Digital Retailing can make your sales personnel three to four times more efficient. This is hard to believe, but it is true. The magic is based on the principle that parallel is better than sequential. Simply put, it is better to work effectively with a large number of customers in parallel, rather than sequentially focusing on one after another. Unfortunately, the latter represents the current automotive retail sales paradigm. Dealerships spend tens of thousands of marketing dollars to generate leads. They then try to convert those leads to in-store appointments so their salespeople and finance managers can work through transactions in the showroom and finance office, one at a time. Imagine a busy airport—say O’Hare—on a Friday afternoon. You look at the sky and see dozens of planes, some circling, waiting for their turn to land. Now, imagine that only one of O’Hare’s seven runways is available. That’s your store on a busy Saturday afternoon. The current retail sales model is inherently inefficient and is becoming increasingly unprofitable.
Fortunately, unlike airports, dealerships have an alternative and, even more importantly, it’s an alternative that today’s customers prefer. In a world where consumers seek transparency, self-service, control, and time-savings, omnichannel commerce has become ubiquitous. Across categories such as electronics, fashion, groceries, and quick serve franchises (i.e., Starbucks and Chipotle), online ordering with the option of in-store pickup or home delivery is here to stay. While buying a car is certainly more complex, there are many aspects of the transaction that can be put in the hands of the customer, whether they are at home or in your showroom. Omnichannel commerce is already happening in automotive (see Carvana, Tesla, Carmax, and others), but many dealerships have not yet embraced the potential opportunity or recognized the competitive consequences of failing to adapt to this new reality.
At Roadster, we have the good fortune of working with many of the industry’s most progressive dealerships and salespeople around the country. These dealerships’ results and the individual successes we have seen highlight the potential of omnichannel commerce. Case in point: Dustin Dutterer, an Automotive Advisor at Sun Automotive in small town Cicero, New York. Working in the old sales paradigm, Dustin found himself perpetually short on time, running around non-stop, and working long hours, ultimately selling 10 to 15 cars per month. It was a good living, but he felt like his success was ultimately constrained by the number of hours in a day and the business hours of his dealership. The introduction of omnichannel commerce unlocked his earning potential. Sun Automotive implemented Roadster’s Express Storefront® in late 2018 and transformed the store’s sales process from one focused on appointment setting to one focused on online ordering and customer empowerment. The results have been staggering. For the five months from December through April, Dustin has averaged 36 sales per month. That level of performance is outstanding, but not unheard of in the industry. What is unheard of is what he also said: “Using Roadster I’m not really working much more than 40 hours per week.”
Gabe Hale works in a much larger metro market at Rallye BMW in Westbury, NY, just 30 miles east of Manhattan. Rallye consistently ranks in the top 5 nationally for BMW new car sales. Managing that volume efficiently is critical for Rallye’s bottom line. Rallye implemented Roadster’s Express Storefront® two years ago to help make their sales process more efficient and to modernize their customer experience. Gabe had also been keenly observing his customers’ buying patterns evolve over the years and was looking for a way to meet and exceed their changing expectations by leaning into the principles of omnichannel commerce. And boy has he figured it out. In December of 2018, Gabe sold an astonishing 61 cars! He is also now on a 3-month streak of selling over 40 cars per month and is easily heading for a 400+ unit year. Gabe says he simply would not be able to handle the amount of transactions he is managing every month with the traditional sales process.
We all know that the work hours for a high volume salesperson in automotive retail are brutal. To reach over 35 sales in a month typically requires six or seven 14-hour workdays per week. That lifestyle is unappealing to most people, making hiring and retention a constant challenge for dealerships. Generally speaking, car selling doesn’t scale well. So how do Dustin and Gabe do it? They embrace the “parallel is better than sequential” principle. They leverage their dealerships’ Express Store to concurrently guide their customers through each step of their purchases online, from home or from their mobile devices, letting them decide when and where it is convenient. Instead of waiting at the dealership to get a trade-in appraised, their customers can use their phone to snap a series of photos of their vehicle and answer a few condition questions to get an online appraisal. Similarly, the credit application process is managed online, saving significant time compared to the traditional in-store finance process. When the purchase steps are not completed from home, they leverage their Express Store on the showroom floor, allowing them to handle multiple customers in the showroom at the same time, setting each up at kiosks with self-service tasks.
PARALLEL IS BETTER THAN SEQUENTIAL
With this approach, they not only maximize their efficiency, but their customers also rave about the ease and transparency of the process. Customers feel in control and appreciate that their time is respected. Time is the one thing no one has enough of. If a customer is at the store for more than 90 minutes, Dustin and Gabe fully appreciate the rising opportunity cost to themselves and their customers. Roadster’s technology enables them to provide an efficient customer experience and sell 35+ cars a month without burning the candle at both ends. To bring things back to the airport analogy, Dustin and Gabe can have multiple runways open at all times, even in the middle of the night, and planes can land in very short intervals.
While Dustin and Gabe continue to set the standard, we are seeing more and more salespeople at other dealerships, big and small, leveraging omnichannel commerce solutions with impressive results. Logically, It makes sense. If you can double or triple the capacity of your sales team by putting components of the transaction into the hands of your customers, you can do more with less. In a world of continued margin compression, we need creative solutions like this to keep our dealerships in the black. Don’t you agree?