By Mike Pilkington, Paragon Automotive managing director
Recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have shown that there was a 10.8% increase in new car registrations in 2013 – the highest annual registration total since 2007.
These green shoots of recovery are a promising sign for the automotive industry as we start to look towards a brighter, post-recession future.
With sales picking up, competition between manufacturers is becoming increasingly fierce as everyone wants a share of the market.
At Paragon, we have seen how the demonstration fleet has become an increasingly important component in the buying process and a significant tool for creating brand and product awareness for manufacturers.
Service providers often manage corporate demonstration fleets on behalf of car manufacturers and large dealer groups and as such, play a key role in helping them reach their target audience – new customers.
Understanding that no two car brands are the same is imperative in meeting their individual requirements and key to maximising opportunities to drive sales growth and ensuring customer satisfaction is placed firmly at the core of demonstration activity.
The demonstration is a critical brand contact point with the customer and creates that all-important first impression.
However, statistics show that up to 66% of prospective customers are not contacted following on from their demonstration – with 78% saying the lack of post demonstration follow-up made them more likely to take a demonstration with another brand.
What these figures clearly show is that there is certainly an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of demonstrator programmes to drive sales growth.
So, how should providers of demonstration fulfilment services work with car manufacturers to achieve this?
The most crucial step is for the service provider to align itself to its client’s marketing and business strategy – essentially becoming an extension of the manufacturers brand, sales team and business ethos.
Additionally, an integrated fleet sales support service that incorporates a wide-range of marketing activities will enable manufacturers to optimise their demonstration fleet, target the right customers and manage leads effectively to drive sales conversion rates.
We are also seeing technology play a pivotal role in the demonstration offering.
Delivering fast, efficient online booking service and a consistent handover experience is imperative to ensuring customer satisfaction whilst providing that all important customer market and product feedback for the sales and marketing teams.
Ultimately what we want to ensure is that we are being effective – getting the right insight to get the right people in the right car.
Ensuring sales opportunities are always maximised might sound simplistic but ensuring the management of sales leads, customer contact and providing effective field sales support will all help build that all important customer relationship.
Running a demonstration fleet is an expensive commitment for vehicle manufacturers and dealers alike, but it should be seen as marketing investment to drive sales.