What’s hot in dealer marketing right now?

Go digital and go electric

what's hot in dealer marketing

Going digital and going electric are the two trends that are at the forefront of the minds of marketeers in the automotive industry right now.


I think most people would agree when I say that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digitalisation in the motor trade.

The fact that dealers have had no choice but to adapt to online sales means that many are now able to complete transactions without the use of a showroom at all.

Our own data and trade press shows that people are indeed returning to the showrooms. This is fantastic news for smaller dealerships who couldn’t survive the transition to solely online, however, this doesn’t mean the landmark change in the automotive world can be ignored.

What we’ve seen throughout the UK is a push in national advertising from the likes of Cazoo and Cinch. This has undoubtedly been effective in speeding up people’s willingness to buy a car online.

What we can see from our data is that a percentage of car-buyers are happy with this way of purchasing a vehicle, which is why the model has been successful for the majority of retailers.

People are willing to use dealer websites and classifieds to find the vehicles they want to buy, new and used.

Many are going as far as inputting their finance details to organise monthly payments. The changes the FCA (Finance Conduct Authority) brought in last July mean that people can do this without the fear of over-paying.

The method of sale is evolving.

When I was working in car dealerships there was a clear step by step journey from enquiry to handover.

Now, a customer can approach you at any point within that journey and they don’t want to be taken back to step one.

There are a whole blend of “clicks and mortar” business models appearing. Some customers do all of their research online, then walk into the showroom knowing exactly what vehicle they want to buy. Others go as far as sorting out their “deal” online, then they want to see the car before they finish off the transaction.

Many still want the traditional experience of walking into the showroom and having the whole process handled by the salesperson on shift, including a test drive too.

This has an impact on retailers as it means training in flexibility needs to be implemented to suit customers needs and deliver the experience they demand.

Electric vehicles

Alongside the shift to digital sales, we have the introduction of the government’s ambitious targets of eradicating the internal combustion engine in new cars (starting with hybrids by 2030) by 2035.

This is something that is now very much at the forefront of the minds of marketeers, despite the general concerns of battery life and charging capabilities.

At the moment, used electric vehicles come back after their initial 2–3-year rental period and are viewed with suspicion by retailers and consumers alike.

They are very hard to put a value on due to concerns over batteries and the relative lack of data on used electric cars that come back onto the market.

As more and more electric cars are sold, will manufacturers want to keep electric vehicles on their books for longer as they try to amortize the costs of the battery?

If this is the case, will manufacturers be looking after the first and second sale of the vehicle?

You’ve also got to think of the effect going electric will have on the aftersales departments. There is a theory that workshops won’t be busy as the only thing that will need changing are the tyres.

But I’m not sure…firstly, I don’t see how this can be the case, cars are already in the shop more regularly for software updates due to the sheer amount of technical aspects that are now installed into newer cars. I can’t imagine that going electric is going to diminish this need…if not increase it!

When it comes to tyres, I’ve always said that changing out customers’ tyres is something that service departments need to perfect when it comes to customer service.

This is because a tyre change is usually the first point of defection for a customer. If they decide to use a local garage or a quick fit for their tyre change, rather than your service department, what is going to stop them from doing that for other services?

What do we have to do?

These two integral changes to the automotive industry mean that JudgeService have also had to adapt our surveys.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our customer satisfaction surveys to suit what the situation is currently like, not what it was 10 years ago.

Accurate and current questions reflect a true picture of car buyers needs, wants thoughts and feelings. This presents a true representation for car dealers so that they can improve their service and therefore increase their star rating and overall customer satisfaction.

Adapting our surveys to include the changes in digitalisation and going electric is the best way we can support an industry going through the biggest changes in decades.

If you’re interested in finding out how JudgeService can help your dealership evolve and whilst still continuing to deliver outstanding customer service, then contact us on 01423 649036


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