4 sales-centric takeaways from the 2021 J.D. Power SSI* Study

When clocks get moved back an hour and the leaves start to change color, those of us with franchise or OEM experience know that it’s SSI* season. Instead of a lengthy download, we decided to focus on 4 nuggets from this year’s report that can help a savvy dealer, group, regional powerhouse, or OEM sell more. 

EVs are a selling opportunity
In the SSI press release, J.D. Power executive Chris Sutton says, “BEV buyers are a unique challenge for dealers.” To an operator, this “challenge” is an opportunity to SELL. And we excel at SELLING in this business.

Call three local electrical contractors, and determine the charging network that dominates in your area. Use home charger installations and charging network pricing to build EV packages for your clients. You can even create a top-tier package that includes a 3-hour training using one of your trained sales consultants. It’s your business; SELL! 

Use this to create an EV menu, and have it printed on large stock and laminated. Offer every single EV prospect (we always set expectations early, right?) and buyer the opportunity to select the EV charging package that’s right for them. While we’re on this subject, I recommend a digital commerce platform that allows you to present these options exclusively to EV buyers online.

Now we have happier EV customers, plus some unique EV F&I sales which set our dealership up to profit on these vehicles… which turns this from a challenge into a sales opportunity. 

The time for a genuine online selling strategy is here
The J.D. Power report says, “The ‘Amazon effect’ of seeing, buying and having a product delivered to your doorstep has made its way into vehicle buying and it is here to stay.” But we’re talking about sales here. To underscore and highlight the sales opportunity, let’s go back to last year’s SSI press release: ** 

“… nearly one in four buyers say their purchase experience during the pandemic will make them less likely to shop in person in the future, indicating that digital retail processes are here to stay. These lasting effects make it imperative for dealers to step up their digital offerings to remain competitive.”

Look at your market. Dealers tell me almost every day that they increasingly see more competition from online sellers. Last year’s forecast from J.D. Power** appears to be lining up with reality. With as much as 25% of future customers looking to transact online, online transactions are the new key to market share growth when inventory returns. 

Delivery scoring priority demands an upstream approach
Delivery is now the largest slice of the SSI scoring pie, at 28%. This represents nearly three times the weight of how customers score your multi-million dollar facility.

Improving delivery scores requires more than just improving what happens when customers are exhausted, frustrated, and not paying attention at vehicle handover. Get out ahead of any issue; delays in getting the deal desked and sent to F&I irritate customers and costs your dealership throughput and profit.

Step up and quarterback your sales floor with digital tools that save you time and engage your customers with pre-qualification, payments, products and approvals—as opposed making them feel abandoned. 

Of course, bringing digital tools and structure to your sales floor gets payments with your rate markups and protection products in front of customers while they are still enthusiastic about their vehicle purchase. Selling means maximizing back end opportunities, and ensuring that your F&I managers spend the most time with the most profitable opportunities.  

Next year’s business is right around the corner
We all have our own end of year push, and if we allow the calendar to control us it’s going to be Q1 before we make any substantial change to our businesses.

If you need to get out of the lead game, and generate online commerce: start now. 

If you need to compete with online sellers and are searching for a digital commerce platform that enables at-home delivery with fees based on distance, and online deposits: start now.

If you need a solution that works online, in-store, or on a customer’s phone: start now.

If you need a protection plan-oriented platform that supports creating your own EV specific products: start now


*J.D. Power is the publisher of the 2021 J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) SM Study, and the November 10, 2021 Press Release from J.D. Power is the source for 2021 J.D. Power content in this blog. The J.D. Power 2021 SSI Press Release can be viewed here.

**J.D. Power is the publisher of the 2020 J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) SM Study, and the December 10, 2020 Press Release from J.D. Power is the source for 2020 J.D. Power content in this blog. The J.D. Power 2020 SSI Press Release can be viewed here.