New and emerging national car dealers masquerading as non-dealers are wrangling customers away from many dealerships. And while they may have the unfair advantage of market share growth without profit, this doesn't let local and regional dealers off the hook from the necessity of profit.
“Everyone wants to fight perception,” Dykstra said. ”We have to win that battle, or we’re not going to be here 20 years from now.”
The key however is not price, but relationships with customers, Dykstra told VAN co-owner Tom Gregg in a recent VAN University webinar. “We’re all in sales one way or another. We’re selling ideas….Whether it’s ...what restaurant to go to or what movie to go see …”
It’s not all about money
Buying cars from private sellers is not easy business. If it were, more dealers would do it. So what makes it all worth it, we asked Benjamin during the webinar.
"Whether a customer buys a car for $2,000... or $2000,000 car, the vehicle is a major and meaningful purchase for that individual. Anyone who embarks on that journey deserves “the right to personalized, professional and individual attention from a great salesperson.”
As a local dealership, you are vested in your community. Dykstra says, “I think dealerships at their best are the best thing ever for customers.
“When I see the encroachment of online-only digital retailers, I don’t want to wake up in a world 20 years from now where my only option...to buy a car is to go to a website, make a decision based on pictures, video and descriptions, click the button and...wait a week when the car’s dropped off. If there’s any problem, I have to send it back. Beyond the money.”
What makes it all worth it?
Gregg said, “VAN is helping dealers protect against these companies, so it’s very much worth (the efforts) to guard your territory. It’s about engaging and connecting with people in your own backyard, to be able to communicate to them that you are an option, that you will buy their vehicle”--without them having to buy one from you.
Your dealership…”the biggest small business in town”
Various businesses are constantly trying to leverage their relationships through new, unique marketing methods to capture customers’ attention and business.
“Dealerships are the biggest small business in town. We support the soccer clubs and the chess clubs and the science programs. The core of it is the relationship between the community and the dealerships that exist in that community.”
And buyers will always have at their disposal a range of choices when it comes to where to make that purchase, Dykstra said. “Somebody’s going to buy the cars.” The question is, from what source?