A strange thing happened in LA this morning. It rained.
I normally ride a motor scooter to work, but the weather had me wondering. Maybe I should get a small fuel-efficient car. As you may already know, I’m the Internet/Fleet Manager for a Los Angeles Honda dealer. You’re probably are also aware of Honda’s recent inventory issues. I immediately ruled Honda out of my possibilities – only because the car I wanted wasn’t in stock. Not only that, if one did arrive, I knew my GSM wouldn’t let me pry one of his gold bars away from him. The dealership, after all, has become Fort Knox. It’ll probably stay that way for the rest of the summer.
I’m not sure how it happened – maybe because I’ve been a Fiat 500 Facebook fan for almost two years, since I saw a video comparing it favorably to the Mini Cooper – but I started researching a Fiat 500.
So there I was, some long lost fan who never really paid attention to Fiat 500’s Facebook updates. Someone who, in the right situation, with the right cup of coffee, on the right morning, visited fiatusa.com and began to build one. I was immediately impressed with the simplicity of the site – yet through this simplicity, I noticed several useful customization options I hadn’t expected. In those options, among the bike racks and the ambient lighting, something stuck out to me. For just a few hundred dollars, I could get Wi-Fi for my Fiat. Right away, I clicked this option.
Clicking on the Wi-Fi option somehow encouraged more clicking, and by the end I’d clicked enough clicks to add racing stripes, a bike rack, and a spare tire (none of which I’d have originally selected). I wanted that car. It was all mine, totally my style – but I wasn’t finished. All that customization seemed to inspire me to make the car even more unique. With a sudden clear vision, I searched for iPad docking stations. Not only could anyone in or around my car get online with a Wi-Fi device, but I could skip a navi system by multi-purposing my iPad. I always have it with me, so why not dock it? I could use Google Maps, check email, passengers could watch Netflix, and best of all, I could take FaceTime calls on the road.
This got me thinking. Why doesn’t my own dealership offer a Wi-Fi router as an option in their cars? After a little research, I found that any manufacturer (or dealer, for that matter) could use devices like the one Fiat offers.
My customizing experience took me from a casually interested shopper to a deeply attached one. (And, from a dealer’s perspective, a deeply attached and emotional shopper usually brings in more gross.) But what if my experience hadn’t been that unique?
I considered our website and most every other dealer site I’ve seen. They all seem to cater exclusively to the price shopper (i.e., the one you probably won’t make any money on).
Basically, my site (and probably yours) is a canned site. When we got it, we didn’t make many changes to it. Maybe we’d occasionally change the design template, update meta data, or create an employee page. But for the most part, we present in-stock vehicles the way every canned site does. Each listing shows a picture or a video thumbnail with a basic list of details: VIN, engine, MSRP, features, and options, plus a couple of buttons to get a quote or even make an offer.
What if the Fiat 500 page didn’t let me build the car? What if it offered a tool like many other manufacturers do? I’d search by model, and the tool would spit out a few options that most people skip, like mudguards and ashtrays. I’d see a list of local dealers, with a “Get a Quote” button next to each one. (Fiat’s site doesn’t do this. Maybe that’s another story for another day.)
I’m not saying you should overhaul your site to mimic Fiat’s, but perhaps we can learn from Fiat’s shopping experience. Maybe we can find our own ways to turn the casual price shopper into a highly charged and emotional shopper.
This experience inspired me to start a list – strategies you can implement to raise your sales and profit. Want to find out what five sales opportunities you’re probably missing?
Stay tuned for part 2.