How Agency is Impacting Dealer Marketing

Published: November 2023

Will the Agency model make sales more challenging?

Our Chief Executive, Jeremy Evans, Commercial Director, Charlotte Murray, and long-term client Keith Jackman, Head of Marketing & CRM at Sandown, recently presented a digital session at Automotive Management Live, titled: How Agency is Impacting Dealer Marketing.

The format of this session was designed to highlight assumptions – be they right or wrong – around the Agency model and understand what the data shows, the reality from an Agent’s perspective, and the learnings that we have found.

Assumption: No price differences or discounts means Agents have less of a competitive offering

Here, the data really speaks for itself…

  • 64% of consumers surveyed stated they would conduct most of their research online, only visiting a showroom once they are ready to buy*

  • 93% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase^

  • 50% of consumers say a quick response influences their purchasing decision^

  • 98% of new Mercedes-Benz customers in 2023 live within 20 mins of the dealership vs 76% in 2022

Reality: Agents can focus on delivering an outstanding customer experience to drive reputation and secure long-term retention

We’ve said it before, and it’s still the case now. An ‘always on’ approach to digital advertising is essential to reach prospects during the research phase, which is typically conducted online.

We know that the time between an initial enquiry and an order being placed is just 5 days (down from 16 pre-pandemic), meaning the speed and quality of a response is key – which is where automation kicks in.

Furthermore, Agents should be encouraging and collecting positive reviews via CSI surveys within the CRM process to share across their Social Media and within their post-enquiry messages.

By being timely, accurate and personalised, Agents can stand out from the crowd by their reputation for delighting customers. Our marketing automation platform, VoiceBox, helps retailers do just that.

Assumption: Less new cars sold means there are fewer good quality used cars coming in as part exchange

So, if fewer new cars are being sold, where does the supply of good quality used cars come from, and how do retailers bolster used car profits?

Reality: Agents can utilise additional marketing channels to exploit potentially untapped stock sources

Our analysis shows that during July – Sept 2023, 55% of services due were on vehicles not originally sold by the Sandown Group. Therefore, there is an opportunity to utilise aftersales as a source for used cars – such as offering valuations and new vehicle test drives during appointments.

What’s more, the Agency model does not cover used cars, so retailers still have the freedom to sell used stock under non-franchise approved brands.

There is also a marketing opportunity here, for example, ‘We Want Your Car’ messages are proven to drive quality enquiries – a recent SMS campaign that we ran on behalf of a client saw 10% of customers targeted sell their car back to the retailer.

Online valuation links can be included in CRM emails, and available stock campaigns – such as our Stock Alerts solution – can be triggered to convert aftersales customers to a buying mindset pre- and post-appointment.

Assumption: Less new cars sold means there are less customers on the database to retain for service and repair

Although this assumption is accurate, that doesn’t mean the workshops will be empty…

Reality: Agents can focus on longer-term retention and more profitable work

With workshops no longer full of Segment 1, there is capacity for older vehicles, which are typically more profitable, with more MOT, VHC and upsell opportunities – even at a discounted labour rate. In fact, in H1 2023, we saw a 23% increase in retention from older segments with vehicles 5+.

Furthermore, Safety Recalls are now being included as an MOT requirement and can only be done by manufacturer-authorised repairers, so there’s a huge opportunity to re-activate customers who have switched to independent garages.

In a recent project we ran with Sandown, we achieved +20% lapsed reactivation from a Safety Recall campaign, which resulted in over 1,000 additional bookings with an average invoice value of over £300 – read all about it here.

Data accuracy will enable Agents to maximise their marketing efforts and increase retention of older vehicles. Workshops can introduce value maintenance packages, for example, as well as extended warranty and service plans and additional touchpoints with creative approaches to communicate with customers.

Now is the time to think differently and embrace previously untapped opportunities. Delight your customers by focusing on delivering an outstanding customer experience to drive reputation and secure long-term retention. Find alternative stock sources and encourage retention in older vehicles for more profitable work.

For more information on everything we’ve covered above, please contact us today.

*Marketing Delivery Consumer Survey conducted by OnePoll; 1,000 respondents across the UK, all current motorists

^Trustpilot – ‘Digitising Commerce’ expo by IRX, co-located with DTX Europe and UCX Europe – October 2023

**World EV Day Whitepaper 2022 – Interview with 2,197 adults aged 17-75

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