Professional Community for Automotive Marketers, Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
I can give you a very easy way to sort yourself inside the national dealer body between those who “get” the modern customer and those who do not: If you think staying open until 9pm six or seven days a week makes you sales, you do NOT get it.
Texas Direct Auto, # 1 Used Car dealer in the USA, makes $500million in sales a year 9am-6pm six days a week (they made their first $100million closing at noon on Saturday after doing deliveries only that day!). That’s a particular market, you say? And that would never work at a franchise dealer? And you’re going to stop reading one more stupid article (this one!) about how the Holy Law of Super Open Hours of Automotive Retail is wrong? Are you irritated?
Keep reading. If that’s how you feel, I haven’t even begun to piss the dinosaurs off. Exemptions given for particular markets in the USA where this doesn’t work (not that many) and particular customer targeting such as special finance.
Anyway, reach for your blood pressure medicine and let’s move on. Here’s your two choices for serving the modern vehicle shopper:
Bullsh*t, you say? Bullsh*t back, I say.
The supposed “convenience” of Super Open Hours creates a HUGE and WELL-KNOWN (decades!) level of frustrating INconvenience in the shopper’s experience. They arrive the least-committed because they got “around to” shopping at a dealer, and they are the most demanding because they had no expectations except of the stereotype hassle (which they are now experiencing). What do we teach our salespeople to get the sale? Set expectations of the process and GET COMMITMENT. Except we didn’t get either one from the Option B shoppers!!
The days of Mom and Dad loading the kids into the car and shopping for cars on “Dealership Row” are long gone for customers—now, 85% of them do THAT shopping on the Internet. Which is open 365(6)x24x7, by the way, so it serves your Super Open Hours needs and then some. THAT is customer convenience today. And where you had better be spending your advertising money and efforts, by the way (that’s another blog).
We have to let go of Option B. Lots of high-end stores like BMW, etc. already keep these fewer COMMITMENT hours. In fact, parts of the country naturally have these already even in domestics.
I realize that the great body of dealers will not be moved by these words or by the statistics of the marketplace. Conveniently INconvenient is the Holy Law. So, I am the tail trying to wag the dog, or more like the bug on the butt of the big dinosaur—if it happens to go in the direction I want, that won’t have anything to do with how hard I push. However, one day (soon) the dinosaur’s days will be over. And I know that makes some of you angry that I say that, because you feel (rightly) that I’m talking about you. And that I’m wrong.
Well, you read this far, so look around your lot this week during those late hours you're keeping: The real dinosaurs are no longer here--but at every summer night, you see the bugs high around the lights.
THEY are still here.