[Posted on 22 July 2013 by Car Research]
Automotive CRM is a relatively new concept for auto dealerships. For decades, car dealers have relied on national advertising by the auto manufacturers supported by local marketing efforts. The new demands of consumers make customer relationship marketing an essential element of effective marketing strategies.
It is a statistic quoted in the industry that 90 percent of individuals who visit dealers and leave receive no additional contact. That number supports the need for effective CRM. Additional research has shown that up to 33 percent of those who first visit a dealership will return with some form of personal follow-up. These numbers provide part of the motivation for many dealerships now turning to CRM as a central part of their marketing efforts.
The Essential Elements
A properly designed and implemented CRM system will allow a dealership to track and monitor its interactions with prospects and customers. It also provides employees with the tools to readily access a detailed record of how a customer has been involved with the dealership. This includes sales and service experiences, any open activities and ongoing contacts. A fully integrated approach allows the firm to fully evaluate the value of an individual customer. It also provides tools for managing contact with prospects and customers.
According to an article entitled Strategies for Successful CRM Implementation,” in Information Management & Computer Security, the authors state that when properly used, CRM “could enhance a company’s ability to achieve the ultimate goal of retaining customers and gain strategic advantage over its competitors.” That is a very strong endorsement for adoption of automotive CRM as part of the overall dealer management software utilized.
With the growing use and importance of such systems, it is important to understand the essential components that make the system effective. A partial listing of the features to look for includes:
• Individual prospect/customer management, including customer follow-up calls
• Total lead management, including Internet lead management
• Integrated call management
• Management of multi-channel communications, including mail, calls, email, texting and social media
• Showroom management capabilities
• Notification system for customer license plates
• Decoding of VIN numbers
• Robust reporting capabilities, both standard and customized
A detailed list of additional capabilities will show that the better CRM solutions provide an interface with all departments and profit centers of a dealership. Multi-dealer groups will also find enterprise-level packages that offer additional capabilities. As the market for these products grows, the offered software packages for automotive CRM are increasingly sophisticated.
The challenge for most dealerships is to fully integrate the capabilities of a CRM solution into their entire team and daily operational processes.
Maximizing Marketing Efforts
Traditionally, auto manufacturers view their primary customers as the auto dealers. National advertising efforts have served to keep those dealers happy with general product awareness efforts. As auto dealers take the initiative to exert more control over their total marketing strategy, there is a new focus on the leads and actual activity that these advertising efforts generate.
Both manufacturers and dealerships working together is a process that makes automotive CRM an increasingly important and powerful tool within the automotive industry.