We know those in the market for a new car look at price. In a consumer-driven, price-competitive market, everyone is out to save a dollar where they can. Price therefore stands as a constant element of all pathways to a sale, along with brand reputation, vehicle performance and value-add offerings like accessories, paint protection and insurance. But have you considered working safety into your sales pitch?
ANCAP recently surveyed more than 1,300 new car buyers1 and found that safety is now one of the most important considerations when it comes to consumer purchasing. While price remains important factor for just over one in two (53 per cent) of new car buyers, seven in 10 (70 per cent) consider vehicle safety to be important. One-fifth stated safety was the most important attribute.
The survey also found that around one third of new car buyers had received safety information from manufacturers or dealers prior to purchase, and this information then played a direct role in the purchasing decision of 88 per cent.
With the knowledge that consumer interest in safety is high, it is time for dealerships to embrace the safety message. Dealers are crucial advocates for the ANCAP safety message and in order to ‘teach the teachers’, we must first gain an understanding of what works on the showroom floor.
I recently visited a major metropolitan dealership to learn more about the modern sales process, and it was apparent that some safety elements are present at the point of sale, albeit they are somewhat peripheral. We want to bring the safety message front and centre to see Dealers win through increased sales and consumers win through the purchase of safer vehicles. But how do we achieve this?
In spending time with the Dealer Principal and General Sales Manager, ANCAP gained valuable insight into the strategies at play when greeting, educating, converting and closing. Safety may enter this process at a certain point, but the provision of brand-specific materials providing a tailored solution is the message ANCAP took home.
Conversation and engagement with the buyer is key, and having the right tools on hand to support this reinforces not only the positive attitude the brand has to safety, but that the dealer cares too. There are many ways to build safety into the conversation: while on the showroom floor, by pointing out the number of airbags; while on a test drive, to show them the blind spot monitor or adaptive cruise control in action; when discussing up-spec models such as the option of autonomous emergency braking, or simply while having a chat at your desk, by using the ANCAP website. And don’t be afraid to point out and compare the safety elements of competitors, particularly if your product is the class leader or most recently tested.
There are ample opportunities to introduce safety as part of the road to a sale, and this can be used to present a competitive angle and leverage a sale. To assist with this and help in identifying points of difference between the safety of different makes and models, ANCAP is working with Dealer networks to bring unique safety experiences to the dealership.
As we start working closer with those who deliver our important safety message and understand the machinations of the purchase and sales process from both sides, we have identified many opportunities to convey the message that newer, safer cars are accessible and affordable.
While the majority of new cars on sale today hold the maximum 5-star ANCAP safety rating, there are points of difference across makes and models that can give you that competitive advantage. Does the seven-seat SUV in your range offer side curtain airbags across all three seating rows? How does this compare to your competitor? Is autonomous emergency braking a standard offering in your brand’s small car? Is your competitor offering it as a costly option or perhaps not offering it at all?
One distinct advantage all dealers should be using as their trump card is the datestamp that sits alongside each ANCAP safety rating2. The datestamp is the year mark that is promoted as part of the ANCAP rating logo. The more recent the datestamp, the better the level of safety provided. So if the model you’re encouraging has a 2016 ANCAP datestamp and your competitor’s offering is stamped 2014, there is your sales advantage. Start pointing this out as your conversation starter.
In visiting a number of dealerships around the country we’ve seen that safety slows down the conversation, so if this is the difference between engaging or losing a buyer, then it’s not a bad topic to raise. If safety is not yet part of the conversation you are having with each potential buyer who walks into the showroom, start the new financial year with a resolution to embrace safety.
Remember, safety sells.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is Australasia’s leading independent vehicle safety advocate. ANCAP provides consumers with transparent information on the level of occupant and pedestrian protection, and collision avoidance capabilities provided by different vehicle models in the most common types of serious crashes.
1 ANCAP Brand Tracking Research, March 2016
2 Datestamped ratings apply to models rated by ANCAP post July 2014.