Selected by CIO Review as one of the Top 20 Most Promising Automotive Tech Solution Providers in 2014.
By David Meyer, Executive VP
Take a moment to look out onto your dealership floor. How many customers do you see with mobile devices in their hands? How many members of your sales staff have mobile devices? And are they using them to help you drive your profits?
It’s a fact: We live in a mobile world. An estimated 56% of all Americans have smartphones, and 24% own tablet computers. In the 18-34 age range, the rate of smartphone owners jumps to 80%. In the first half of 2011, wireless consumers in the US logged almost 1.15 trillion minutes. That accounts for more than 6 billion minutes of usage per day. No doubt that number has grown substantially.
So what are they using their smart devices for? Besides texting friends and posting Instagram photos on Facebook, they’re also using their mobile devices to shop. A recent Google study estimates that 78% of smartphone owners use their phones to make online purchases. That includes shopping for cars.
In fact, 78% of people planning to buy a vehicle in the next 12 months will use a mobile device during the purchase process. That breaks down to 48% of car shoppers who use their mobile devices to do initial research; 44% to compare prices at different dealerships; 32% who use their smartphones to locate dealerships; 23% who contact a dealerships using a smartphone; and 31% who use mobile devices to browse dealership inventory.
The automotive industry has definitely taken notice. Popular sites like Car-Factor.com and GroupCars.com offer mobile apps designed to help car shoppers compare inventory and prices. And sites like Cars.com and Autotrader.com get millions of hits each month from visitors driven to their websites via mobile applications.
Mobile devices have certainly helped car shoppers become more savvy buyers, making it easier to find better vehicles and deals. But mobile devices also offer tremendous competitive advantages to the dealerships that develop a smart mobile strategy.
Those dealerships are leveraging mobile devices and apps to better reach their customers. Rather than asking for emails, today’s smart dealers are asking for smartphone numbers. They're communicating with customers via text messages, and getting a response. After all, studies show that 97% of mobile subscribers will read text message within 15 minutes of receiving it, with 84% responding within one hour.
Mobile-savvy dealers are also offering free apps to their customers. These handy apps let customers view their owner’s manual, schedule service appointment, buy accessories for their cars, get roadside assistance, find their car in parking lot, locate the cheapest gas stations, report an accident, get alerts when the parking meter expires, when there’s a recall, or even when their teenage son exceeds the speed limit. These apps help keep the dealers in front of their customers, and do wonders for drumming up repeat business.
More dealers are using mobile apps in the dealership, as well. iPads equipped with apps left in the showroom or service lounge provide customers with walk-around tours, videos about the dealership, information on financing programs and accessories, as well as promote other services.
Smartphone apps can help you improve your back-end operations, as well. There are mobile apps designed for dealerships that let you find the features that matter most to you customers (safety, performance, comfort, price) and build a shopping list of cars that will most likely sell. Apps can also help simplify tasks for you and your personnel. Take those apps that let you capture photos, video and vehicle info then automatically upload it all to your website. Or those apps that allow you to get a vehicle appraised to determine the retail and wholesale value of a car. There are even apps that let you identify calls from potential customers that went wrong, as well as why they went wrong, so you can follow up and save the deal.
Mobile devices play a central part in your subprime auto financing strategy, as well. With a vehicle tracking solution like GoldStar GPS, you’ll be able to use your own mobile devices to track the movement, location and status of your vehicles, run reports, receive alerts when a car has entered or left a specific geographic boundary or has stopped for an extended period of time, and even remotely disable a delinquent vehicle.
Bottom line is: If you’re not taking advantage of mobile technology to drive your profits, then you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity. Mobilize your sales. Start by visiting GoldStarGPS.com.