Dealer Talk X 2016 – Calgary

DealerTalk X Calgary 2016This past Thursday we were fortunate enough to attend the 2nd annual Dealer Talk X event in Calgary. It was amazing to see how the event grew and evolved in just one year. As always, there were some amazing speakers and here is a quick highlight reel of what they had to say.

The day started off with an inspirational keynote from the 2010 Canadian Olympian Gold Medalist, Jon Montgomery, titled Dreaming Big and Living Bigger. “Things are only out of your reach if you put them there” was the overlying message throughout Jon’s presentation. We all face so many challenges on a daily basis, but some of those challenges exist to push us further; we just need the drive to get there and to celebrate the small victories along the way!

For the first breakout session we listened to Rick Johnston talk about behavioural economics and how the consumer buying cycle has changed, but not in the way you think. Most buyers still go through these 6 phases: Meet & Greet > Fact Finding > Vehicle Selection > Present > Demo > Write-Up, but what has changed drastically are the Fact Finding and Vehicle Selection phases. It’s not uncommon to have a customer walk into the dealership and say “I want a 2016 Honda Civic EX-T in lunar silver metallic, what’s your best price?” So if that’s the case, have your salesmen adapted to this shift? If the customer is coming in to buy and ends up leaving without a vehicle, where is the disconnect? Just because customers are coming into the dealership already set on a vehicle, it doesn’t mean that you can’t provide them with different options for things like financing, leasing, warranty packages, etc. Don’t limit yourself just because the customer says they want to finance the vehicle for 72 months. Give them options.

Our second breakout session was with David MacDonald. David spoke to us about market strategy and financial research and how it pertained to 3 demographics: Albertans, women, and millennials. This was a data-heavy session, so it was perfect for us data nerds!  For Alberta buyers, here were the top three reasons why customers wanted to purchase a newer car:

  • 29% Previous vehicle had too many kilometers
  • 28% Newer or different features in their vehicle
  • 27% Treat myself to something newer

The decision process varied  from rational (too many km’s) to emotional (I work hard so I deserve this).

Here are a few more stats to get you thinking:

  • 85% of Albertans are searching on a desktop or laptop
    • 42% are also searching on mobile, but they tend to go back to desktop to dig deeper into research
  • 73% of Canadians said having no-pressure sales was the number one thing that mattered to them
    • 48% of Canadians also said they want an easy to navigate website
  • 42% of recent car buyers and future intenders in Canada are women
    • 87% of all car purchases are influenced by a woman
  • 60% of millennials will graduate with debt ($40 to $50k)
    • Millennials also lean more towards used vehicles: New – 46% and Used – 54%

Another important takeaway from this session was when David took us through the advertising mediums each demographic uses the most. For each demographic, newspapers were on the bottom and radio didn’t even make the list. Something to think about if you are using either of these to advertise.

After lunch, we got to listen to Rohn Jackson chat about changing our demographic targeting. He brought up a great example about how the data on him as a buyer says he’s a 32 year old male (so a millennial), but when he walked into a dealership with his wife and 6 month old son, he wasn’t seen as a millennial, he was seen as a parent in need of a family vehicle. So if that’s the case, why do we focus on demographics like age and gender? Why not focus on parents? His main message was: don’t focus on a product segment, focus on a people segment.

The day wrapped up with an invigorating keynote from Scott Stratten. If you haven’t heard him speak at an event yet, you should! The overarching theme of his presentation was customer service and how it affects your brand. From doing something as simple as responding to tweet, to going through the amazing sequence of events that the Ritz Carlton staff did to return a stuffed giraffe, (if you haven’t heard the story about Joshie, check it out here), the stories that your customers (or staff) write are usually the ones that stick. The most common issue is that customers simply don’t feel as though they are heard and it’s amazing what an immediate response can do to defuse a situation and how it can start to build a story for your brand.

If you would like to see any of the presentations, they will be posted on the DealerTalk website in a couple of weeks. A big thanks to DealerTalk for putting on another great event, we look forward to coming out again next year!

photo with Jon Montgomery and his gold medal!