Do you remember the first time you got behind the wheel of a car? You were likely a teenager, thrilled to get your first taste of freedom and take a step into the adult world. For many people, getting a driver’s license and a car is a huge milestone – but today’s teens disagree.
Only 46% of 17 year-olds in the U.S. have a driver’s license, down from nearly 70% in 1983.
When asked why they don’t have a license, respondents most frequently said they’re too busy to get one, but the second most popular answer was that owning and maintaining a car is too expensive. Millennials are waiting longer to start families, own homes, and purchase cars, and perhaps not surprisingly there are currently more teenagers that own smartphones than teens that own cars.
To survive the decline in driving, the auto industry must adapt to serve a new customer base.
No one knows if Millennials will drive more as they get older or turn away from traditional cars altogether, which places car dealerships specifically in uncertain territory. After all, this generation and their children will eventually make up the majority of the market. To ensure survival, dealerships and the rest of the industry need to make themselves as Millennial-friendly as possible.
One way to attract more young customers is to upgrade and tailor business-oriented conversations.
98% of 18-29 year olds own a cellphone and 97% of that age group text. Younger Americans increasingly prefer texting to calls: if you want to gain ground with the next generation, take those preferences into account.
Communicating with customers over text messages can sound exciting but complicated. How exactly do you implement it?
Using a manager’s personal number isn’t a good idea – that number will get flooded with messages (including spam), and only one person can respond. You need a solution that ensures privacy and reliability.
OwnerListens can facilitate scalable instant messaging for your dealership.
We take care of the routing and backend so that messages go to the right employees/managers: sales questions to all salespeople, maintenance questions to the service department, etc. We also establish a dedicated SMS number (or can use the business’s existing landline number) so neither the customer nor the responder’s personal contact information is revealed. With one number, customers’ messages can go to multiple employees on their own personal devices – the first one to respond gets the sale!
Texting with salespeople is much more appealing to customers, especially Millennials, than being hovered over. In-person interactions, as well as phone conversations, can be uncomfortable and customers can feel pressured if the salesperson isn’t careful. If customers could text a salesperson when they have questions, however, exchanges would be much more comfortable, and they could even be conducted remotely:
Customer: I drove by this morning and saw there’s a deal on the Fusion lease. Can I get more info?
Salesperson: Sure. It’s under $200 a month for a 36 month lease. $2500 down, subject to credit check.
Customer: Can I come by after 6pm to test drive?
Salesperson: Absolutely! I’ll have the keys ready at the sales desk. What’s your name?
With instant messages, customers don’t have to be in the dealership to ask questions, and they don’t have to waste time getting through a phone tree to a salesperson. Hovering salespeople can scare customers off, but SMS communication can bring them in by giving them space to shop different models at their leisure. A detailed website, with convenient communication possibilities can considerably cut down the time a customer is forced to browse a showroom.
OwnerListens can help your dealership with more than just texting.
- Get solid data. On your dashboard, you can see all of your business’s messages. You’ll notice demand patterns for specific models, features, and colors, and you’ll also be able to see if any of your employees aren’t complying with company policies and standards.
- Streamline your service department. Let your customers text you to schedule appointments, and you can send them a message when their vehicles are ready.
- Stay in touch. With an open instant message conversation, you can keep in touch with customers who are comparison shopping with other dealers or thinking about making a purchase, which sets you up for better opportunities for conversion.
Instant messaging is an easy way to keep your dealership modern and relevant – not to mention it’s inexpensive and efficient.
The OwnerListens platform is effective and gives you the tools you need to simplify your customer service operations while embracing the move toward technology. Of course, though it’s a great way to make yourself more appealing to Millennials, using instant messaging lets you connect with all of your customers, no matter their generation, since nearly everyone texts.
Keep up with today’s digital natives and either claim a virtual number for your dealership or text enable your existing number through OwnerListens today!