Consumers want to love the car buying experience just as much as the vehicle they’re purchasing. There is no sacrificing one for the other. Transparency is crucial in making the experience worthy of their trust, their confidence and, ultimately, their business.
However, newly released data tells us that there is an alarming disconnect between dealer perception and consumer reality. A resounding 81 percent of dealers think consumers enjoy the car buying process. What you may find alarming is a mere 19 percent of consumers who purchased a vehicle in the last 12 months say they actually enjoyed the process.
This information shines light on the processes and technologies that are most impactful to car buyers and, in turn, dealer business. Consumers cite lack of trust in salespeople as the No. 1 reason they don’t enjoy the car buying process (at 29 percent). The amount of time the car buying process takes is also a concern for consumers (19 percent) but is rated as dealers’ No. 1 area for improvement (32 percent). Solutions exist to address both consumers’ apprehension of salespeople and a dealer’s desire to speed things up.
Transparency Builds Trust
According to J.D. Power, the use of technology — specifically the use of tablets during the payment presentation process — dramatically improves customer satisfaction ratings. Tablet devices rate more than a whole point higher in positive satisfaction rating over verbal quotes and handwritten figures. Bottom line: Mobile technology promotes transparency and increases consumer trust.
Using a mobile device during the negotiation allows the salesperson to work a deal with the desk manager and present payment options to the customer. Confidence isn’t sacrificed in favor of customer-isolating desking conversations behind closed doors. Furthermore, apps such as mobile driver’s license scanner and mobile CRM allow salespeople to quickly add customer details and update sales status on the fly. Everybody wins.
Dealers have not fully embraced mobile technology, deferring to desktop solutions. A recent three-month sample showed 466,000 of sales opportunities were created on mobile apps versus 5.1 million created on desktop. Taken in harmony with customer preference, a great opportunity awaits the tech-savvy dealership using mobile technology to differentiate itself from its competition.
Last year, we forecasted an impending industry slowdown. Even though automotive continues to prosper, the numbers bear out the trends we predicted. J.D. Power has corroborated our findings in its latest industry metrics:
- “Days to turn” is increasing; thus, cars are taking longer to move off the lot.
- Front-end gross is decreasing while back-end gross is increasing.
- Return on investment is down.
- Loan terms are getting longer.
It is in dealers’ best interest to heed to the data and move ahead of the curve before trends turn into a not-so-rosy reality.