Dealer Consulting Services: Sell More Vans and Buses

Dealer consulting agencies can be one of the most powerful game-changers for any automotive dealership. They can be especially important for commercial bus and van dealerships since the market is more specialized compared to the car industry at large.

While the average customer looking for a sedan may have a lot of personal preferences and a few specific needs, individuals or businesses looking for buses and vans are often looking to solve very specific problems with their purchase. Vans and buses are often bought by people who are transporting children, people with disabilities, or even individuals with large pets. On the professional side, these vehicles are extremely flexible solutions that can be used for transporting packages, people, and equipment to and from locations that may be nearby or many hours down the road. 

When you’re looking to develop strategies to increase van and bus sales, a regular automotive consultant probably won’t have the expertise to know where the rubber meets the road. Here’s what to look for in a partner who can make an impact on your sales goals and give you an edge over the competition. 

They Know the Scope of the Industry

This is #1. While van and bus dealerships share superficial similarities with the average car dealership, they have a fundamentally different mix of customers they need to attract. Obviously, the basics of automotive sales are always the same, but that’s not where you’re going to develop a competitive advantage. 

You’ll need a dealership consultant who understands the marketing and sales dynamics of dealing with both private individuals and professional outfits. Also, depending on the scope of your business, they may need extremely specialized knowledge in RVs and other large recreational equipment. All these potential customers are different, and your dealership consulting agency will need a sophisticated strategy to develop them all 

Here are some telltale signs that your “van and bus expert” is actually just a run-of-the-mill automotive consultant:

  • They gloss over—or can’t display deep knowledge of—important concepts like fleet sales.
  • They don’t understand that van and bus dealerships require a much larger brand portfolio than everyday car dealerships.
  • They don’t appreciate the increased value of return business for a commercial dealership.
  • They lack strategies to maximize the revenue potential of after-sales service.
  • They demonstrate only a basic knowledge of top brands and common customer concerns. 
  • They dismiss the importance of upfitting to meet the unique needs of different customers in commercial sales.

Your dealer consulting partner has to understand how car sales differ from van and bus sales if they’ve got any hope of improving your KPIs. Make sure you’ve got a true expert across the table before you sign any paperwork. 

EV Knowledge Is Vital

While only 1% of cars on the road are electric these days, the number of electric buses sold is much higher at 4.5%. Since the introduction of new EV commercial models has been exploding in recent years, your dealer consulting partner should be prepared to help you develop your existing EV strategies. 

And while vehicle sales are great, the biggest opportunity for growing profits is actually from your service department, as newer EV parts can often only be successfully installed or bought through dealerships. This matters even more than it used to—since 2015 (even before COVID!) new vehicle margins have collapsed to almost nothing, while parts and service margins are up nearly 100%. If your partner doesn’t have a plan to leverage this aspect of your business, you’re leaving money on the table.

Financing Packages Should Be More Expansive

Financing options are more varied in the commercial sector. They have to be, given the fundamental differences in the customer base. Car dealerships serve primarily individuals and families, so the financing options tend to run more one-size-fits-all. 

Bus and van customers, on the other hand, range from individuals all the way up to gigantic corporations and government agencies. The financing needs of any given customer may vary widely, and dealership consulting firms should expect to build this into their active coaching and phone script strategies. 

Post-Sale and Customer Retention Plans

These two items are important for any automotive dealership. However, while a car dealership may sell one car every decade to any given customer, bus and van dealers often sell and service dozens of vehicles each year to customers they’ve had on the books for a decade or more. And with the intense competition and enormous amounts of money at stake in each transaction, retention and post-sale benefits are critical factors to leverage.

While each business will have slightly different needs, here are a few essential items you should expect to hear about from any dealer consulting candidate worth their salt:

  • Offering field service, not just in-house options.
  • Streamlining and unifying phone and internet customer experience and service.
  • Strategies for building and maintaining trust with customers.
  • Volume discounts on maintenance.
  • Understand fleet management software and packages for fleet customers.

Offer Phone and Internet Team Coaching

These two areas are especially critical for bus and van dealerships given the returns great customer relationships can deliver. Here are some of the most important elements your dealer consulting firm should be targeting for your business:

  • Scripts offer a solid (and consistent) roadmap for any sales team, and they will need to be tailored to pursue revenue opportunities that are unique to the van and bus industry. Newer employees particularly will need this safety net as they learn the ropes. 
  • Unifying the customer experience to help forge the identity you want for your dealership. Also, repeat customers will expect the same service no matter who picks up the phone—and they’ll be calling often!
  • Boosting phone/internet appointment conversion rates. Shockingly, the average is only 20% across all automotive dealerships. The most successful dealerships have rates as high as 60% because their scripts and training reinforce the details that get customers on the lot. This is especially important for vans and buses because most customers have extremely practical needs they’ll want to explore in person. 

Bus and Van Dealer Consulting that Delivers

At Phone Ninjas, we’re van and bus dealer consulting experts with decades of experience in the industry. We’ve delivered consistently great results to clients as varied as van and bus, marine, RV, commercial, and car dealerships.

Our personalized coaching model helps maximize your team’s digital and phone game whether they’re talking to a family of five or a major corporate player who needs a new fleet and consistent service support.  Backed up by our hand-tailored phone scripts and active coaching model for your team, we see our clients triple, even quadruple their appointment rate from these channels.

We’re not done when the coaching’s done, either. We mystery shop our clients afterward to verify your customers are experiencing the best possible service. We’ll even perform two mystery shops for free to gauge how your current internet and phone channels are performing and show you exactly how we’ll turbocharge the unique KPIs that mean the most to van and bus dealerships.

We can’t wait to meet you and get your business into the next gear. Reach out today for a free demo

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