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There’s not a dealership around that hasn’t noticed the changes today’s consumers have brought to the marketplace. The differences between shopping trends of the past and the way people want to do business today can be seen and felt on the showroom floor and the lot in every dealership across the country. And along with these changes, there are opportunities for dealerships when it comes to reaching shoppers and engaging them. It comes down to meeting consumers where they are, providing quality customer service that recognizes modern marketplace needs, and improving sales techniques to ensure professionals are giving customers the right kind of attention.
Consumers have started a fire in the marketplace. They have created changes that businesses must keep up with in order to survive. Today’s consumers demand more efficiency, more knowledge, and more authenticity—all while seeking the best prices. When it comes to car dealerships, consumers are changing the way they are buying cars, and dealerships must make changes to accommodate for this or risk being left behind. Without changing to meet consumers with the information and customer service they are looking for, dealerships will lose out when it comes to sales and repeat business.
One of the biggest and most noticeable trends is that fewer shoppers are visiting dealerships.You’ve probably noticed less foot traffic in your dealership, and while you’re still selling cars, it may be difficult to understand this latest phenomenon. According to Hans-Werner Kaas of McKinsey & Company, “This is the most dramatic change we’ve seen in the auto industry and how people buy cars in the last 50 years.” The McKinsey & Company study looked at patterns at dealerships around the world, and it confirmed this change is due to the fact that car buyers are doing a lot more of their own online research, which allows them to spend less time at dealerships. Just 10 years ago, the average buyer visited 5 dealerships, whereas now the average buyer visits only 1.6 dealerships—cutting down their facetime with in-house salespeople.
What does this mean for you? This means your dealership will have to be more prepared than ever when potential buyers walk through the door. Your salespeople will need to be customer-oriented, ready to help, and prepared with informative product details that consumers will find integral to their shopping experience. Since potential buyers are walking into your dealership more educated than ever before about the products and services you offer, you’ll need to be prepared to answer their informed questions and be ready to respond when they raise concerns or need clarification.
Shoppers are also looking for ways to save time. Once they have decided to buy a vehicle, they are looking for ways to fit the complicated process of purchasing into their busy lives. This means they’ll be looking for dealerships that are offering ways to streamline the process, making it quicker and more buyer-friendly. It’s no surprise consumers are in a hurry; after all, we live in a rushed world where we want to have everything completed yesterday. But take a moment to really think about the aversion shoppers have to car shopping. According to a recent Accenture survey of 10,000 consumers, 75% said they would like to complete their entire car-buying experience online. From financing, price negotations, and paperwork—up to home delivery of their new vehicle—most said they would prefer to avoid the dealership experience altogether. An additional Autotrader study confirmed this finding by citing only 17 consumers out of a total of 4,002 polled stated they like the buying process as it currently exists. They went on to confirm they would like to see significant changes in the vehicle purchasing process in order to benefit consumers.
Your dealership has options to make the experience more appealing to shoppers. Consider looking to examples like that being set by Scion, offering customers the option of being able to purchase a vehicle in less than two hours; or Toyota, a brand that is attempting to make buying a vehicle “Feel More Like Buying an iPad.” Additionally, AutoNation dealerships in Florida are going even further, offering customers the opportunity to purchase a vehicle in 30 minutes or less—about the time it takes to get a pizza delivered—by allowing them to do a hefty portion of paperwork and browsing online.
While your dealership may not be able to offer a 30-minutes-or-less delivery time, there are ways you can streamline the process for today’s shoppers and make your dealership a more desirable destination. Check out some of the tips below to get you on the right path toward keeping the fire going for your customers:
It’s clear consumers are changing and the marketplace is along for the ride. Automotive dealerships that are able to change alongside their consumers and offer the best deals, the most efficient service, and the most attentive professionals will be the ones to stand out and thrive. It’s time to take a look at the tools you have to support the professionals in your dealership as well as the strategies you’ve set forth to meet consumers in a mobile marketplace. With fewer people setting foot in your dealership and with more demands being placed on your staff when shoppers are onsite, it’s essential you have what you need to let shoppers know you’re the dealership for them.