MARKHAM, Ontario -

You book a plane ticket online. Maybe the night before the flight or at a kiosk once you arrive at the airport, you check in and get a boarding pass.

The boarding pass includes things like your name, flight number, gate number, boarding time and so forth.

The boarding pass serves as a re-confirmation of your flight details and gives you the information you need to make your flight.

And the Weins Canada dealership group is providing something similar with the “boarding cards” they give customers when they book an appointment with the dealership.

The card lists things like the customer’s name, who the product advisor is, the car the shopper is interested in and the time of the appointment.

It’s part of the group’s effort to make the online shopping to in-store visit a smooth transition, which Auto Remarketing Canada discussed with Amin Tejani, the vice president dealership operations at Weins Canada (formerly the Don Valley North Automotive Group).

Weins calls what would ordinarily be referred to as a business development center or customer development center a “customer experience center.”

There’s an emphasis on the “experience” part of that phrase — that is likely the first interaction the customer is having with the dealership, so it needs to be a positive one.

So, when a consumer submits a lead online, Tejani said, the aim is to respond in a timely fashion, answer the shopper’s primary question and share the offers on that vehicle and others like it.

And schedule an appointment.

The information gathered is put into the CRM, and once the appointment is made, the process transitions to the dealership level.

Within the various Weins dealerships are product advisors, some of whom are internet sales specialists, Tejani said.

These are a select group of folks who have to maintain a certification on things like their understanding of the CRM to grammar and phone skills.

This is meant to improve the transfer process from the CEC to the sales floor, he said.

And prevent the following scenario when a shopper — who has already gone through the CEC and booked an appointment to discuss a specific vehicle —arrives at the store.

“Mr. Jones shows up and the first question out of the salesman’s mouth is, ‘Oh, hi, how can I help you today?’” Tejani said.

“Where it should be, ‘Oh, hi, Mr. Jones, we’re expecting you. You were looking at this particular vehicle, you picked a great car, I’ve got it right over here for you, let me show you. And I know you wanted your trade appraised while you’re here, so let’s take a few minutes and get that done to save you some time.’

“So, it just flows with what the appointment coordinator does,” he said. “We have a better closing rate because the experience online matches the expectation of what the guest was supposed to get.”

The customer also gets a confirmation call from the advisor prior to the appointment, he said, which helps to break the ice a bit.

‘The backing of why the number is what it is’

We also talked to Tejani about the top challenges in pre-owned, which he pinpointed as being supply hurdles.

At Weins Canada, the group aims to overcome supply challenges by “winning more cars through the front door,” Tejani said.

And that comes about by a stronger appraisal process and providing a more “transparent appraisal,” he said.

“What I mean by that is, we don’t just give the salesman a number. We give them the backing of why the number is what it is, with the reconditioning charges laid out properly, other vehicles like that one, what they’re being sold for in the market,” he said. “What the customer has already done is, they’ve likely gone online anyways and done their homework; so when they come in, we’re just giving them the assurance that, ‘Hey, we’ve done our homework, too, and it should match with what you’re seeing.’”

That approach has helped boost the “win ratio,” Tejani said.

Certified pre-owned

The certified pre-owned market is another point of emphasis for Weins Canada.

In fact, the group’s Don Valley North Toyota store was named the 2016 Auto Remarketing Canada CPO Dealer of the Year.

The group’s Don Valley North Toyota location was Toyota’s top CPO dealer in Canada for 2016, and its Don Valley North Lexus location has been the top Lexus CPO store for two years in a row.

Tejani has found CPO to be gaining traction in the Canadian market, as the concept has now gone through a few ownership cycles.

“People have gone through the CPO purchase once. They liked it, they’re coming back and doing it again, because they liked it,” he said. “So we’re having repeat buyers, because they’ve had success and good luck with their CPO purchase their first time out. I think that cycle continues to help brand CPO.”