Published 27 Jan 2020
This article was originally published in the Autofile Magazine - Aug 2018 issue.
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How ready to buy are customers who visit your dealership? The answer is, more ready than ever before.
Over the past few years, the online experience and information available for people thinking about purchasing vehicles has continually improved.
There’s more and better quality photos, better descriptions, indepth information, better search tools and multiple sources that aid their research.
Their time online is now most definitely more than what’s spent on the ground at dealerships, and traders have listened and evolved (albeit slowly) to deliver information and experiences online that customers can make decisions from.
This growing need for enhanced, deeper online experiences will continue to evolve so dealers can’t just sit back complacently, but I’ll cover that off in a future article.
What dealers need to understand and accept is when that customer makes contact with your dealership and walks into your business to look at a vehicle today, they are extremely ready to buy – more so than ever before in the history of car buying.
When they have narrowed all their research down to just a couple of cars to view and choose from, they are right at the end of their purchasing cycle.
However, it’s easy for dealers to be unaware of this and start treating them like they are at the beginning, back in the old days when they would look at five, 10, 15 different vehicles across many yards while doing long walks along main roads dominated by dealerships.
No wonder the term tyre-kickers came about back then. The experience dealers had with customers then was right at the start of the purchasing cycle when their only form of research was scrolling through the classifieds in newspapers, Trade & Exchange and Autotrader – the 400+ page editions – that we all loved.
This process was long and hard compared to how fast it is these days to narrow the search online incredibly quickly, and not just see one photo of the car but 20.
Instead of one sentence, they can now read lengthy descriptions. On top of that, they can do their research about a dealership, and whether they feel it can be trusted and so on.
I’ve used some numbers in the table below for ease of getting this point across. They are purely hypothetical from my thoughts, but you’ll get the picture.
Over the past two decades or so, dealers have also had their biggest emerging competitor come along and that’s the private seller.
Don’t get me wrong, private sales have always been around.However, it was much easier to go to a dealership and look at a selection of 50 vehicles at once rather than 50 individual private vehicles all over town, before the internet came along.
So don’t treat your customers as if they’re going about their car-buying business “back in the day” because the reality is they aren’t. If you do, you will lose them to another dealer, or worse still a private seller who delivers them a better experience combined with a similar vehicle to the one you had.
Once customers visit your dealership, they are yours to win, so give them every reason to purchase from you.
In many cases it’s the smallest things that can start reducing your chances of success, so it’s important to view the experience through your customer’s eyes, accept the things you can improve and – most importantly – do something about them.
The next phase in the evolution of the customer’s buying journey will be another interesting one that we need to adapt and evolve with.
But as long as vehicles continue to be physically presented and delivered to clients at dealerships, areas such as presentation, customer service and experienced staff will play a pivotal role in your success in getting people buying from you the vehicle they came to buy.
Our dealer solutions team has tools and ideas that can help you understand your customers and your dealership’s performance.
For more details, call us on 0800-623-687 or send an email to email@example.com.
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