18 May

Increased Consumer Confidence Decreases Time to Revenue

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Increased Consumer Confidence Decreases Time to Revenue

A Blog Post by Tung Nguyen, VP of Client Experience at Recall Masters


This year marks 24 years since I first walked into a dealership for a job.  Back in those days, it was pretty simple to sell a vehicle or upsell service. I saw it every day – thinking if my colleagues could do it, I could too. From greeting customers to asking questions, it felt natural to find common ground meeting a customer’s needs. A few years later, 9/11 happened and our industry was turned upside down. It wasn’t long before we extended employee pricing and 0% financing for consumers, which started the incentive-dependent mindset for consumers.  Out of the pure need to generate leads and traffic, a second wave of dealer innovation came in the form of the digital world and using websites as an “online showroom” to purchase leads and engage in pay-per-click strategies.  We never looked back.

Without a doubt, technology helped many of us during an uncertain time.  These innovations compelled us to understand how to generate our own organic leads. Capturing data was the last thing we worried about.  Some even changed retail delivery report (RDR) info so that a bad survey would not be reported.  I think many of you know what I am talking about. We barely started to take stride when, all of a sudden, the 2008 financial crisis hit us like a ton of bricks.   It felt like everything you worked for was taken away at a blink of an eye. We all remember how that felt and how quickly any cash reserves were depleted. Why is this important to revisit during this time? Because the automotive industry is resilient and has recovered through whatever we were challenged with in the last 20 years. Most of us learned, adapted and implemented new strategies to strategically communicate to our consumers. At the heart of every effective tactic has been effective communication and improving your position through trial and error. Look at how our industry has successfully rebounded after every purported GREAT RECESSION! The last four years were record-breaking numbers, hovering over 17 million units sold.  We should be proud of our accomplishments and lean forward in our resilience.

As we start to emerge from shelter-in-place mandates around the country, I keep hearing how we need to get back to a “normal” state.  I got news for you – there is no such thing anymore.  Consumer confidence is at an all-time low with people worrying about getting infected and social distancing measures. A few weeks ago, I was at a local new car franchise dropping off my wife’s vehicle for service. The service department had three advisors (down from 12). They practiced social distancing and everyone was wearing a mask as they communicated. This put me at ease knowing they are doing their part to create confidence in the consumer experience. The whole process of dropping off the vehicle was contactless, communicating via text until the vehicle was ready. When I retrieved the vehicle, the service director came out to greet me and made sure I was completely satisfied with the whole process, ensuring my perfect rating on the OEM survey. I even went as far as to promote them on multiple reputation sites like Google+, DealerRater and Yelp. Does this mean I will be back for the next service? Absolutely! I urge everyone to start “owning it” and make the necessary changes to increase consumer confidence. If not, your consumers might defect to a competitor they are confident in doing business with.  Combined, exceptional customer service and innovation will carry us forth from this latest setback.

What can we look to as the next innovation, you ask?  Digital retailing has had some success, but may fall flat once consumers discover that their job is no longer waiting for them or that the Treasury Department won’t be issuing checks monthly.  We need to invest on a market opportunity that has been sitting right under your nose for at least a decade, largely ignored – recalls.  Ask yourself how safety recalls affect your dealership and what role they have in this new era of service? Open recalls don’t go away until the remedy is applied. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed with the utmost knowledge and care. Communicating to a consumer about a recall is a valid reason for outreach in today’s climate (as long as you adhere to TCPA guidelines).  At a time when consumers are ambivalent to spend, expect customer pay (CP) revenue to fall and service declines to skyrocket.  With a comprehensive recall solution that helps you identify, communicate and follow up until the vehicle is repaired, the doors open for consumers who might not even considering servicing with you at this time.

With a caring and trusted customer interaction, recalls also give your dealership the opportunity for CP work or potentially converting into a newer vehicle. Be sure to quickly explain the issue and provide a solution to the consumer.  You are their trusted advisor – be mindful and respectful of your standing. Do you provide consumers a way to check if they have a recall and schedule an appointment on their own? Every dealer should host a dedicated recall webpage for this reason – one that allows consumers to easily check for recalls. Don’t give away your hard-earned internet traffic to the factory recall page, where they may just refer them to a competing store.  Secondly, input consumer contact information to be “automatically” notified should any new recalls be announced in the future. This also acts as a legal “opt in” and contributes to valuable customer touchpoints. Lastly, book the appointment. Capturing this type of information is crucial, as data quality increases when updated properly.

Some consumers need to be reminded about their recall again and again.  In a recent survey, 81% of all consumers in the study intended to repair the recall within 6 months.  But, don’t we know it – you get busy and then you just forget about it.   It took me 2.5 years to replace the Takata airbag in one of my vehicles. And the only reason I took care of it was because my son wanted to sit in the front seat. I have been receiving notices about this recall for a while and if anything happened to him, I would not be able to live with myself for procrastinating as long as I did. Recall communications require multiple impressions, reminding vehicle owners of a dangerous issue and that your dealership is available to help. Make it easy for the consumer to book the appointment. Think about why pick-up, delivery and mobile service is starting to take off? This changes the client experience and provides a better way of doing business during a time like this.  Build consumer confidence and realize the revenue.

Make the necessary changes to not only survive this giant setback, but to place your business on a trajectory to win in a more competitive market.  Sure, we might be on the other side of this dark valley, but we’re just getting started.


About the Author:

Tung Nguyen is the Vice President of Client Experience at Recall Masters, the leading provider of automotive recall solutions.  The company uses data, technology and communications to connect dealerships and manufacturers with owners of affected vehicles. The company is dedicated to helping automakers and their dealers expedite the repair of recalled vehicles, making the roadways safer for everyone. Greater recall awareness and proactive recall management helps automakers protect their brand and build trusting relationships between automotive dealers, rental car agencies, auto auctions, auto industry affiliates and consumers alike. Recall Masters is a privately-held company based in Laguna Hills, CA.  Nguyen can be reached by email at tung@recallmasters.com or at 949.229.5266.  For more information about Recall Masters, please call 888.651.4480, email info@recallmasters.com or visit www.recallmasters.com .

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