The Importance of Personalizing Your Dealership’s Trade-In Process 

Mar 17, 2022

It’s important to make your dealership’s trade-in program as simple as possible, and personalization can help in this process. Offering simplicity has always been necessary, but during the most recent inventory shortage, it became absolutely essential. Unfortunately, many dealerships overlook how important personalizing the car trading experience is in the process. This can be a major hurdle to inventory acquisition.  

Luckily, this isn’t a shortcoming you have to live with. By simply taking a few proactive steps, dealerships can make their trade-in process easier and more appealing for customers. In addition to helping build inventory, personalization will also benefit your overall sales and brand reputation. Personalizing the car trading experience may be the best thing you ever do for your dealership. 

Simplifying the car trading process 

When you personalize the car trade-in experience, you can greatly increase your ability to maintain inventory. All the personal touches in the world mean nothing, however, if you’re not also providing a simplified process. The fact is that 25% of consumers are willing to switch auto brands to get what they want, and a fair and simple deal on their trade-in falls into this category. 

Before you dive into the task of personalizing the car trading experience, ask yourself if you’re offering a simple process for your customers. This can be a difficult question to answer since simple is a subjective term. By utilizing the following strategies, though, you can remove complications from the entire trade-in procedure. 

Make the process easy to understand 

A chief complaint among consumers trying to trade in their vehicle is that they don’t understand the process. It’s not that trading in a vehicle is inherently complicated, but there is no uniform procedure used by dealerships across the country. If you’re trying to create a personalized car trading experience, you must first start by ensuring your customers know what’s going on.  

The easiest way to do this is to use simple and clear language. Take time to break down the process step by step. You can even fully explain it on your website so anyone trying to trade in or sell their vehicle knows exactly what to expect before ever coming to the dealership. And by using tools like Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer, consumers will have all the information they need before ever visiting.   

Offer tools to simplify the process 

The Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer program does much more than just prepare consumers before they come to your dealership. It also allows them to enter all their information from the comfort of their homes. This helps customers find the value of their car for a redeemable offer — with minimal effort on their part — that lasts for seven days.  

While this adds to the simplified and personalized car trading experience, it also makes the job of the dealership much easier. The friction that’s typical of the trade-in process is removed entirely since everything gets done digitally. The offer is also backed by Kelley Blue Book. Once you accept a vehicle, you can choose to put it on your lot or sell it to our partner for full trade-in value. 

Make scheduling an appointment easy 

If someone calls your dealership interested in selling or trading in a vehicle, it’s simple to provide them with the right information. In a world where the overwhelming majority of consumers visit websites before ever contacting a company, though, you want to make sure they can do as much on your company’s page as possible.  

This is why you should put “Sell My Car” and “Trade In My Car” links in obvious places on your website. Don’t hide these links in hierarchical navigation menus — although you should also feature them there.  

Make an offer during service and maintenance  

Even when there’s a shortage of automobiles in the market, dealerships can still make money through their fixed operations. While this is beneficial for both dealers and their clients, it also offers the opportunity to simplify trading in a vehicle. Once the mechanics have finished up with a customer’s car, it’s simple to make an offer right on the spot.  

This can be a powerful moment for a personalized car trading experience. Dealer reps already know what type of vehicle the person enjoys, and they’ve likely had conversations about what the customer doesn’t like about their car. This information can prove invaluable if there’s something in inventory that would meet the needs of the service client.  

Check out our Fixed Operations Blog for other ideas on how your service department can work magic.  

Personalizing the car trading experience  

As long as your dealership utilizes the above strategies, you’ve done almost everything possible to simplify the trade-in process. This is typically enough for many dealerships, but the shortage that began during the pandemic proved more is needed. Customers looking to trade in their vehicles are in the metaphorical driver’s seat, so you have to stand out.  

You can accomplish this by personalizing the car trading experience. There are plenty of ways to do this — some more effective than others. The following strategies are those which have proven successful both before and during the vehicle shortage. In short, there’s no reason to think such approaches won’t continue to work in the future.  

Adapt to the customer’s schedule 

One of the most important things you can do to personalize the car trade-in experience is to work on the customer’s schedule. The pandemic changed nearly everyone’s daily routine. The end of the pandemic may alter a lot of things, but most people’s new routines would not. Individuals found freedom in having flexible schedules.  

It’s imperative that you personalize the car trading experience with this in mind. If a customer can only come in during the morning, make sure someone can see them. If they can’t arrive until 30 minutes after the dealership closes, consider bending the rules a bit. Trade-in personalization means respecting a client’s unique time constraints.  

Put more of the process online  

Dealers who focus on personalizing the car trading experience often dwell too much on active measures they can take. It’s important to remember, however, that it’s clients themselves who can best personalize their experience. By utilizing online tools like 360° walkarounds and the Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer program, you can let customers create their own experience. Consumers can also upload up to six images of their vehicle, so this makes the entire process more transparent on all sides.  

Utilize social media targeting 

If you’re vigilant about your dealership’s social media presence, you’re ahead of the game compared to some car sellers. Targeted social media marketing is one tool, though, that even the most attentive professionals sometimes overlook.  

With platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you can do more than just “boost” individual posts. You can literally target specific demographics — including age, gender, geographic location, income level, and more — in order to personalize the car trading experience.  

After all, having a traditional SUV owner see your trade-in deals doesn’t accomplish much if your dealership sells luxury vehicles.  

Know your customer’s personal situation 

It may seem tempting to get customers in and out of your dealership as quickly as possible during an inventory shortage. After all, it’s difficult to even keep vehicles on the lot. If someone walks away with their trade-in to consider their purchase options, there’s a good possibility that someone else will swoop in and buy the vehicle they were looking at.  

Even with this being the case, salespeople should still get to know every potential customer’s personal situation. Not only is this essential for personalizing the car trading experience, but it will provide invaluable information you can use to point the customer toward a new vehicle if necessary. 

If the vehicle they want gets sold, though, make sure you openly communicate. If they decide to trade in a vehicle for something you had on the lot, it can be a rude awakening if they show up and it’s gone. Let them know this is a possibility so they don’t feel blindsided, and give them a call if someone does buy the vehicle. This will help maintain the relationship. 

Start offering a personalized car trading experience today 

Whether the auto market reaches normalcy or continues experiencing supply crunches, the fundamentals never really change. When inventory acquisition becomes as important as it did during the pandemic, though, those fundamentals became far more important. Fortunately, everything you’ve learned in this guide focuses specifically on improving in this area.  

At Kelley Blue Book, we do more than just provide market prices to consumers. We also strive to help dealerships become as profitable as possible. We’re happy to offer a variety of tools to help simplify and personalize the car trading experience — including resources that bring transaction-ready consumers right to your lot! 

The Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer tool is one great way to improve personalization, so take the time to learn how this tool can help your dealership trade-in program today.