Five Glaring Mistakes Car Dealers Should Avoid

Five Glaring Mistakes Car Dealers Should Avoid

Overwhelmed staff, bad phone handoffs and improper brand representation are among problems that hurt sales.

Many dealers tell me: “I don’t need more traffic; I need help closing what I already get.”

Well that's probably half true. It’s not a bad sales ratio if most dealers close one out of five leads, but it is a hard industry reality.

However (and this is a big however), there are ways to increase quality of traffic without necessarily increasing top-line sales leads.

I visit dealerships almost every day. Having sold cars, I am acutely sensitive to the many factors contributing to what’s going on and what isn’t.

To this point, I came up with five potential reasons why you may not already be closing enough of your traffic. These are the glaring situations I see daily at dealerships.

Overwhelmed business-development-center staff. Often I do the math at a dealership, taking the total sales leads divided by the BDC staff levels. Usually, the average lead count per staffer is way over industry benchmarks. The BDC is literally choking on sales leads. I once found a young BDC rep handling 400 leads a month.

Awkward phone handoffs. Call a dealership, press “1” for sales then get transferred several times only to be put on hold while a salesperson checks on the car a customer is interested in?  Come on. Keep them live. Keep talking. Buyers want to buy or they wouldn’t call. Know your inventory at the start of the day. Don’t find out on the fly as customers wait impatiently.

Improper brand representation. This is a big miss. I once had a really poor salesperson who was gruff, almost rude, definitely unqualified. He worked at a national dealership chain’s Mercedes-Benz store. My wife (who thought it was a comedy act) and I ended up buying a BMW.

Outrageous example aside, selling style must match the buyer. Business people often buy luxury cars. So act like a businessperson.

Don’t hard sell if it’s luxury. Don't under sell if it’s a Kia. Know your brand and the proper selling style.

All-wrong advertising. High-volume domestic stores should use broadcast TV and mobile ads to drive scale and volume. Lower-profit niche-brand outlets should use geo-fencing digital and search terms to drive serious buyers at lower volumes.

Your front entranceway is unwelcoming. Hate to say it, I still see dirty cars, cigarette butts and weeds by the front door of some dealerships. Do you enter your dealership every day through the back? Don’t. Walk the customer walk, you may find a few surprises awaiting you.

Most dealerships successfully avoid pitfalls like these. For the others, use the 5- point checklist to sell more cars.

Adam Armbruster is a senior partner in the business growth firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Company located in Red Bank, NJ. He can be reached at 941-928-7192.

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