Car dealerships have an advantage when it comes to building word of mouth. First, people will share their excitement over a new car with friends and family. Second, they will talk about their sales experience at the dealership.
Even though many people have an idea of what car they want, even before they take it for a test-drive. It’s the interaction mentioned above that might convince someone to check out a different brand or dealership than they originally intended.
This is how persuasive word of mouth can be. Even though tv and print ads can get your name out there, it’s the tried and true testaments of your customers, that attract high-quality leads.
So what do we mean by word of mouth marketing or a word of mouth referral? We are simply referring to the conversation between your customer and their friend that discusses your business.
It’s quite literally one person telling another person about something. But it’s more than that. Word of mouth brings in real, viable leads. In fact, a recent survey found that 49% of marketers believe that 20-30% of their leads come from word of mouth referrals. Meaning word of mouth is actually a pretty great marketing tool too.
But, what’s that mean for marketing and how can it be used in a marketing strategy?
WOM marketing works for dealerships and car salesmen simply because people trust recommendations from friends, and they trust the quality of a car brand over the salesperson or dealership for that matter.
Also, most people know exactly what car they like and want, and they know what they can afford. But word of mouth helps put relatable stories into view.
Think of two neighbors, though they may have different financial obligations, they live in the same neighborhood and can probably afford similar items.
Even though the neighbors might just be acquaintances, there is a level of trust in the recommendation between the two.
It’s been found that 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know. Which makes them one of the most significant forms of advertising.
This can also work in the opposite effect too. If you provide a bad customer experience, your upset customer can write and spread bad reviews on you. People are far more likely to share a bad experience with others. So be aware that an overly pushy sales pitch or too much back and forth haggling can hinder your reputation.
Aside from buying a car, your service department has the potential to bring in some serious lead flow. People tell their friends about the pain-free service they had. Because let’s face it, no one really wants to deal with the time or effort it takes to get their car serviced.
In fact, if you make the process as comfortable as possible, you have a highly likely chance of being recommended. In a study on dealership service departments done by DealerRater, they found that of 17,382 dealership consumers, 74% said they had recommended that particular store's service department to family or friends.
That is a huge amount of people spreading the word about you, in your favor!
Now that you understand the importance of word of mouth, how do you get it? Here are a few ways you can get leads to your dealership with word of mouth.
Growing your business through your own network is an easy way to acquire leads. By asking your happy customers to refer their friends and family, you have a good chance at getting some quality leads.
You can further motivate referrals by offering an incentive as well. For example, a dealership may offer a $200 Visa gift card to a customer if their referral comes in to purchase a car. To incentivize the referral to come in, they might offer $200 off the price of the car.
If you want to run a program from your service center, you can offer a free oil change or a discount off a service. The options are nearly endless. Gift cards, store credit, and free service options make good incentives in this case.
In either case, to make a smoothly run program, you may opt to use a referral marketing software. This way you can easily implement a program into your existing marketing and sales processes, reward, and track your referral statistics easily.
Take a look at this image of Courtesy Chevrolet’s referral program. The incentive is big and bolded making it appealing for the customer to refer.
Cars are expensive, and people can be very impatient. So when the two are combined, people can become really agitated if they feel you aren’t easy to communicate with. Therefore it’s imperative to provide an open channel of communication to all your customers. Not just that, but to also respond in a timely manner.
Because if you’re not, you may miss an opportunity to sell. Let’s face it, a person wanting to buy a car, knows there are many options and locations to do so. And they most likely won't mind driving to the next town to get the car they want, if you fail on communicating with them.
Communication is a huge part of customer service, and the service you provide is what is going to get you more business.
By effectively communicating, you are increasing your trust factor with customers. Showing them that their needs matter to you. This is what will help your word of mouth grow.
Selling a car is mostly about the car. But a good portion relies on the salesperson. The advantage is when people buy a car, they usually know what they want, and are willing to deal with a salesperson to get it.
But, there are many people out there who will steer away from the vehicle they want, or travel out of their way to a different location, if the salesperson or dealership is too difficult to work with.
Unfortunately, there are many people out there who dread the whole car buying process. And if your reviews reflect a ton of bad experiences, you’re probably hurting for business.
What you should do is listen to the bad reviews, try to address the problem, and even offer a solution.
For your good reviews, especially those written about your service or a particular person, you need to share those. Snag the comments of your happy customers and share them on your website or social profile, you’re doing yourself a huge favor.
When potential customers are able to see that you have a variety of happy customers, they have an easier time imagining themselves as one. A good testimonial or review also give you some online word of mouth.
Testimonials are a form of word of mouth
Another way to think about reviews and testimonials is that they are a form of word of mouth. Sure people will read reviews on particular vehicles, but they are also looking for reviews on your business too.
Many people will scope out how others think of your service before they head there themselves. If they read a bunch of online reviews saying you are unprofessional, overzealous, or rude, you can count them out.
However, if they see a good amount of your customers have been happy with your service and dealing with your team, they will have an easier time coming in.
As you can see word of mouth, isn’t just conversation exchanged between friends. It’s more about people (even a stranger) doing the talking for you, rather than you doing it for yourself. And a review is a great way to accomplish that.
An oldie, but goodie. For years people have left a stack of their business cards at businesses. Perhaps you leave a stack of your cards at a local car wash or even a local business.
This can help get your name out there. It can also act as a mini advertisement, and it helps increase your word of mouth too.
For example, maybe you leave your card at a hotel. A family just moved to your area, and are looking for a new car. They might ask the hotel receptionist about the closest dealership, or if they know of any car salesmen. She might steer them toward your card.
Or people passing by your stack of cards may grab one. You never know when people are looking to buy or trade a car. But, by making your business card available, you’re increasing your chances of being remembered, and making it easy for people to talk about you.
Tip- Give a couple cards to your customers. You never know who they might refer to you. By giving them a card, you’re making yourself easily shareable.
Most people can agree that buying a car is stressful. Between the amount they have to pay for a car, the haggling they feel like they have to do, and the thought of dealing with a ‘pushy’ salesperson can create a sense of anxiety for anyone.
But, if you offer a better experience than that, advertise it. If you have had customers tell you that you made their car buying experience pleasant, advertise that too. Use these types of comments to fuel your marketing campaigns.
You can promote that you are a ‘customer-oriented dealership’ meaning you take pleasure in making your customers happy, end of story. This type of attitude works really well in creating word of mouth. The less stressed your customer leaves, the happier they will be. And we all know a happy customer is the type of customer you want talking about you.
You can think of other alternative or out of the box marketing ideas too. Like hosting a ‘clean car’ event. Offer patrons a free car wash, get your customers to share the event with their friends. You might find that your referrals will come in to get their car washed but might end up leaving with a trade in. At the very least they will catch a glimpse of how you operate and will remember you for their future car buying encounters.
People sometimes talk about going to the car dealership like it’s a bad thing. Between the expense of the car and high-pressure from the salesperson, it can be an unpleasant experience. All of which can hinder word of mouth from happening.
But if you offer a good experience and make spreading the word easy, you’ll find that increasing your word of mouth isn’t actually difficult at all.