Used car dealers have established a dense network across the Czech market so it is very difficult to find other methods to boost sales growth. A number of small dealers who lack the funds to invest in development are gradually leaving the market. Major used car dealers believe that the future of the market lies in investment in innovations, which will bring them a broader and more discerning spectrum of customers. Over its 25 years of existence, AAA AUTO has brought a number of innovative approaches to the market, transforming it into a sophisticated business based on the latest IT technologies and the internet.
Purchasing a used car is not just a matter of the range of vehicles on offer. In spite of the fact that the AAA AUTO Company currently offers approximately 8,000 vehicles, it has always focused on innovating and simplifying purchasing processes. “The sale of a used car now requires expert diagnostics and a large amount of data. This is why we endeavour to inform every customer sufficiently and clearly about the origins of the vehicles on offer and to simplify the selection process with the aim of absolute customer satisfaction,“ says AAA AUTO managing director Karolína Topolová.
In the past, customer communications took place over the phone. Development of the internet and marketing techniques meant that the company became a pioneer in the field of telemarketing and the web presentation of used cars. It currently realises 90% of vehicle transactions using the internet and mobile phones, which are used to handle most customer communications. In 1998, the company established a call centre in Prague for its clients’ requirements, which was absolutely unique in the field of used car sales, not just in the Czech Republic, but also in Central Europe. In the same year, the company began developing its on-line business with the launch of its first web presentation. Four years later, the www.aaaauto.cz website became the most-visited automobile site in the country.
During 2017 the visiting rate from mobile devices in particular rose significantly. The company launched a modern mobile application for smart phones three years ago and it offers the greatest selection of vehicles in Central Europe, running on both the iOS operating system and Android. As with the web application , this mobile app offers a guide, as well as a ‘Garage’ function, where customers can virtually “park” selected vehicles and return to them at any time. Compared to the same period last year, the percentage rate for vehicles selected using the mobile application rose by 13.6% this year. Mobile purchasing leveraging GPS localisation of staff is also worth mentioning. “Our dispatch centre monitors the movements of our dealers in the Czech Republic on a screen. As a result we are capable of operatively sending someone to a potential customer almost immediately,“ Karolína Topolová adds.
Another innovation is the Navision vehicle records system. AAA AUTO has developed unique software in-house for appraising and inspecting vehicles. The system enables automatic evaluation of key vehicle indicators leading to an estimate of the vehicle’s saleability, while also collecting information about the vehicle’s history from the available sources. Purchased vehicles are then registered in the IT system, which is no longer used just as a simple summary of vehicles. It enables automatic reduction of sales prices over time or recommends an ideal location in the company’s dealership network depending on the current demand from customers for vehicle models in specific regions. “We can basically say that we move vehicles to the correct branches in advance, before specific clients show an interest in them“ Karolína Topolová explains.
Sale of vehicles via the Facebook social network is also increasingly popular. “We sold over 1,000 vehicles in the Czech Republic alone this year and we have sold over 100 vehicles a week on average since the summer. These development dynamics are also mirrored on the Slovak, Hungarian and Polish markets. We use our FB to actively address new customers through posts, paid promo and by other techniques,“ Karolína Topolová explains. Sales arranged via social networks have also benefited from the high success rate of video posts with Leoš Mareš and Patrick Hezucký in recent weeks. These celebrities explain individual sales benefits to potential customers in an entertaining manner. “The first three videos have clocked up nearly 1.5 million views. We will continue in this campaign and will gradually introduce a total of ten episodes,“ Karolína Topolová adds.
AAA AUTO was also the first in its sector to implement the completely new technology of three-dimensional virtual tours of its Prague showroom and the vehicles displayed there. The camera shots and images from drones, with links to specific vehicles, together with unique technology for processing the resulting data, helps customers find their way around the complex.
The Mototechna nearly new car brand takes the most credit for these innovations. AAA AUTO re-introduced this brand onto the market five years ago and it is currently experiencing significant growth. Last year it practically doubled its performance. “We are aware that if we want to continue growing and dominating the market, we cannot rely only on our increasing number of branches. We need to offer innovations that will allow us to establish our position as market leader, and not just in sales of nearly-new cars. We want to become the most innovative company in our sector in Central Europe,“ Karolína Topolová concludes.
It was Mototechna that launched the pilot phase of Try&Buy – a unique product on the market for nearly new and used cars. Within the terms of this product, clients can initially lease any vehicle for one to three months and try it out, with the exclusive right to purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease if they are happy with it. The trial lease period is unlimited.
Mototechna is also planning to launch online vehicle sales. The company has managed to digitalise and thereby accelerate the process of entering vehicles into the system when purchasing them. These innovations are intended to increase the speed of service for customers.
AAA AUTO is planning a number of innovations for the coming year. These will be implemented across all company processes and divisions and will concern purchasing, sales, financial services, marketing, post-sales services, in-house systems and company management.