To build rapport with consumers who might be hesitant to visit the showroom, Jeff Wyler Automotive Family Inc. staffers are using FaceTime to bring the dealerships to them.
Instead of always relying on impersonal emails, Jeff Wyler salespeople with iPhones are urged to take conversations to the video-calling platform if a consumer is a fellow iPhone owner. From there, salespeople can answer questions or do impromptu vehicle walkarounds, said Kevin Frye, the group's eCommerce director.
"We're always training our people that if you can get out of an email dialogue and personalize yourself by bringing yourself live to them, it's going to make a much bigger impact," Frye told Automotive News.
"That's the biggest struggle for a salesperson: to build value in yourself, to build that trust with the shopper. Trying to do that through an impersonal email is next to impossible. If you can put that smiling face in front of them, even if it's through a smartphone, it's 100 times better," he said.
Frye said salespeople have used FaceTime for several years. He said the group is taking a page from retailers that traditionally did business at shopping malls, which continue to struggle as more consumers shop online.
Frye said those nonautomotive retailers are offering strong website experiences, using digital advertising and engaging potential buyers on social media. He said the retailers are taking themselves to the shoppers to make sales, which is what his group is trying to do.
The Milford, Ohio, group ranks No. 47 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 19,498 new vehicles in 2016. It has 15 rooftops.