BY KENSEY EDWARDS
So here’s the situation. You have a unit for sale, and the guy down the street has something similar. Your unit costs a little bit more - whether that’s $100 or $1000 - and you’re unwilling to lower the price. Could you, convincingly, tell a buyer why they should spend that extra money with you? Have you thought about what you would say if you were asked? If not, you should. It’s an important question and one that you need to have an answer for because the reality is, even though buyers are price-conscious - if you’re providing the right kind of customer experience, they might be willing to spend more to do business with you.
Okay, okay. I understand that this seems basic. Provide a good customer experience - no kidding. But you’d be amazed at how many dealerships aren’t. We’ve heard stories about poor experiences between dealers and potential buyers that you wouldn’t believe - and you can only imagine what the does for the actual buyer considering spending thousands of dollars.
So what should you be doing?
- Define your value story
I’m sure you have some idea of what your value story either is or should be - and you could clearly articulate it if you were asked. But your value story should be more than that. It should be firmed up, not something you quickly develop on the spot when asked. You need to take the time to really write it down, play with the verbiage, and define it - not only for your customers, but for your staff. This statement should be as ingrained in your business as your dealership’s name - and you should be sharing it early and often. Maybe put it on your website, social media, and sales materials - answering the question of why you’re worth more before the buyer has to ask.
- Regularly train and monitor your employees
A big part of ingraining your value story in your business is making sure that it’s something your employees buy into. You want them clear on the messaging and why it’s important that they share it consistently with customers. But here’s the thing, you don’t want the customer to be hearing different value stories depending on who they talk to - you want the message to be the same across the board, so it’s important to train your staff on how to have the value story conversation. They should feel proud to share this message - after all, it should be what helps them sell more bikes. But they are only going to understand exactly how important this message is if you put the time and effort into making it an important part of your business.
- But, prepare for all types of buyers
And here’s the flip side of consistent messaging - while you want the core of the message to be the same - you also want your employees to feel comfortable enough with your value story that they can easily tailor it to the various buyers you see on your lot every day. The motorcycle industry, in particular, has many different buyer personas within it - from new riders, to long-time cruisers, to motocross junkies - each group has their own priorities and it’s important to tailor that value message to each group’s needs, while staying true to who you are as a business. This also goes back to the training piece. You want to make sure your staff practices having this conversation with different buyer types - thinking through exactly how they will tweak your value story to meet the needs of a particular audience. But, in order to do that successfully, the need to be fully comfortable with the core message first.
- Provide excellent customer service from the get-go
Aside from your value story, the actual experience you provide the customer - from the time they initially contact you through to when they sign on the dotted line - is the most important thing you can do to differentiate yourself from the guy down the street. And, while it may not be something you struggle with at your dealership - you’d be surprised to find out how many dealerships do. We’ve heard calls where the sales representative comes across as annoyed in their initial phone calls with the customer - it sounds like the buyer is inconveniencing them by calling - which isn’t the experience any dealership would want. So, are you really taking time to listen to the sales calls your reps are having? How they respond to a lead? How quickly they get back to a prospect? These may seem like small things, but they make a big difference when it comes to winning buyer loyalty. Even if you think this is an area where your dealership excels, take some time to go back and be sure.
Here’s the thing - you probably already have a good idea of why your dealership is better than your competition. The real task at hand is making sure that you are communicating it to the buyer throughout their experience with your shop. It takes some work - training for your staff and careful monitoring - but it will be worth it because buyers will notice and choose to do business with you.
Kensey Edwards is the content manager for Cycle Trader, an online marketplace connecting powersports buyers to sellers. In her role, Edwards focuses on consumer research and trends in the ever-changing digital landscape — and translates those insights into content and education to help dealers compete in the broader powersports industry.