We throw around the term “value” like it’s a conjunction, but when is the last time you thought about what it really means? Value is something that is totally subjective. Yes, money has inherent value. Is it valuable to every customer, though? If you cannot readily articulate what value you or your dealership bring, it’s time for you to sit down and understand what makes you valuable.
Let’s look at it in simplistic terms. You don’t change the overall cost of the vehicle. So what are people buying when they choose you? A firmer handshake? A brighter smile? Think about it.
If you are selling mainstream vehicles using the Internet, you really aren’t doing anything spectacular. Ford has sold no fewer than 400,000 trucks in the past 15 years (more than 800k during eight of those years), so I’m sure they can do it again with or without you handling Internet leads. Instead of solely focusing on your OEM brand, focus on what customers need from you. Save the URLs, social media personae, and YouTube schtick for later. That has a benefit, but not until you understand how it amplifies the value you bring. Start by knowing exponentially more than your customer. Know the vehicles you have forward and backward, as well as where to find more if you need them. Understand what’s in the future product pipeline. Study your competitors’ vehicles as much as possible. Be aware of all incentives, even the crazy, fine-print ones. Make it so the customer no longer needs the Internet. Make them need you.
When I was in retail, I knew from the get-go that my store would never have the widest selection, nor the cheapest prices. We were a nanoscopic store in a microscopic town. Already accepting those FACTS, we decided it was more prudent to shop for customers, rather than have them come looking for us. What did we do? We took the time to understand what was valuable to them, and built our offerings around it.
What did we find? Our customers were looking for the right car, were payment motivated, had negative buying experiences, qualified for OEM fixed pricing, and had better things to do than go shop for vehicles. Understanding all of those factors, we attacked markets where the dealerships had low CSI scores and highly accessorized vehicles. We searched for high concentrations of Tier One Suppliers and extremely qualified professionals (IP attorneys, Neurosurgeons, etc). We knew what our customers wanted, and we literally delivered it to them. We kept our variable pricing low, our PVR high, and we were very happy with our little slice of the world.
With my current clients, it is quite a bit different. Despite the fact that we’ve developed multiple curriculums and programs, our partners need more. Our dealership clients need help with management, governing vendors, marketing, tactics, and execution that goes far beyond Internet Sales and BDC training. Our private equity clients need help understanding dealer culture and the subtle nuances of state franchise laws. Our technology clients need help with user interface, designing meaningful reports, and reigning-in the development of solutions for problems that don’t exist. The bottom line is that people come to us with problems, we have to tailor our services to meet their needs.
Start working on your elevator pitch. Understand what your customer is looking for, and be able to fulfill those needs unlike anyone else. In business, it’s not what we want. It’s what the what the customer wants. Be valuable.