The Washington DC metro area is home to over 6 million people and hundreds of miles of roadway. Due to the population density, this is a great market to sell vehicles in. However, before you can legally do so, you need to obtain a DC auto dealer bond and license, among many other required and recommended steps. Follow this advice from local experts to help improve and expand your business.
Train Your Team Extensively
Your staff is the public face of the dealership. How they interact with customers largely determines how those customers feel about your business. Since every interaction needs to be stellar, all members of staff should go through comprehensive training. They should learn to be probing but not pushy, to listen more than they talk, and to put customer needs first. Basically, they should learn customer service best practices in the context of an auto dealership. Don’t assume your staff knows what this looks like. Instead, train them to be consistently courteous.
Keep Compliant Consistently
Washington DC auto dealers are subject to numerous rules and regulations. The penalties for noncompliance range from hefty fines to a revoked license, creating a powerful incentive to stay on the right side of the law. The best way to do that is through careful administration. Track important deadlines like when you need to renew your DC auto dealer surety bond. A few hours of administration throughout the year can save your business a lot of wasted time, lost money, and bad PR later on.
Get Active Online
More than 85% of car buyers conduct online research before visiting a dealership, often involving hours of pouring through reviews and pictures. Today’s auto dealers should connect with consumers before they ever visit the dealership by facilitating their online research. Having a comprehensive website is obligatory. Ideally, it’s optimized to be a sales platform that helps car-buyers organically explore information while encouraging them to stay within the dealership’s ecosystem. In general, the bigger the online presence the better, which means getting active on social media and mobile as well.
Focus on Reputation Management
Loyal customers generate significant revenue for dealerships when they return for service and future vehicle purchases. Cultivating loyal customers isn’t easy, but in the automotive industry, it’s largely a matter of trust. People are intuitively suspicious of car sales, which is why they seek out and return to dealers who are fair and transparent. There are many ways to build a reputation for trustworthiness, including obtaining a DC motor vehicle surety bond that proves you will take financial responsibility in the event of any malfeasance. Rather than trying to build your reputation by making promises, provide proof that you treat people right.
Embrace 21st Century Technology
Today’s auto dealers need more than just charisma and confidence. Technologies for collecting data, integrating operations, automating processes, and coordinating teams make it much easier to manage the complexities of even a small auto dealership. Furthermore, today’s customers expect an auto-buying experience that is simple, seamless, and optimized end-to-end. That doesn’t mean removing the human element entirely, but it does mean enhancing the experience in and out of the dealership with innovative technologies.
Prepare for Uncertainty
Recent history has been volatile for the automotive industry. Major brands disappeared following the 2008 recession, and consumer preference for larger vehicles has killed the market for sedans. There is only so much individual dealerships can do to anticipate these changes, so they must do everything possible to absorb the uncertainty. That means saving money to reinvest in the business, building agility into the business plan, and constantly perfecting the customer experience. Auto dealers should also prepare for legislative uncertainty by always carrying a DC motor vehicle surety bond. Having one ensures that even if the laws change unexpectedly your customers are still protected.
Look for New Revenue Streams
Auto sales rose by 0.6% in 2018, but some experts think they could flatten out soon. Auto dealers realized a long time ago they couldn’t depend on auto sales alone to survive, which is why they expanded into maintenance, bodywork, financing, and other adjacent services. Dealerships should look for additional new revenue streams like opening a car wash or offering rental cars. Individually, those streams may not generate a ton of new revenue. Collectively, however, they help dealerships capture as much revenue as possible while positioning themselves as the “one-stop-shop” for customer’s automotive needs.
Keep Driving Forward With Viking Bond Service
As you focus on growing your business, don’t lose sight of the basics. For instance, you always need to have a DC auto dealer bond to keep your license. It’s one small part of your business, but without it, everything you’ve built is put in jeopardy. Rely on the team at Viking Bond Service to help you find a bond that is completely compliant with all DC-area laws. Fill out our online bond application at your convenience, or contact our team at 1-888-278-7389 for in-depth insights from auto bond experts.