Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders
The fact that the question of to price or not to price is still being asked in ADM and other similarly worded forums to this one in networking sites like LinkedIn suggests that many of us still don't get it! The answer was hidden in the first line of this post and all of the comments afterwards simply confirmed the obvious.
"Every contributing member of ADM knows the answer - or they should; of course we need to give the customer the price. The real question is when, what and how!"
The internet empowered customers to access information - including price - which had previously been under the control of the dealership. Once we relinquished control of this critical piece of information we were obligated to explain how we arrived at our own supposedly competitive price to differentiate our dealership from the next one with a supposedly lower price. That, or we could all race to the bottom and reduce profits to unsustainable levels which would not benefit anyone after we all went out of business. After all, who would be left to service the vehicles we sold?
Of course we can try to explain how we have nicer sales people, better after sale service, more community support and other less tangible evidence to differentiate our dealership from the one's who provided loss leader pricing to get people offline and into their dealerships but you have to open a dialogue before you can add these elements to the discussion. If the price filters you out of their online search then all of the promised added value will never be heard.
If pressed to provide a specific answer to the price question from the dealer's perspective my answer would be to approach it from the customers view. Provide a transparent process that includes vin-specific price as well as other information that the customer may not otherwise have expected to need to make a buying decsion. Interest and lease terms, rates and payments, realistic trade-in values, comparable vehicles and trim levels to the one initially selected, projected vehicle ownership costs, specific unique dealer provided services such as loaner vehicles, included dealer warranties, etc.
Of course people and personality are also a consideration so providing this information in a conversational vs. a presentational mode will also cut through the clutter and promote a relationship vs. a sale. The UI of your website and consistency of your messages across all media - including the delivery on the showroom - must be customer friendly if you hope to overcome many price objections; real or imagined.
Want to lose me as a customer in record time? And be aware that I was a car buying customer for many decades before I worked in the industry........ DON'T TELL ME THE PRICE UPFRONT........I'M GONE in a New York minute. Want me to disappear even faster than a New York minute? Tell me this is your SPECIAL INTERNET PRICE. WTH? That means if I come into the dealership, the price changes?
TRANSPARENCY and HONESTY are my two requirements for a vehicle purchase, followed by.......... *NOW*!
Of course, dealers are at a disadvantage if they get their inventory listed on sites such as CarGurus who will tell the customer if you are over or under priced! Damn their ethics and they claim to work "for" the dealer?! Not to worry about such entities......the majority of your customers have never heard of the Gurus.
Synopsis........PRICE YOUR INVENTORY and have an engaging enough personality that your customers will come in and either pay it or take on the challenge of negotiation.
Now.......WHAT WAS your question, Philip? ;)
Thanks, Philip........Since the original question was posted in '08, it's obvious that dealerships are more educated and are being 'forced' to work smarter with the huge and all-powerful threat, if you will, of the internet looming over their heads. What we could get away with 5 years ago, exists no longer. Consumers have also become more educated and demanding as is their right. We work for them; they don't work for us.