If you're like most car dealerships, you likely have a lot of competition in your area. You're not only competing with dealers for other brands, but with dealers of the same type of car as you as well. To distinguish yourself from the others, there are basically two primary options. The first is to offer significantly lower prices than the others. The other option is to offer better customer service. To avoid having to drop your prices, and thereby reduce your profits, there are a few simple things you can do to improve your customer service.

Importance of Good Customer Service

Customer service is one of the most important things you can focus on, no matter what industry you are in. Companies that focus on customer service tend to perform 4%-8% higher than others in their industry. In addition, 84% of businesses that focus on customer service found an increase in their profits. Lastly, 73% of consumers say that customer service experience impacts their loyalty to a brand.

Working to improve your customer service has two primary benefits. The first is that it can help you convert new customers. If someone has an enjoyable experience while shopping at your dealership, they are less likely to look elsewhere. With more of an emphasis on customer service, you can turn more browsers into customers.

Second, good customer service will help with future sales. People who have a good experience are more likely to not only return in the future for another car but to recommend your dealership to their friends and family. Word of mouth is a major factor in car sales and customer service is the foundation upon which it rests.

Make it Personal

The first thing you should focus on is making customer service more personal. Make it a point to learn your customers' names and to use them whenever you can. If you have subscribers to your email list, only send them offers that might interest them. When a customer comes back more than once, have a record of their past experience so that you can quickly pick up where you left off. Small personal touches can go a long way towards showing customers that you value them individually.

Add Payment Options

Another thing to consider is increasing the number of payment options you offer to your customers. Everyone has a different financial situation and may prefer to pay for their car in a different way. Offering more ways to pay will not only increase customer happiness but move things along faster as well.

In fact, according to Angelo Mendola, the COO of Priority Payments Local, "Some people hate going to an auto dealership because they could end up spending what seems like all day at one. By accepting credit cards and other types of payments that are convenient, you can get our customers in and out of your dealership faster, thus, saving them time."

Look to increase your payment options by allowing cash, credit cards, check, or electronic transfers from all your customers.

Provide Multiple Communications Channels

Along with multiple payment options, you should provide your customers with multiple ways to communicate with you. Everyone has their preferred method of communication, so by providing multiple ways to interact with you, you'll appeal to a wider customer base.

For example, some customers may like coming to visit you in person and discussing a deal with one of your salespeople. Others may want to interact over the phone, browse your stock online, through email, through text messages, or even through social media. It's important that your car dealership not only offer these forms of communication but that you have staff that is trained in using them.

Hire the Right Staff

To make the most of the changes around your dealership, you need to have the right staff. Your staff is perhaps the most prominent form of interaction your customers will receive. No amount of changes to your website or in the number of payment options available will help if you have a staff that chases people out the door.

Now is the perfect time to reevaluate your staff and decide if you need to make any changes. You want people on your team who are not only good at sales but place an emphasis on customer service. They should be the kind of people who go above and beyond to make a customer happy. This goes for everyone, from the sales staff to the front desk assistant to the mechanics.

If you feel like your current staff doesn't place enough emphasis on customer service, this doesn't mean you have to get rid of them. Instead, spend some time training them on how they should act. A few classes and reminders along the way could be all you need to have a more customer-friendly staff.

Offer Perks

Perks are a great way to turn a good customer experience into a great one. Everyone loves to get some extra perks and can let your customers leave feeling even better about their car buying trip. One such perk you can offer is a discount on the price of a car. When you give a customer a discount on the sticker price, they are more likely to make the purchase and be happy about doing so.

Another option is to run different promotions. For instance, you can provide discounts to veterans and active-duty military, special discounts based on the time of year, or even have a car giveaway. You could let your customers know that everyone who comes in and speaks to a salesperson will be automatically entered into a contest to win a free car. The cost of one car could easily be lower than the number of sales you'll make by bringing in more people.

Finally, try giving away simple gifts. Allowing customers to leave with a small gift, even if they don't make a purchase, can improve their experience. You can also hold raffles throughout the day, giving away small prizes to anyone who comes into the dealership. This can be a great way to create a fun atmosphere while also collecting contact information for interested shoppers.

Gather Feedback

Perhaps the best way to improve customer service around your dealership is to simply ask for feedback from your customers. After a customer completes a purchase, look to find a way to send them a survey. In this survey you can ask questions like:

  • How was your experience with us?
  • How can we perform better?
  • Are there any things you would like to see us add?
  • Who was your salesperson and how was your experience with them?

Simple questions like this can go a long way towards understanding where your dealership is lacking and where you need to improve. You can even send out this survey to people who didn't complete a purchase if you have their contact information. This would then allow you to learn more about why someone didn't buy a car.

Go Above and Beyond

What it all comes down to is trying to go above and beyond for your customers. Too often a sale is lost not because of the price but because of poor customer service. A few simple changes, like adding communication channels or giving out some prices, can go a long way towards improving your customer conversion rate.

Spend some time analyzing the state of your dealership and see if any of the above suggestions could be implemented. If so, you'll likely find happier customers lead to more sales and all for just a small investment of time and resources.