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Automotive Retailing Insights: First Contact with Dealerships More Important Than Ever; Study Finds 75% of Consumers Who Contact Dealerships Plan to Buy Within Three Weeks
Pandemic has changed how consumers buy cars; they do more research up front and contact fewer dealers when ready to buy, according to
The study, titled “Trust, Transparency and the Transaction,” finds that one of the most important keys to establishing trust is being prepared to give consumers an out-the-door price on their vehicle of choice during the first conversation.
- 97% of consumers interviewed say they are somewhat or very serious about buying when they contact a dealer.
- 75% anticipate purchasing within three weeks of contact. Nearly 40% plan to do so within a week or less.
- 91% say trust in a salesperson or dealership is very or somewhat important in choosing who to buy from. This is equal to competitive price as a consideration and more important than lowest price.
- 39% of consumers use a phone to call or text a dealer to make initial contact, making the phone the leading channel for consumer outreach, far outpacing any other form of initial contact, including walk-ins, email, or chat.
- 71% report visiting fewer showrooms than before the pandemic. The pandemic has caused consumers to spend more time researching options online and by phone before fully engaging a dealership.
- 82% want to know how a dealership is addressing customer protection and safety during the buying process and pandemic. Specifically, consumers are interested in how often a dealership itself is sanitized as well as the cars on the lot.
A summary of the study is available here.
A NEW NORMAL FOR DEALERSHIPS
“The process of buying cars has changed profoundly during the past year. Pre-pandemic, dealerships were hesitant to discuss price before the customer came into their showrooms. In the new normal, the initial call a consumer makes to a dealership is now the make-or-break point of a sale,” said
According to the study, consumers are looking to limit their time inside a dealership because of COVID-19, and they know exactly what they want because they have spent significant time at home researching vehicles and comparing costs before contacting dealers.
“More than ever, this means dealers need to focus on transparency—they need to be trust providers,” Muilenburg added. “From the moment the consumer calls, texts or walks in the door, the dealer must be prepared to answer questions, provide details, and educate the consumer to build that critical layer of trust. The data shows that dealers who differentiate by establishing trust with the consumer earn the right to charge a competitive price and ultimately sell more cars.”