How SMS Marketing Can Drive Profits in Used Car Dealerships
When it comes to buying a car there is one thing that the potential buyer places more importance on than anything else. Of course, the price, condition and specifications of the car are major deciding factors, but above this, it is trust that will make or break the sale. For the commercial dealer, word of mouth plays a key role in this, along with online ratings and reviews. But SMS can also help to promote trust and transparency, helping dealerships to drive sales up.
Engage early with SMS marketing
Although people tend to search for cars online, it is still much more common for them to make their follow-up enquiries by telephone. This is typically because people want to know that the car in question is available at that exact moment, and want an instant answer so that they can either arrange to see it or eliminate it from their search. Depending on the location of the vehicle, however, it may be necessary for the person to make travel arrangements in order to view. Whilst larger, established dealerships offer the opportunity to reserve vehicles by placing a deposit, this is not feasible for many. What smaller establishments can do, however, is request permission from the customer to use their mobile number for SMS message marketing. This means that the dealer can provide updates if the status of the vehicle changes, for example:
“Dear Mr Ellis. Budget Cars Ltd are pleased to confirm that vehicle BC001 Vauxhall Zafira 2.0 CDTi is still available. Opening hours Mon-Fri 9:00 – 17:00, Sat 9:00 – 13:00. Please call your sales agent Paul on 01902 342894 if you have any questions. Reply STOP to stop receiving these messages.”
This message is an ideal follow-up to an enquiry and can be used at intervals following the initial enquiry if the vehicle remains unsold. The message might be sent one day later in the format above, followed by a variant three days later that reads:
“Dear Mr Ellis. Are you still interested in vehicle BC001 Vauxhall Zafira 2.0 CDTi? It’s still available at Budget Cars Ltd. Opening hours Mon-Fri 9:00 – 17:00, Sat 9:00 – 13:00. Please call your sales agent Paul on 01902 342894 if you have any questions or would like to know about similar vehicles. Reply STOP to stop receiving these messages.”
In this message, by asking if the customer is still interested we have shown our human side by acknowledging that they may have found an alternative car by now. By offering to discuss similar vehicles, the message also allows for the fact that the buyer may still be looking for a car, but could have changed their mind about the type of vehicle they wish to purchase.
In both cases, giving a named contact builds trust by making the company feel human, approachable and accountable. Both examples also follow best practice for SMS Marketing by including the name of the company and the option to opt-out.
Closing the sale with SMS marketing
Assuming that the customer has chosen to call and book a view, SMS messaging is a great way to help ensure they come through and complete the sale. Let’s assume you already have their permission to receive text messages as covered in the previous section.
Mr Ellis has already received a message confirming availability of the vehicle and called back to book a viewing for 2:30 pm today. He’s not likely to forget – or is he? In a busy world where people have numerous commitments and distractions, SMS reminders are proving popular and helping companies to improve their levels of customer service. A great way to make sure Mr Ellis doesn’t become a no show is a simple message such as this:
“Dear Mr Ellis, We’d like to confirm that we have booked a viewing of vehicle BC001 Vauxhall Zafira 2.0 CDTi today at 14:30. If you need to rearrange, don’t hesitate to call your Sales Manager Paul on 01902 342894. We look forward to seeing you later. Reply STOP to stop receiving these messages.”
In this message, the key information has been conveyed. Above and beyond this, however, the message has given the customer the option to change their arrangement – proving that the company respects their individual customers. It also now names their contact as a Sales Manager, giving the customer an enhanced sense of importance – a proven sales technique. The message also finishes with a warm, welcoming and human tone to emphasise that this is not an automated, computer generated message. By embracing these subtle but powerful elements, it is easy to demonstrate to the customer that they really matter and leave them feeling that you are willing to go the extra mile when it comes to customer service – a big trust builder.
SMS Marketing for after sales support
We are now going to assume that Mr Ellis – impressed by how communicative your company was – went ahead and completed the purchase. We could easily take the simple ‘if it’s not broken don’t fix it’ approach and have no further contact unless he calls with a problem – but this is no way to go about enhancing Mr Ellis’s experience and is not going to get him talking about us to his friends and family.
What we want him to do is feel so satisfied by his buying experience and the exceptional customer service he has received that he wants to tell the world not just about his new car, but also where he bought it. This is where the after sales message comes into its own.
“Dear Mr Ellis, we hope you are enjoying your new car. Remember, your Sales Manager Paul is available on 01902 342894 and will be happy to assist should you have any questions. Reply STOP to stop receiving these messages.”
If you wanted to take this even further, you might invite the customer to participate in a feedback survey. This might be conducted by email, online or even by directly through SMS with the right system in place. For simplicity, let’s say that you would like the customer to check his email for the feedback questionnaire you have sent him. You might expand the previous message as follows:
“Dear Mr Ellis, we hope you are enjoying your new car. Remember, your Sales Manager Paul is available on 01902 342894 and will be happy to assists should you have any questions. We’d really appreciate it if you could take two minutes to complete the feedback survey we have sent to you by email. Reply STOP to stop receiving these messages.”
Depending on the nature of your marketing strategy, you could also consider incentivising the customer to give feedback with an offer such as a free check-up, discounted service or similar.
Given the incredibly low cost of SMS marketing bundles, adopting an SMS Marketing strategy to support car sales is a great way to increase ROI even against the tightest of profit margins.
Most car dealerships and garages already have almost everything in place to start an effective SMS marketing campaign. When customers go into a car garage to have a service or a MOT done, they almost always give the dealership their mobile phone number. The reason for this is simple: if a customer is bringing their car in to get checked and they don't want to wait around for any work to be carried out, they'll simply head into town or run a few errands, until the garage gives them a call on their mobile to let them know the work has been done. That means most garages will have a healthy amount of mobile numbers already in their database, but quite often a garage will overlook the potential that their database of contacts presents.
People have their mobiles within arm’s reach about 22 hours of every day. That means even while they are sleeping! It makes sense then, that if you want to remind someone of an important event (an appointment with your small business for example) you should use their mobile.
Car dealerships are always looking to find new ways to market their inventory. Online marketing has become standard and some use social media. A recent study in US wanted to see if car buyers were actually using social media in the buying process or not.
When it comes to buying a car there is one thing that the potential buyer places more importance on than anything else. Of course, the price, condition and specifications of the car are major deciding factors, but above this, it is ultimately trust that will make or break the sale. For the commercial dealer, word of mouth plays a key role in this, along with online ratings and reviews. Read this article to learn how SMS Messaging can also help to promote trust and transparency, helping dealerships to drive sales up and increase profits.
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