Dealerships looking to grow their dealerships should define online channels to meet customers wherever they want to work – remotely or in the dealership, independently or with assistance.

And, of course, dealerships must be flexible enough to continue transactions seamlessly as customers change their preferred method of interaction, CarMax CEO and President Bill Nash told attendees earlier this month. at Reuters Automobile Retail 2022 in Las Vegas.

“You need to have great stores, great associates, great technology, and great digital capabilities,” says Nash. “Now that sounds complex, and it is, and you can ask yourself, ‘Is it worth it?'”

Nash notes that it was definitely for CarMax. The company reports that in the zero-to-10-year used vehicle market in the United States, its share reached a record 4% in calendar year 2021, up about 13% from 3.5% in calendar year 2020. Net revenue increased 48.8% to $7.7 billion from the fourth quarter of the prior year. Online sales doubled and the company adjusted its long-term goals.

“We feel good about the future and the opportunities that are available to us,” he says. “But more importantly than all that, it was a better business. We are completely different than we were in 1993 (when the company was founded). We are a much more agile company.

Nash says other dealerships can replicate CarMax’s success. A first step is to analyze how customers want to shop and meet those customers on their own terms.

“At its most simplistic, we think of omnichannel as we’ve defined it, no matter… how you want to shop,” he says. “We want to have a very personalized and tailored experience for you, whether you want to do 100% in-store, which last quarter for us, a third of our customers did everything in-store, or we have the other end of the spectrum where you want to do everything online This is (currently) the smallest subset of our customers.

Yet this segment is growing, and many customers want to move from e-commerce to dealership and even back.

“You need to have continuous improvement because customer expectations and behaviors are constantly changing,” he says.

CarMax has replaced traditional customer service staff with multiple customer experience centers. The more than 2,000 associates handle the calls, but they’re trained to proactively help customers untangle grumbles and proactively move on to the best actions. They also proactively reach out to customers who have completed steps online.

“There’s still a good chance the client will fall,” Nash says. “This is a new area for us. We didn’t understand it. But it’s absolutely key to our success as we move forward.

Nash notes that moving toward technology that allows customers to do it all themselves is key to success.

“Now that sounds simple, but buying a used car is definitely not buying like buying a shirt. I think of all use cases,” Nash says. “Some customers need a loan.” Some customers have a trade Some customers are upside down in their trade There are many different use cases and you need to be able to meet each one.

This is where integrated and seamlessly connected technology is essential.

“Of course they’re fine with having a cumbersome process right now, but over time they’ll want it to be simple and seamless,” he says.

The process takes time, but Nash says CarMax started by developing and refining online finance.

“Just a few years ago, if you wanted to buy a car from CarMax, the only way…was to come to the store. So that’s one of the first features that we put online,” says Nash. “It was a huge home run. Why? Because when a customer is approved online, they get excited. They are excited or excited to continue this journey.

“But just as important are the customers who go online and realize that I’m not in the market right now for a used car because I can’t afford it,” he adds. “We just saved time by not having to come to the store and we saved our sales advisors from having to work with this customer when he can’t afford to buy a car at the moment. .”

Before dealers can achieve goals, however, they need to ensure all associates are trained and on board, Nash says.

“You won’t realize the ultimate benefits of this if you don’t bring the associates with you. And I can tell you that sometimes it can be the long, too long tent pole,” he says. “You can’t go as fast as your associates can stomach, and you’re going to have external stakeholders pushing. You go faster and faster. And when we could have gone faster. Not the best long term decision if you don’t bring your people with you.

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