FlexDealer team members Sarah and Whit joined hundreds of dealers and vendors at 2022 Canada's Used Car Week in Toronto. Whit kicked off day one by leading an insightful workshop for dealers about how to maximize your Google My Business profile to attract more eyes and clicks, and both Sarah and Whit maximized their time at the event by attending as many workshops, panels, and networking events as they could squeeze into the three days.
In this post, we're sharing some key takeaways from the event, plus ways we hope to bring what we've learned to our clients moving forward.
If you want to sell more cars, think about who is in your immediate region and cater to their needs. Kim MacPherson from Sell It Smart Canada shared that her finance-first business model was born from the realization that many of her customers were sub-prime, and that she could sell more cars by creating a used car dealership that focuses on rebuilding credit in order to move inventory. She has continued to adapt her business with a primarily work-from-home employment model, again, catering to the demands of both her customers and her employees. The takeaway: identify the concerns of shoppers in your immediate area and find creative solutions to meet their needs.
The car-buyer market is changing quickly. Loyalty to car brands is decreasing, and North America's largest buying segment, Millennials and Gen Z, are more likely to pay extra for a vehicle if the dealership aligns with their values. So what are they looking for? Most common values include environmental and community stewardship, creating lasting connections, and working with people who understand their needs - an emerging new area interest for modern car shoppers is space and features for pet dogs! As buyers become less concerned about brand or model, a key to future success may be found in marketing your dealership and employees above all else.
EVs aren't going anywhere. Not only that, but with a relatively long lifespan, better value retention, and ease of maintenance, EVs will likely begin to saturate the used car market in the next decade. Are you prepared for this shift? Key barriers to a true EV takeover includes infrastructure woes and lack of skilled service technicians who can work on EVs. Besides that, the research is resoundingly strong that most Canadian drivers are ready to start supporting electric vehicle technology.
Invest in your people. As we said in another point, folks aren't buying cars for the model or features nearly as much as they used to. Sure, they might book an appointment because they're interested in that new Toyota Camry they saw on your site, but at the end of the day, customers are buying cars because of the connections they make with your people. Your team is invaluable, and training/supporting them is a 100% guaranteed way to sell more new and used cars.
Get busy creating a positive work culture. The time has come to get rid of toxic work culture (particularly in a traditionally male-dominated industry) and encourage important conversations at your dealership.
Put effort into bringing more women onto your teams and creating pay equality. The experience, level of customer care, and unique point of view that they bring to any industry is vitally important.
Representation matters. People want to buy from people who they can relate to. Not only that, but a diverse team will elevate your entire work culture, so consider the backgrounds of the people you hire.
Technology is here to help you. We don't even need to say "things are changing" anymore - they've already changed! So if you can't think about ways in which you've changed, then you've already fallen behind. One example we tested out were chatbots, which are becoming increasingly intelligent. Chatbots can be a great way to make sure your leads turn into booked appointments, even while you sleep. You can also leverage SMS platforms to ask for reviews or send appointment reminders, digital showroom tools, and so much more.
Your employees are looking for a more flexible work environment. Ditch the "sun up to sundown" mentality and consider how you can support your employees as they juggle a work-life balance. Fully resisting a shift to hybrid work models will only serve to work against you, and there are many benefits to adopting a work-from-home schedule for your business, customers, and bottom line. This was a hot topic at CUCW, and as a fully remote company ourselves, we have a lot of experience regarding how to successfully implement a hybrid work model. If you are looking for ideas, don't hesitate to book an appointment with one of our Flex team members!
So what was the overall consensus? Well, people are happy to be back together in person! Just about everyone we met commented on how fantastic it was to shake hands, hug, and share a conversation with like-minded friends and professionals again. There is a markedly different energy when you attend in-person events that breeds excitement and connections that simply can't be replicated on LinkedIn. We also felt very encouraged by the overall optimism that was a constant undercurrent during the 3-day event. We rarely talked about or focused on shortages and shortcomings - the industry is solution-focused and ready to adapt and grow together.
To chat more with Whit, Sarah, or anyone else on the FlexDealer team about the current state of new and used car sales, technology, employment, training, tools, or any other automotive topic that's on your mind, don't hesitate to drop us a message or give us a call!