The new car market may be taking the headlines, but it was the used market that was the focus of attention on Tuesday 21st October. The annual AM Used Car Market Conference brings together expert speakers and numerous businesses with a vested interest in the used car sector to hear about the trends and opportunities that lie ahead. This year, GForces attended purely in an exhibiting capacity, but we made sure that we watched and listened to each speaker to ensure we weren’t missing out.
One of the major talking points of the day was staff training. Mike Dalloz, Managing Director of Performance in People, spoke about how every business needs to ascertain its expected standards in its field; the commerciality of these and – ultimately – how well these will convert to sales. However, he warned that most businesses have, “Pockets of excellence, but acres of mediocrity and even the odd pit of despair”. Chiming with our own training, Mike explained that too much process only enables measurement of what dealership staff do – not how they do it, which isn’t conducive to good behaviours.
Heather Yaxley, Director of the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA), concurred, but went further in explaining how ‘Generation C’ – the current connected generation that is now buying cars – requires a whole new approach. Used car dealers need to operate in the same space that Generation C operates in, using the latest technology and understanding how important quality, personable contact is. The connected generation expects a personalised buying experience, and this must include interaction on social and wider digital media.
Backing up these two points, Ray Harkin, Operations Director at training company, Martec Europe, spoke about how businesses must train their staff in understanding that every consumer needs to be treated as an individual. Pressuring consumers to make an appointment; not interacting on their terms; working to a script rather than in reaction to a customer – these are the things that the industry must move away from.
Digital was also high on the agenda with a lot of talk about digital forecourts and how best to manage them. Nick King, Market Research Director at Auto Trader, revealed some interesting statistics about buyer behaviour – and why it matters to get a digital forecourt right. For example:
- Physical forecourt visits are down 41% over the past few years
- 56% of used car buyers didn’t contact the dealer for any specific vehicle information before turning up because they’d already researched online
- 23% of used car buyers look at over ten websites when researching
- 69% of used car buyers would spend more money with a dealer that responded within four hours
Adding impetus to the points raised by Nick was Ian Goodbold, Marketing and CRM Director at Cambria Automobiles. He spoke about the importance of using analytics to inform how dealer websites are laid out and populated. Just like the research we undertook when creating NetDirector Auto V10, Ian implored dealers to use hard data to design their websites rather than gut feeling or pretty pages.
In addition to design, Ian touched on how important it is to be able to attribute leads to marketing and also see an individual user’s interactions on a website. With tools like NetDirector LeadBeast already available, there is a big opportunity to create truly informed marketing campaigns and continually optimised web pages.
The quote of the day – in our humble opinion – goes to Google during Industry Manager, Scott Sinclair’s speech. When Google went about building a driverless car, Google realised that, “Bolting stuff onto things that already exist wasn’t enough” – that is to say, they needed to innovate brand new products themselves. It’s a quote that resonates with us at GForces as it’s a philosophy that we live by.
The AM Used Car Market Conference was a great day – and we must extend our thanks to the organisers, the highly-engaging speakers and everyone who came over and visited the stand. As the onus switches to increasing dealership profitability, used cars will come to the fore. We’re looking forward to big things in the used sector over the coming months and the AM conference certainly dealt out some top advice for those wishing to make the most of their used car operations.