Customers don’t love car shopping at your dealership.

How happy are your customers? Possibly not as happy as you think.

According to AutoTrader’s Car Buyer of the Future Study, released on March 31, 2015, only 17 people out of the 4,002 surveyed prefer the current car-buying process. That’s less that 1%.

But what does that mean for you and your dealership if over 99% of your customers do not prefer the way they have to purchase or lease a vehicle from you? Luckily, consumers still want a dealership experience — they just want it to change:

First things first, make sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing. Studies show that 42% of car buyers use multiple devices to conduct their online research prior to purchase.¹ Furthermore, recent studies indicate that by 2020, up to 80% of shoppers will do so.²

Also important, Google will update its ranking algorithms on April 21, offering better organic search ranking for mobile-friendly sites during mobile queries. There’s no reason not to have a responsive site that renders properly across all platforms for the sake of your consumers and your business.

Next comes vehicle financing. Surprisingly, consumers don’t want to stop negotiating for their price. However, consumers do want the ability to complete more of the financing processes digitally at their convenience, and they want to be able to start negotiating on their own terms after conducting their own research, sometimes anonymously until a deal has been finalized.

Lastly, test-drives still play an important role for consumers when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. According to AutoTrader, 88% of consumers said they would not purchase a vehicle without test-driving it. Surprisingly, though, 81% said they want the test-drive method to change.

Consumers seek more personal, less restricted methods for test-driving a vehicle. Put simply, they want to do it on their own time and on their own terms, without a sales person in the passenger seat, pressuring them to purchase that day.

That being said, consumers still value your sales staff. They want a dealership experience where they can learn about available vehicles and purchase options without the pressure to buy on the spot. That means, your sales staff should be trained to educate and accommodate your customers, rather than just pushing and negotiating.

With all of these changes — some major, some minor — you’re probably wondering what kind of return you’ll see.

According to the study, three possible outcomes may occur. First, 66% of buyers prefer a positive dealership experience to the lowest possible price, making it important to provide that experience. Also, making these changes could encourage as high as 72% of customers to visit car dealerships more often. And, finally, 53% of customers would consider buying a vehicle more often.

So what’s stopping you?

1* 2015 Automotive Buyer Influence Study.
2** Autotrader forecast, 2015.


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