Three “Almosts” in Auto Retail
They say “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The auto industry has been talking about certain ideals like a seamless solution or a complete online to offline process, but in many ways, we’re not quite there yet. While certain “almosts” are a near miss, others could indicate that there are better opportunities we should pursue. Here are three “almosts” I’ve encountered and how we should address them as an industry:
Almost a “Seamless” Solution
Seamless may sound like the ultimate buzzword, but the concept behind it is authentic: simplicity. When we talk about something being seamless, we’re really talking about providing the best customer experience — particularly one that maps onto customer expectations and doesn’t leave them confused or frustrated at any point in the process. As dealers, choosing tools that integrate well and communicate together is key to providing a clean front-end experience for the customer. Moreover, translating their technology experience into the dealership is key. Take a hard look at your processes to evaluate whether they promote a continuous and well-defined experience for your customer. While we’re not quite there, this is an “almost” I believe is achievable, and most importantly, profitable.
Almost Online to Offline
As an industry, we’ve been pushing for dealers to embrace the complete online to offline solution, citing the statistic that 20 percent of people are willing to purchase their car completely online, never having to interact with a person throughout the process. But this “almost” is one that we should embrace. While 20 percent say that’s the ideal, the other 80 are still happy completing some portion of the process in the dealership. So how do you set up your dealership for success when you could have two (or more) very different types of consumers? Provide options for your customer. For instance, some might want to configure their deal online while others might only want to see what credit options are available. Most importantly, make sure that the online processes connect to the experience they’ll have once they do (if they do) step foot in a store. Choose the tools that are right for your dealership to give your customers control.
Almost an End-to-End Solution
In an ideal world, we would have one magical tool that did it all. But in reality, a tool that did everything would be just that – magical. It’s no secret that CDK Global has previously aspired to be this type of fairy-tale solution for our dealers, but we’ve learned that it would take some type of sorcery to provide a true end-to-end solution. But, this is one “almost” that we’re not trying to force. A tool that enables you to do everything you need at the highest level is more desirable than a tool that “does it all.”
It’s important to understand that “almost” isn’t always a bad thing. Especially in the midst of a changing industry, “almost” means that we’re pursuing cutting-edge solutions to our problems and working to provide our customers with the best experience. It also means that we should constantly evaluate the strategies we’re pursuing to assess if they’re still the best option. If you always strive to provide the best experience for your customers, the effort will ultimately result in more cars sold.