In many dealerships, when a salesperson realizes that they are going to have to factory-order a customer’s request for a new vehicle, the salesperson often treats this scenario with either defeat, a lack of interest and enthusiasm or a glib response; “You know that you’re going to have to factory-order that don’t you?”. Salespeople often feel that the chances of closing this sale are slimmer and many are deflated at the thought of waiting 3 – 6 months for a commission cheque. Other salespeople are legitimately concerned about selling factory-orders and then having to later inform their customers that their vehicle is going to be delayed by weeks or even months.
Although factory-orders have always been an “as necessary” part of our business, they have now become a mainstream method of purchasing and selling new vehicles as a result of current inventory shortages. In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, dealerships hosted new vehicle galas in their showrooms when the new model-year vehicles arrived. The town’s “establishment” would attend these Champagne, black-tie events, and be the first (privileged) to view the all new 1965 Buicks. That same evening or in the days following, the gala guests would factory-order their new Buicks. The “chic” factory-ordered, while the common-man bought a new vehicle from stock. Why don’t we (once again) make factory-orders “chic”, trendy, cool, dope, off-the-hook or, at the very least, an experience?
The following are some elements to consider as part of your Factory-Order Sales Process.
This step of your Showroom Sales Process would remain unchanged as the salesperson would not yet have identified the need to factory-order a new vehicle.
Trade-In Appraisals should always be completed at the beginning of your Showroom Sales Process (call me and I will offer numerous reasons why).
However, once a salesperson identifies the need to factory-order, this becomes even more imperative. By facilitating the trade-in appraisal early, the dealership is “buying time” with the customer; giving the salesperson needed time and opportunity to build rapport and a relationship. Furthermore, a FREE, NO OBLIGATION Certified Trade-In Appraisal begins to create a sense of customer obligation to the dealership.
Establishing the customer’s needs and wants becomes even more critical with a factory-order. This should be done sitting down with a customer. Consider establishing several neutral seating areas in your dealership to allow salespeople to make this step somewhat more casual and less confining (think Starbucks). Also consider introducing (or re-introducing) a Guest Welcome sheet (paper or tablet) to ensure that salespeople are thorough in their needs analysis. Special Note: The more detailed and complete a Guest Welcome Sheet, the higher the gross profit/transaction (proof). If you would like a number of Guest Welcome sheet templates, contact me.
WHY ORDER FROM US:
Because we have no vehicle to show and demonstrate, identify and create a list of 6 – 10 reasons why a customer would choose your dealership versus your direct (same franchise) competitor (e.g.: Service Department pick-up and drop-off, loaner vehicles, car wash, Service Department Loyalty program, etc.). Have this list laminated (or tablet) and review it with every customer.
SALES MANAGER EARLY INTRODUCTION:
Sales Managers should always introduce themselves within the first 10 minutes of a customer’s arrival at your dealership. Today’s Sales Managers are smarter and more personable than ever. Having the boss meet customers is even that much more important with a factory-order. The dealership needs to create such a positive and overwhelming “red carpet” impression on the customer that they would be wanting and willing to trust the dealership in placing an order. We need to show extreme focus, interest and love.
FINANCE/LEASE PRE-APPROVAL SERVICE:
Your dealership currently allows your customers to begin the credit approval process online or at the end of the sale with your Financial Services Manager. Why not also offer a Finance/Lease Pre-Approval Service early in the sale at the conclusion of the salesperson’s Discovery session. This further obligates the customer in a positive manner. More importantly, it is not just credit-challenged customers that are concerned about their chances of getting approved for a new vehicle loan. A growing number of “established”, educated professionals, home owners with good credit are increasingly more anxious about the credit-decisioning process. Furthermore, when we are able to share the “good news” with a customer that they are APPROVED even before they buy their vehicle, our chances of closing the sale increase substantially.
VIRTUAL VEHICLE PRESENTATION
At a recent training session, we had salespeople presenting new vehicles to customers utilizing the BUILD and PRICE tool on their manufacturer’s website.
They were able to construct and facilitate an entire 6-Point Walk-Around Vehicle Presentation on a computer monitor using their cursor and the 360° viewing tool. The result was innovative, fun and effective. Just because we don’t have a vehicle “on-ground” are we going to let that stop us from delivering a creative and informative vehicle presentation?
If there is no vehicle to present and demonstrate to a customer, build value in the dealership facility. Salespeople should take their customer on a choreographed dealership tour. This would include a walk-through and pointing out services and conveniences such as the customer lounge, coffee bar and Wifi, Service Department Drive-Thru, Accessories Department, etc. Service Managers and Service Advisors should also be apprised and introduced to these potential customers. Make your dealership “homey”, inviting and exciting.
Payment Options should be provided to ALL customers, whether they are ready to buy a new vehicle “today” or not. There are thousands of scenarios where customers have emphatically proclaimed that they are “not ready to buy”, and then they do. Dealerships that continue to delay, withhold or not provide detailed pricing, trade-in values and multiple payment options lose customers. As customers visit fewer and fewer dealerships, the notion of giving customers a “hunting license” is becoming an ideology and excuse of the past. Presenting multiple payment options becomes a more natural way to close the sale; instead of old school questions such as, “What would you like to offer?”, the question becomes, “Which payment option would work best for your lifestyle?”. Closing the sale by providing payment options also shifts the focus away from price (since we are currently not discounting) and squarely on monthly/bi-weekly payments.
If you want salespeople to be more enthusiastic about factory-orders, than hand over the responsibility of customer communication updates to either a Sales Manager or a Sales Administrator. Salespeople are extremely anxious when they have to call their factory-order customers to deliver bad news of vehicle delivery delays from the manufacturer. There have been numerous situations all across Canada where salespeople have not returned customer phone calls/texts/e-mails inquiring about the delivery status of their factory-order. The salespeople are simply fearful of customer frustration, anger or disappointment and will often avoid the confrontations (unknown to the Sales Manager). Frustrated customers have walked away from deposits and purchased elsewhere, only to start the process all over.
We have all faced and overcome so many challenges over the past year and a half. Instead of listening to what are becoming tired, repetitive comments and complaints about inventory, let’s use this use factory-orders as another new and positive tool to adapt and succeed. Build your Factory-Order Sales Process and make factory-orders the new “cool”.
Chris Schulthies is the president of Toronto-based Wye Management. Wye Management provides sales and management training (showroom and digital) for dealerships, dealer groups, OEMs and industry suppliers in Canada and the U.S.