While the first quarter of 2017 saw a decline in the demand for new cars (the first such drop in six years), the used vehicle market continues to go from strength to strength. This follows a buoyant year in 2016, when 8.2 million, second-hand vehicles were sold in the UK and demand increased by 7.3% year-on-year.

Of course, these figures have been partially influenced by Brexit, which will impact on the cost of imported cars and encourage many to seek out used, British-made models as a result.

This should create a further boom in the used car sector, but only dealerships that have cultivated levels of trust and respect within the industry will be able to capitalise on this. With this in mind, here are some steps that will allow you to enhance your dealership and its reputation among customers: –

Become a part of AA’s new approved dealer scheme

In some respects, the task of building trust has just been simplified for car dealerships, thanks to a new innovation from AA Cars. More specifically, the brand has launched an objective, ‘Approved Dealer’ scheme in a bid to create a safe, secure and accessible resource from which to buy second-hand vehicles.

In an attempt to capitalise on rising demand and boost buyer confidence, the scheme will  be open to franchised dealers who inspect their use vehicles to a manufacturer standard. Similarly, independent dealerships can register so long as they consent to having all of their cars inspected by the AA, which is a small price to pay for such a sizeable reward.

Make no mistake; partnering with such a reputable, third-party scheme will impact the way in which customers perceive your business, while enabling you to build trust through the recommendation and verification of a familiar auto brand.

2. Improve your response time to customer queries

While the car market may have evolved in terms of technology, some aspects of sales and customer service have remained unchanged.

So although drivers are increasingly knowledgeable and demand when buying used cars, they also expect fast response times to queries and are perfectly willing to compare the entire breadth of the market until they find a viable service provider.

Being able to deliver a fast and insightful approach to customer queries is therefore key to driving sales, while it also helps to build trust and establish your dealership as a thought leader within the sector.

The first part of achieving this lies with optimising the amount of calls and queries that you take, so start by understand how and when customers contact you.

This is particularly important with telecommunications, as it is widely-known that 97% of calls to dealers take place within standard office hours (with the mornings being busiest). This knowledge lets you schedule your employee shifts to ensure that the phones are covered during the busiest times.

Not only this, but 3% of calls and queries occur outside of traditional hours and this is a trend that is likely to continue as we become increasingly familiar with tools such as email and live chat.

So you will need to have a strategy in place to respond quickly to queries that are posed through such channels, and one that ideally uses real-time and interactive social media tools such as Twitter.

3. Make customer service a key priority

Last, but by no means least, we come to customer service. This is the single most important differentiator between auto brands in the modern age, while it also determines your potential to create loyalty among customers.

There are two key rules to consider when executing a customer service strategy and attempting to exceed consumer expectations.

The first of these is that customer service is now considered to be a scalable way to delight consumers, as it offers you an opportunity to connect with them when they are at their most engaged with the brand.

Secondly, customer service as evolved into the delivery of an experience to consumers, with its primary focus being to simplify the purchasing process and help buyers to achieve genuine value for their money.

The small touches also go a long way when it comes to customer service, and there are several examples that can help your brand to stand out.

Collecting buyers from a local train station on vehicle handover is an excellent way of highlighting how much you care about the customer experience, as it delivering the type of proactive and informed responses that help individuals to make informed purchasing decisions.

From the strategy that you adopt to the small touches that bring your customer service to life, however, this should be a key focus if you intend to create viable, trusting and long-standing relationships with your customers.