I might love food and cooking, but even I can get a little frustrated while grocery shopping. I always spend way more time there than I initially planned, my basket usually has a few (or a lot) more things than were on my shopping list, and I hate waiting in long lines at the register. Who has time for that?
Buying a car and going grocery shopping are pretty different, but how you feel about your time as a consumer should give you an idea about how your dealership customers feel when they spend more time there than they had planned, leave with more options than they wanted and spend hours finishing the delivery process.
These days almost anything can be bought or streamed online whenever you want it. This want-it-now mentality has already translated to the car-buying world in the way people research new cars. It’s well known by now that today’s car buyers do most of their research online and typically have their choices narrowed down before they call or visit a dealership.
The way customers approach researching new cars might have changed, but J.D. Power says customers still spend an average of 4.3 hours at a dealership while purchasing a car. A recent IHS study also said that 41 percent of unhappy buyers cited the amount of time spent at a dealership as the most frustrating part of the car-buying experience.
Though Autotrader says buyers still prefer to purchase cars at a dealership rather than an online shopping cart, the process has room for improvement. Here are a couple ways you can better manage the time customers spend in your showroom.
Imagine a busy Saturday morning at your dealership. The showroom is a beehive of activity. Your sales reps are all busy with customers. What happens when a walk-in customer pulls up? Are they greeted by a receptionist? How long will it be before they can speak to a sales rep? Do you think they’ll wait or leave for another dealership?
Customers might be doing more research online before visiting dealerships, but that doesn’t mean everybody fills out a web form or places a phone call before showing up. On especially busy days, walk-ins can turn into lost leads if they’re not willing to wait for a sales rep.
To keep customers from feeling like their time is being wasted before they even start the buying process, use your marketing campaigns (both online and traditional) to encourage customers to book appointments through your website or by a phone call before they visit. This approach helps you manage your reps’ time better and serve more customers.
You can even leverage the need for appointments as proof that your dealership is busy because buyers want to do business with you. Use messaging like “Call today to secure a meeting with the best sales team in the area!” in your campaigns to hammer the point home.
Get Paperwork Settled up Front
While customers might be interested in getting in and out much quicker than the average 4.3 hours, the reality is that some parts of the process can’t be changed to reduce time. A frequent cause of lengthy delays is the time it takes for your managers and sales reps to shop interest rates for customers. Being up front with customers and explaining that one part of the process might take longer than expected can help manage their impatience.
If buyers are interested in getting a deal done quickly on a particular day, having the right paperwork in advance can help manage the overall transaction time as well. Put a checklist on your website that lists key documents that customers will need when buying a car. Having proof of insurance, a driver’s license, the title and registration for a trade-in vehicle and the account number for a trade-in’s loan all in advance can help expedite the process.
You can also let a prospective buyer know what paperwork they’ll need over the phone if they indicate they’ve made a decision and don’t want to spend hours in the showroom.
What are some ways your dealership has tried to curtail the amount of time customers spend in your showroom? Were you successful? Let me know in the comments.