According to an article in Money, out of the 10,000 respondents to an Accenture survey, 75%, if given the choice of coming into the dealership to purchase a car or doing it online, would take the internet route. Although the study didn't specifically delve into the reasons for this, a smaller survey, Autotrader polled 4,002 individuals and found that only 17 said they like the dealership experience. The overwhelming majority view the face-to-face encounter as confusing, high pressure, and when they take into account, the time spent selecting a car, negotiating a price, deciding on financing, and dealing with all the paperwork, way too long and too important to be done in one sitting.
So What Would They Change?
Of those who like the idea of buying from home, 56% would like to at least start negotiating online, rather than surrounded by salespeople, and 45% of these would like to remain anonymous until they have structured a deal.
Even more, 72% favor completing the credit application and financing paperwork online not only to save time but to give them time to go over the fine print at their leisure, rather than on the finance person's dime.
What Would it Mean for the Dealership
Although more and more dealerships are offering online options, they are not overly keen to throw in the towel on their brick and mortar operations. First of all, going 100% internet would put their sales staff out of work, some of them longtime employees. It would also lower profit margins, not only for the dealers themselves but for the auto manufacturers as well.
What Would it Mean for the Car Buyer
Lost in the debate is the value of coming into the dealership so one can get a feel for the car, sit in it, see how much it can hold, take it for a test drive. After all, a car is a major purchase, and qualified sales people can answer questions, and once they know the purchaser's specific needs, steer him in the right direction.
Hiring the right type of people and providing them with automotive management training in ways that inspire confidence and trust is perhaps the most important responsibilities a sales manager has.