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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Joe Orr

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Why Can’t A Customer Have 1-Hour Car Deal?

9d8c023552e0951d0919adbf16aadfc7.jpg?t=1An article published on Wards Auto shared some interesting views from a recent session at the Automotive Customer Centricity Summit. The article stated that John Finkel, director-client experience and training for Nissan’s luxury unit, Infiniti, does not believe that a 1-hour car deal is good for customers. In fact, he feels that customers don’t even want it. He stated on a panel at the summit that 3.1 hours was the “peak efficiency rate” and Infiniti’s desired transaction time. Infiniti stores currently average an aggregated 4.6 hours. Another dealer panelist indicated that his dealership’s goal was between 2 or 3 hours, with 1 hour being “an impossible dream.” The panel claimed that the trend towards faster transaction times is spurred by Millennials, but that it is a bad idea. The panel even went so far as to compare a “dealership hurrying shoppers is like a restaurant rushing patrons” and that “neither group of consumers likes that.” 
 

Studies have shown that consumers do not like the time it currently takes to purchase a vehicle. Nor do they like the process involved. In the panel session, Finkel claimed that “customers want salespeople spending time with them.” I’m not too sure about that. I cannot think of many times when I had to usher a customer out of the building because they were enjoying spending time with their salespeople.  In fact, in many cases, customers rush salespeople through the delivery process simply to leave faster. The reality is that every customer is different. Are there customers who want to spend time at the dealership kicking tires, test driving cars and negotiating price? Sure. But most consumers simply don’t have time to do that. They want a quick and efficient buying process. Consumers love to buy new cars… they just don’t like to buy them. That sounds like an oxymoron, but when you think about it, it really isn’t.

 

It’s been shown time and again that, in most cases, consumers tend to distrust the dealer. A lot of this distrust is perhaps because the sales process we have had for decades hasn’t evolved with the times. Consumers are making buying decisions online which they wish to quickly execute. Amazon has made the buying process so easy that now you can order a “dash” button for your washing machine and order detergent simply by pushing this button… no need to even go online anymore. I believe the evidence is there that consumers DO want a faster, friendlier and more transparent car buying processes. Poor customer experience, lack of transparency and long transaction times are consist complaints on every customer survey and study that is published.

 

Personally, I think that a 1 hour deal is possible for used. But, due to the new car delivery, 1.5 hours should be the goal.  The bottom line is that everyone has different ways they want to do things and it is important to offer experiences for each type of buyer. If a customer wants to come in, spend hours at the dealership chatting it up with the salesperson, as Finkel suggests, then great. But if they don’t have time to spend all day at the dealership, and would rather complete the process online, and just arrive at the dealership to take delivery - why wouldn’t you offer them that option? Why not provide an “Easy Button” for the consumer?

 

The point is that It isn't necessarily that the customer wants to spend less time at the dealership- they don't want to be 'hurried'- they just don't want the time to be spent haggling, feeling frustrated and stressed.  They want an easy and fun buying process. Allowing the customer to do the hard part from home means that however much time THEY choose to spend at the dealership is up to them.  My guess is that they won't be exhausted by the time they get delivery and they will have a much better time of it- maybe spend more time touring the service department and on delivery- leaving much more satisfied and happy...more likely to remain loyal --  Just a theory at this point.

 

Today’s consumer is busy. They don’t have time to spend the whole day at a dealership. They’re also tired of the traditional vehicle sales process. Enabling consumers to buy a car in their pajamas, online, from the luxury of their own home, on their terms, from start to finish, is where our industry is headed. In the end, all that matters is that they purchase a vehicle and are happy with their experience. After that, everything else will take care of itself. 

 

David Ruggles
Millennials can speed things up by not having negative equity, not having a sub prime credit score, and by getting over themselves. Having access to a lot of info and being able to interpret it are two different things. Remember folks, the objective isn't to sell cars, it is to produce gross profit. A kiosk and a blind dog with a note in its mouth can sell a car. But to make profit? It might take a little more time. Anyone who wants to make their customers happier by giving up gross profit, feel free to do so. Because that's your choice. In the meantime, the professionals will continue winning over consumers one at a time, and making gross profit in the doing. Maybe I'd should correct myself here. It IS possible to do 1 hour average deals IF you send all of your difficult customers DDR to your competitor. Yup, you can send those 620 beacon, 3500 negative equity folks with unrealistic expectations DDR. Cherry pick the quick ones, and you can brag about your average deal time on your way to insolvency.
Chris K Leslie
David, How we all would like to sell things certainly doesn't want to change. The problem is though is that people want to buy things differently. I need to see this blind, note toting, kiosk dog. Do you have to pay them money? or do you get to keep those dollars you would have paid a person?
Scott Carasik
If we weren't saddled with a ton of student loan debt, we might have better credit scores, Ruggles. Don't bash a whole generation that you obviously don't know how to relate to.
David Ruggles
RE: "Enabling consumers to buy a car in their pajamas, online, from the luxury of their own home, on their terms, from start to finish, is where our industry is headed." They already can, just not on their own terms. Why should adapting to consumers' "terms" be important to us? They don't understand our business. We already hear their terms on a daily basis. They want us to eat their negative equity. They want us to fit our car into their budget. They want us to skip steps and hurry up. Consumers need to adapt to the terms of reality, and we get to help them do it, AT A PROFIT.
Cory Craver
I agree wholeheartedly! These are the customers that I have the most success with. It's a running joke in our showroom that I am the "Internet Manager" because my guests usually don't spend much time in the showroom. Most of my customer interaction is via email or text. I close deals on the phone, through email or text on a regular basis. We have a new manager who didn't want to desk numbers for me when because my guests were not in the showroom, I explained to him that I have great success with phone-ups and internet leads when all our other salesmen claim those are dead ends because they are simply "shopping numbers". He asked me why I think I'm successful, my answer... "I have only been in this business for 1 year so I don't have it ingrained in my mind that the customer must be in front of me to close the deal". I frequently get customers that say "I had no idea I could buy a car this way!" or "I drove to see you because you gave me the information I asked for over the phone without insisting that I come into the dealership first". This is the way the industry is headed. If you don't sell the way the customer wants to buy they will go elsewhere. Always remembering that customers love to buy but hate to be sold.

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