Why one-man dealerships need a CRM as much as the big guys

Independent dealers are facing tougher competition than ever before. 

Franchise dealer pre-owned departments, national chains, and even ecommerce brands like Carvana are all competing for the same customers. If you don’t meet a customer’s needs, they will simply head to the next dealership that will.

One-man shows have an especially tough road ahead. Without the manpower of larger dealerships, critical jobs fall through the cracks: marketing, lead nurturing, sales, and even compliance. 

That’s why one-man shows need a CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) as much as any other dealer.

I know what you’re thinking: “We’re too small. We don’t need a CRM. Those are for the bigger guys.” 

Right? Wrong.

Every dealership—even one-man shows—need a CRM in this day and age. That’s because customers don’t care if you’re a one-man show or part of a national dealer group. They expect the best possible service, and if you can’t give it to them, someone else will.

CRM tools are like rocket fuel for your business. They allow you to organize and automate so that you can compete with the big guys. 

And no, CRMs do not have to cost thousands of dollars a month. They don’t even have to cost hundreds of dollars. With the right CRM, you can get the support you need for a fraction of the cost. 

Before we jump into pricing, let’s look at exactly why your dealership needs a CRM.

Lead management

Leads can come from a number of sources: your website contact form, word of mouth, third-party lead sites, phone calls, texts, emails, walk-ins, etc. No matter where the lead originates, dealers need to track all of these touchpoints. 

CRMs help dealerships organize all of their lead information in one place so that following up on potential customers is more efficient. All that is required is entering customer data and keeping the data current. 

Lead nurturing and generation

Inconsistent or missed follow-ups with potential leads can mean lost sales and lost dollars. 

Lead nurturing can make a huge difference in your sales numbers. Inbound marketing agency, Strategic, found that lead nurturing increased sales opportunities by 20% compared to non-nurtured leads. Ask yourself: What would your business look like if you increased sales by 20%?

CRMs systemize the relationship-building activities we all know are so important, but none of us have time for. More importantly, it allows you to deliver a consistent experience for your customers.

One especially effective feature of good CRMs is the auto-response function. Auto-responders help you quickly respond to every lead inquiry, even when you’re not available to respond personally. 

According to a Harvard Business Review study, companies that responded to a customer query within an hour were seven times more likely to qualify the lead. Companies that waited 24 hours or longer were significantly more likely to lose the sales lead. Auto-responders ensure you’re the first to respond to every customer, every time. 

Streamlined communication

Much of the sales process today happens before the customer arrives at the dealership. This makes customer communication more important than ever. CRMs help you keep track of all customer conversations, whether they happen via call, text, or email. Your CRM should include these features:

  • Texting platform. Texting through your CRM platform ensures all customer communication stays within the company, even if a salesperson leaves the dealership. A texting platform will also keep your business TCPA compliant. 
  • Call management. Phone calls are still the most effective way to connect with prospective customers. Recording calls for training and quality purposes provide a documented record should questions arise. Recorded calls are also effective training tools for new salespeople.  
  • Email. CRMs keep your email box organized. Each email message is connected to a customer’s profile so that you have an accurate, up-to-date thread of every conversation. 
  • Customer Notes. Imagine getting a phone call from a number you don’t recognize. It’s a customer calling you back about a car they looked at earlier that week, and they want to know if the offer is still good. Do you remember that exact customer and offer? Of course not. With customer notes, if a phone number is in your CRM, all of the customer’s information pops up on your phone so you can be ready.

Track the ROI of each marketing channel

If you’re spending money on social media ads and sponsored listings on third-party sites, it’s critical to know the Return on Investment (ROI) of each channel. But it’s not enough to know which channels brought in the most leads; you want to know which channels resulted in the most sales.

One-man shows can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on advertising that yield little to no results. Choose a CRM that allows you to track the ROI of each marketing channel. This will help adjust your marketing dollars accordingly and optimize your spending.

Integration with your DMS 

Lastly, one-man shows want to choose a CRM that integrates with their dealership management system (DMS). These integrations allow dealers to streamline the sales process from start to finish. For example, some DMS-CRM integrations allow you to scan a customer’s driver’s license and instantly create a customer file in the DMS. There’s no need for duplicate data entry and no chance for information to fall through the cracks.

The cost of a good CRM

More than ever, one-man shows need a CRM that makes it easier to juggle the many hats they wear. They need tools that help them track leads and manage customer communications, optimize ad spend, and remain TCPA compliant. 

Most dealer CRMs on the market today cost thousands of dollars a month. At that price, you won’t hear us arguing that it’s worth the investment. 

But CRMs don’t have to cost thousands of dollars. They don’t even have to cost hundreds of dollars. The key to saving money is choosing a CRM that’s built for independent dealers and one-man shows like yourself. 

If you’re a one-man show that’s ready to take control of your business, it’s time to invest in a CRM. 

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