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An 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.