Our dealer development managers discuss how to achieve success in the automotive industry in 2021

In 2021, the car industry will be facing an unprecedented development. The social impact of the current global pandemic, coupled with numerous advancements in technology, will shape this year and pose challenges for the automotive sector.

Our three dealer development managers — Christian, Lars and Jonas — all have extensive experience in the automotive industry. We’ve sat down with them, and we’ve asked them what is it that would keep them awake at night if they were still working as car dealers, and what they think are the most important activities to focus on in 2021 to increase profitability and customer loyalty.

Finding new ways of interacting with customers

The automotive customer journey is experiencing a steady transition to digital touchpoints. As buyers shift towards more digital solutions to interact with businesses, dealers are expected to be where the customers are.

According to Christian Gryl Larsen, our dealer development manager in Denmark,

«To increase profitability, I think the key is to take care of the customer. Today, there are so many new ways to communicate with the customer. It’s a whole new journey. And it’s up to the dealer whether to participate in that journey or not.»

Our dealer development manager in Norway—Lars Gunnar Tronaas—argues that harnessing digital solutions to communicate with customers is increasingly critical to survive in the market. As he says,

«Getting up to speed on digital and automated ways to communicate with customers should be the key focus for dealers.»

Digitalizing customer touchpoints

The interactions that occur between dealers and customers take place at a variety of touchpoints along the buying journey — both before and after the sale. The shift towards more digital solutions, already facilitated by technological advancements, has been further pushed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has fueled new ways of interacting with customers.

As Lars says,

«Before the sale, prospective car buyers can now build and customize their car online, instead of having to visit a physical dealership. While Tesla is a frontrunner in this game, nowadays all the largest car manufacturers have a system in place.»

Automating after-sales activities

After the sale, the activities that used to be managed manually, through a phone and an Excel sheet, are now better handled through digital and automated solutions. Invitations and bookings for a variety of after-sale services, such as vehicle inspections and wheel changes, for instance, can now be sent automatically via email and text messages, to free up time and minimize errors.

Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as customer invitations for vehicle inspections and wheel changes, and enabling customers to easily book online instead of having to call the workshop, can also help get a consistent flow of customers to the workshop, boost revenue, and increase customer satisfaction and retention.

Overcoming the barriers

There is a widespread perception among dealers and workshops that kick-starting this digital transformation is something challenging and unachievable.

The most important challenge, according to Christian, is that the automotive industry in Denmark tends to be somewhat conservative. Dealers do things the old, manual way, and have some resistance to change.

According to Lars, the situation in Norway is not that different.

«It’s a big change for the “experienced” people who have been in the industry for 20 years.»

Jonas Billström, our dealer development manager in Sweden, thinks that his aim for the upcoming year will be to communicate the benefits of such digital solutions, and the ease with which car dealers can make the switch. To put it in his words,

«My main focus will be to make dealers understand how easy it is to switch to more digital solutions.»

In this respect, solutions that are ready to run and do not require any implementation are likely going to be the preferred choice of automotive dealers and workhops.

In conclusion, shifting towards more digital solutions and connecting with customers along the various stages of the customer journey—from first discovery to after-sale follow-ups—will be critical to achieve success in the automotive industry in 2021. Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks can help free up time, increase revenue, and boost customer satisfaction, whereas deciding not to be a part of this change can be detrimental to success in the industry.

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