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Roger Conant

Roger Conant Customer Retention Manager (service)

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Will the showroom become more of a "distribution" platform than a "sales" hub?

Twenty years ago I signed on with a very enterprising woman here in Houston who had developed a little niche program called Sunday Shopper.  That program basically stationed an agent (non-dealership personnel) on dealer's lots on Sundays(there is still a law in Texas that dealers must be closed one day a week...they usually pick Sunday).

As one of those reps, my job was to softly approach prospects who came on the lot and engage them to exchange their contact info for a scratch card offering a chance to come back and win a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $100.

On the Monday after the Sunday, I would return the list to the GSM  for follow up.

That little program provided many a "deal" for the dealer...and the "believers" paid handsomely for it (we had many of the top Houston dealers enrolled...and for a long time).

After interviewing those hundreds of Sunday Shoppers, I discovered 2 important points...(and this was 1995)

1. Many of those shoppers were in the middle of the sales funnel moving towards buying a car, and they wanted to actually see the vehicle in person...BUT THEY WANTED TO STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM THE STORE SALES PROCESS AS POSSIBLE.

2. 60% to 70% of the Sunday shoppers were WOMEN.(they wanted to stay away even more than men)

Here's my point.

bc941cde1b0cdc51340ef28f3aedd017.jpg?t=1Today...the Internet provides the car buyer with much more pre-showroom information than those Sunday Shoppers received by their lot visit...without ever having to appear at the store.

And because of that, showroom visits have been cut to 2 (the McKinsey study "Innovating Retail Automotive" study says they  visit 1.6 showrooms)

Read this attached latest piece from Google...give yourself a little time to think about it... and then answer me, if you would. (after you've taken as much of the emotion out of it as possible)

Is the showroom in danger of becoming more of a “distribution platform” than a “sales hub"?

As the Google study strongly suggests, but never comes right out and says, the Internet/social media provide just about everything that the "showroom experience" does presently. Just about...

And if my take is correct, it won't be long before the "particulars" of the last great "showroom" mystery, Finance and Insurance, will be showing up on the net too.  Consumers are already demanding it!

Check out these "moments of truth" below Google mentions and then answer this second question.  Do they necessarily have to be performed by a physical visit to the showroom?

Which-car-is-best moments

Is-it-right-for-me moments

Can-I-afford-it moments

Where-should-I-buy-it moments

Am-I-getting-a-deal moments

Chris K Leslie
I would say that we are already at that point. Which I don't think is a bad thing. Reason being is that the fight shouldn't be with the other chevy dealer across town as much as that fight should be the other make across the street. There isn't enough partnering happening by the same makes in a market. We all know the reason that is. But I would argue that fighting over a tiny percent of an already small percent is stupid. We should collectively try and garner more in market shoppers to purchase our brand. Does it really matter the store they buy at in the larger scheme of things? Not really as long as we get them into our camp things will work themselves out. But, the undercutting that goes on between dealers of the same brand is crazy making.
Roger Conant
Thanks for the good comment, Chris!

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