As the UK begins to adjust to a ‘new normal’, eBay Motors Group, Head of Marketing, Dermot Kelleher joins Neil Smith, Operations Director at Imperial Cars, Will Blackshaw, Managing Director at Blackshaws Suzuki, Tanesha Stafford, Co-Founder of Armchair Marketing and Mark Ellis, host of the latest episode of The Armchair Show, in association with eBay Motors Group.

The Armchair Show is an Automotive YouTube show and Podcast that highlights people who do great things in the industry. It’s a chance for people to be seen in their best light and a celebration of positivity and all that’s great in the industry.

The shows mission is to help it’s community to Learn, Prosper & Grow.

Despite the current circumstances, the show’s guests reveal that there’s significant opportunity available to dealers who can adapt to online change, whilst finding innovative ways to ‘keep it personal’.

Highlights from The Armchair Show:

Online to offline – adapt fast.

Neil Smith, Operations Director at Imperial Cars is trying an exciting approach to adapting to the recent changes in consumer behaviour, by creating opportunities to combine the human personal touch with the power of online:

“What we’re looking at is essentially three ways to buy the car now.

One is what you might class as a ‘traditional method’, but we obviously can’t do this immediately because we will be working on an appointment-only basis due to the constraints.

Two would be the click and collect model; which is basically get everything done before the customer arrives, provide a test drive experience with the car all sanitised etc… and follow that with our new personal booths with a video link to our sales team to finalise the handover experience.

And finally, number three will be the delivery piece, which will be the click and collect model, but the customer actually doesn’t need to collect, we’ll deliver. So the personal aspects will still remain. 

My belief, and what we’re aiming and moving towards, is a great personal customer experience with our sales team, served via the screen from the safety of our unique showroom booths.” 

The approach demonstrates the significant effort that Imperial and other car dealers are currently going to, in order to protect both their employees and customers at the same time. This focus on the overall safety in the car-buying experience is clearly front of mind for dealers at this time.

Track metrics that matter.

Data can be complicated, and, in the main, that complexity puts a lot of car dealers off it. However, data can be rewarding, and with the right approach, you can really simplify it down to a few key things that can help you and your car dealership to maximise sales.

Dermot Kelleher, Head of Marketing at eBay Motors says,

“Get an understanding, consistently across all of your expensive marketing channels or where you’re spending money and decide which of those are performing in terms of driving visits & engagement with the right pages. Use common sense – so, visits are fine, but not if they bounce and leave your website.

And then obviously from visits through to page views, through to a telephone call or email connections.

So that’s really the kind of bedrock.

Will Blackshaw, Managing Director of Blackshaws Suzuki, Mitsubishi & Nissan revealed that one of his key focuses is to ensure that there are no wasted opportunities.

“Being a main dealer we’ve got many KPIs from workshop through to cost and sales. My mentality has always been about ensuring that no opportunity is wasted. Has there been an enquiry? Has the customer been contacted and in a suitable time? That’s probably the most important thing to me.”

Dermot Kelleher, Head of Marketing at eBay Motors Group

Create the highest possible quality listings.

Neil Smith has won awards for his vehicle listings, and we discovered that his ethos is centered around serving the customer with what they need.

“If they’re comparing our car with a competitors car, we should give that information freely, openly and transparently. The old school theory was put as little out there as possible. That doesn’t work. You know, that hasn’t worked for five years.

We make a big thing of the spec on every vehicle details page because that is massive added value for the customer.

Then we use one of the products for doing the live video tours and that sort of thing when the consumer wants it. But for us, that point of differentiation is around how we present that vehicle on the website, we’ll go to 40 images where necessary.

A Ford Fiesta does not necessarily need 40 images, but a BMW M5 with lots of spec needs 40 images.

So we’re sensible in how we do that.

Will Blackshaw agreed adding his emphasis on images:

“It doesn’t seem like two years ago that 12 images seemed a big number. And then suddenly we went to, 20, 40 and then 90.”

Retail is clearly still detail.

Build trust.

Dermot Kelleher knows that trust is key when car buyers are moving between cars and making decisions.

“In a way, it’s not always about just generating sales, but alongside it, it’s about making sure you don’t lose any sales.

Will Blackshaws dealership has been around for a long time, seeing lots of change – with roots back to 1919, but there’s no getting away from the fact this will be one of the biggest challenges to adapt to since its beginning. Will says,

“We’re also hard pushing for online sales and it’s been buy online, click to buy. I think that’s going to be the big challenge. But for us, I think, you know, we as a family business have been running for 100 years and it’s trying to put some human element into that.”

You can watch the full episode here, or find out more about The Armchair Show, in association with eBay Motors Group.