Maintaining Local Engagement as a Car Dealer as E-commerce Car Sales Increase

As digital and e-commerce car sales are becoming more popular, keeping up engagement within your community can start to slip. While you might be selling more cars online, it is important to remember that you still have a local community to sell to as well.

While online dealerships are bringing in more sales, there are things that you can offer your local community that they can’t get from these online dealers. You can use this to your advantage when building engagement with your community.

Why is Local Engagement Important?

With online car sales rising in popularity, it can be easy to want to shift your dealership’s focus in that direction instead of keeping people in your area engaged. However, the people in your area are also going to need to buy cars at some point. You want to be able to keep a relationship with them to ensure they come to you when they need a car.

The majority of business is still referred by word of mouth these days. This means if you keep your local community happy, they will tell their friends and family about your dealership and they will buy cars from you, too. 

Some other reasons local engagement is important include:

  • Community trust. Your community will be able to put their trust in you as a car dealer. They will be more likely to buy from you and refer their friends and family to you.
  • Customers will consider your recommendations. When you recommend a car to them, or recommend a car not to buy, your customers will listen to what you have to say without hesitation.
  • Improved outcomes. Establishing long-lasting relationships with your local community will greatly improve the outcome you see from your car dealership. You will get more sales and more maintenance work.
Maintaining Local Engagement

Establish a Social Media Presence

By establishing a social media presence, you can easily reach an audience in your area. If you post regularly, use hashtags, and interact with people in your community, you will quickly find a spot in the mind of car buyers.

One way to make your way into the community with social media is with Facebook. On Facebook, you can join groups filled with people in your area. Thousands of people join these groups, giving you the ability to market to thousands of people at one time with just one post. 

A proven way to build engagement and a social media profile is with interactive content. Interactive content is any type of content that a customer can interact with and keep their mind engaged.

For example, a video is considered interactive content because they have to engage their minds and listen to what is being said. Quizzes and polls are also a form of interactive content because the customers have to take the time to read the questions and answer them honestly.

When you implement interactive content into your social media strategy, you can gain an understanding and some insight on what your customers want to see from you. Listening to them and creating the content they want to see will increase their trust in you as a brand.

Some of the best social media platforms for car dealerships to join are:

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • Instagram

Offer What Online Dealers Can’t

One thing that will help your car dealership stand out to locals is by offering them something that online dealerships can’t. For example, you can offer them a number of free oil changes with purchase.

This entices customers to purchase from you because it is an expense they will not have to worry about for a while. Oil changes can be expensive for customers, so offering this for buyers is a great way to bring them in.

You can also consider offering discounts on regular maintenance for cars that have been purchased at your dealership. As this is another expensive part of owning a car, customers will like that they can save some money by purchasing a car from you.

Maintaining Local Engagement

Get Past Customers to Tell Their Story

People love to hear what others have to say about their past experiences. In most cases, hearing from others actually makes it more likely that customers will shop at your dealership. Get together with some of your past customers and ask them if they are willing to talk about the experience they had with your dealership.

If they are comfortable, you can record a video of them talking about their experience. If not, they can write about their experience. You can then upload their stories both to your website and your social media, making it easy for potential new customers to find them.

Asking customers to leave reviews online is a great way to get them to tell their stories. Whether it’s sharing their review on your social media or on search engines, they are sharing their experience for others to see and sending them in your direction.

Interact and Respond

One of the best ways to maintain engagement in your local community is to interact with them and respond to them when they have any inquiries for you. This is part of what makes social media so useful for car dealerships.

With social media, you can easily and quickly respond to messages from customers. You can also respond to comments on your post that customers might leave, making them feel noticed. 

One of the best ways to get a mutual interaction with your customers is by posting interactive content. This gives them a way to engage with your content and really get a grasp of what you are trying to say to them. When customers interact, you can respond and start the two-way conversation with them.

When you interact with your customers, you are helping build their loyalty to your dealership. The customers can feel a connection to you and your team on a personal level, making it that much more likely for them to visit your car lot and buy from you.

Consider a Referral Program

An easy way to keep your local community engaged with your car dealership is by implementing a referral program. When customers refer their friends and family to your dealership, you can reward them with an incentive.

These incentives don’t have to be anything major, most people will just be happy with a free or discounted oil change. They will happily tell people they know to buy a car from your dealership if they can get something out of it in return. 

A referral program also helps get leads in the door that are actively looking to buy a car instead of just browsing. This leads to more sales, more cars moving through your lot, and more money for your dealership.

Some benefits of a referral program include:

  • Improving customer retention
  • 2x the lifetime value of customers not referred by word of mouth
  • Cost-effective way of bringing in new customers
  • More content generated by users (reviews) of your dealership
Maintaining Local Engagement

Local Directories

When car buyers go to dealerships to purchase a car, they are usually only willing to travel up to 50 miles from where they live to the dealership. By putting your dealership in a local directory, there is a higher chance locals will find you. 

You can find local directories in your area by searching online. Enter your information in the directory website, and when people search the directory for a car dealer, you will pop right up! Surprisingly, there are still plenty of people who look up places in local directories!

One of the most common local directories is actually Google. While this might not seem like a local directory, it actually is. This is because customers use location services when searching Google, and when they get search results it will be based on their location.

Facebook is another great local directory. You can use Facebook groups in your area to post your car dealership and get found by people in your area. Easily share your business page in a Facebook group of thousands in your area.

Make a Difference in the Community

One way to really engage your local community is to do what you can for your community. This means volunteering your time to a cause or donating money to a charity. When you show up for your community, they will show up for you!

Customers want to make sure they shop with people who show that they care. By working hard to make a difference for your community, you are showing them that you care about them.

The customers will then be willing to spend more time shopping at your dealership, and they will be more likely to spread the word about you to people in their lives and bring you more business.