discussion topics ranging from leadership challenges to navigating new consumer behaviors. However, the focus remains the same: helping dealers sell more vehicles. Each month, Andrew invites one of our dealer partners to share their unique perspective and car sales strategies for dealership success. 

In this blog post, we highlight three important auto sales best practices and lessons learned during The Dealer Download discussions, including:   

  • Plug in and connect, literally and figuratively.
  • Learn and reflect to make informed decisions
  • Help customers how they need to be helped

Plug in and Connect – Literally and Figuratively

It may seem like enough to jump at new technology and ideas, but it’s important dealership leaders step back and ask: Is our dealership doing enough? Even if your team is hitting their goals, is your dealership plugged into the latest programs and trends or connected to customers in the most effective ways?

At the dealership-level, leaders should seek out new ways to build bridges between departments to support a great customer experience at every touchpoint. For example, with buyers increasingly looking to digital retailing options, a dealership BDC can be a source of proactive appointments for the sales and service team if they are equipped with the right technology to connect online touch points to data-driven consumer insights. 

Seeking out opportunities to connect departments and build relationships doesn’t only benefit your customers. This process empowers dealership leaders to “plug in” to their operations. By increasing their understanding of how their dealership works, dealers can address challenges and make the most of their opportunities

In the above episode of The Dealer Download, Dale Harrison from RBM of Atlanta Mercedes-Benz notes the importance of asking questions to the successful people around you – and then asking some more questions. Learn everything and “plug in” to the dealership, so even if new problems arise, they can be quickly mitigated.  

Learn and Reflect to Inform Decisions

The last year has presented numerous new challenges for car dealerships – as well as new opportunities for those who knew where to look. Forward-thinking dealership leaders like Suzanne Cochrane of Helms Bros. Mercedes-Benz explained the importance of making informed, data-driven decisions when facing uncertainty when chatting with Andrew in Episode 2 of The Dealer Download. 

Suzanne says her team needed to pause and take a step back to analyze how they would inform their decisions during such unprecedented times. This important process of stop, assess and learn may seem obvious but is easy to overlook while searching for answers – even during more “normal” times. 

A proponent of “service leadership,” Suzanne explains taking a step back to think through your role and responsibilities to your team outside of your day-to-day work. “You influence so much of what goes on in your dealerships,” says Suzanne. Reflecting on this empowers leaders to ultimately assess how they’re helping their team and overall dealership grow, which informs their next steps. 

Help Customers How They Want to be Helped

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned by many dealers in the last year was the importance of adapting. Dealership leaders were challenged to find new ways to deliver their brand promise – the reasons why their customers should continue to choose their dealership over the competition. 

In Episode 1 of The Dealer Download, Doug Fleming of Findlay Chevrolet says for his team, this meant looking out for people, first and foremost. From instituting vehicle pick-up and delivery options to providing hand sanitizer and covering vehicle interiors, his team did whatever was needed to keep customers feeling safe. 

While for many these changes were ushered in by necessity, the convenience of new pick-up and delivery options, enhanced digital retailing environments and other updates in the last year has ultimately introduced a new way of selling and buying cars that is here to stay. 

Rather than resisting these changes in the car sales process, proactive dealers like Doug and Findlay Chevrolet realized that while some consumer buying preferences and behaviors were changing, a key fact remained the same: Making things easier means happier customers. 

Customers want – and expect – convenience, and dealers need to seek out new ways of simplifying their customer experience both online or in-store. Think about convenience from your customer’s perspective, analyzing common customer complaints or roadblocks as opportunities to improve. This could mean offering haggle-free pricing, speeding up paperwork through online application forms and even reimagining your waiting areas. 

While the last year has ushered in a new era of automotive sales, the conversations we had on The Dealer Download showcase how proactive dealers are leveraging time-tested best practices to adapt to new challenges and embrace new opportunities.  

Catch up on the latest episodes of The Dealer Download here

Interested in learning how Mastermind’s solutions can help your dealership adapt and succeed? Contact us to learn more about our offerings