When virtually everything is available online, how can a retailer or a dealer like you continue to do business locally? Well, you have to change with the times – or risk being left behind. We are now seeing dealers across the country not just surviving but thriving by providing the best customer experience possible.
Are you just offering shelves of products? In that case, today’s busy consumer will go somewhere more convenient. Instead, are you solving your customer’s problem? Nowadays, it is all about the best customer experience. After all, people hate to be sold to, but they love to buy.
Keep reading to see our 7 dealer-proven ways to keep their customers coming back again and again.
1. Create an Immersive Experience
The word “brand” used to be considered a noun – a logo or a set of colors for example. Today, “brand” is considered a verb – what a brand does is much more important than what a brand says. Consumers, especially millennials, are looking for an unforgettable experience, and they are willing to pay for it.
What does this mean for dealers? You could run a local training workshop on an interesting topic such as “Pruning Your Garden in the Fall” for garden lovers or something useful like “How to Prepare Your Boat for Winter” if you are a marine dealer.
If there are any local clubs that are relevant, such as a group that meets to discuss fishing, you could host that at your store, creating a “community” of like-minded people around your brand. Having a calendar of events on your wall or website that are relevant to your clientele can be a strong signal that you are “doing” the brand rather than just passively using words or colors.
2. Reward Your Regulars
Rewarding long-time customers is a strategy used by many dealers. This is largely done through relationships and having a great track record at solving their problems and proving quick service. How can you go above and beyond? Create a loyalty program by offering special discounts or provide a card that encourages repeat purchases like what you see at your local coffee shop or bakery.
Some dealers team up with other local businesses to offer discounts and have a monthly newsletter to keep people in the loop. This is easily done, and helps you gather contact information for your customers.
3. Provide Complimentary Services
Providing service on the products or equipment that you sell is a very logical way to make yourself different from online retailers. While you will always have a few customers who are mechanically-inclined, the majority of people have neither the time nor the interest in servicing their own equipment.
Service departments can also generate profits for your dealership, while creating the best customer experience. Brainstorm with your technicians to do workshops on maintenance and quick-fixes to engage your audience.
4. Have It All Under One Roof
Many dealers find having both a dealership and related products or hardware alongside to be a great benefit. Mike Traweek of Virginia’s Ashland Power Equipment understands the importance of having the two businesses side-by-side.
“I wouldn’t operate another power equipment dealership without having the hardware alongside,” he said. “The amount of foot traffic back and forth is amazing, and the customer count is substantial.”
No matter what you sell, having a complimentary business can create an easy, “one-stop-shop” experience for your customers.
5. Have the Right Product at the Right Time
Most dealers are seasonal businesses, so having equipment or parts available when the customer needs them most is really important. Maggie Less at Columbiana’s Middleton Ace-Hardware has in-stock parts for 21 lines and almost never fails to “find the part” for her customers.
“I monitor the selling trends and keep an eye on fast- or slow-moving inventory and adjust as needed,” she said. “Then we can keep our fill rate without having high levels inventory.”
6. Hire Great Employees
Having motivated and knowledgeable employees is the first step to creating a great customer experience. They are the public face of your business and are key to creating an atmosphere. People like to hang out where they are welcome, and many of us want that sense of belongingness. A calm, safe and down-to-earth environment are exactly what many people are looking for.
Find someone with the right combination of motivation and knowledge from the beginning, and monitor regularly.
According to Jerod Ames of Family Center Farm and Home, employees make all the difference. “I would say our employees would be the number one reason we are so successful,” he said. “Along with carrying the best products in the industry and servicing everything we sell, we provide a great atmosphere for the customer.”
7. Engage Your Team
Have you thought of employee engagement? According to a recent survey, companies with engaged workforces outperformed those with disengaged ones by 147%. One way to engage employees is to recognize performance. You can do this informally, or you can create a program such as having an “employee-of-the-month” initiative.
Interestingly, 69% of workers recently said that they would work harder if their efforts were appreciated. Training and developing your team is important in the dealer world. If someone is unhappy or uninformed, it will likely show quickly to customers. Instead, you want to create that positive and energetic environment that will keep people coming back again and again.
In today’s era of rapid change, some are saying that Amazon is “devouring” traditional retailers. But increasing focus on the best customer experience can help retailers and dealers like you survive, or even better, thrive. Change will happen no matter what – it is how you react to it that counts. To learn more about how dealers are succeeding, check out our dealer stories.