Dealers today are focused on how they can drive more and more traffic to their showroom. They want to know how to push vehicle shoppers from their couch to the lot through direct mail, email, digital advertisements, and more.

But part of the problem of showroom traffic has to be solved at the dealership itself. It’s the one aspect of vehicle sales that tends to be overlooked.

Consider the shopper’s experience once they reach your lot. You’ve gotten them to your dealership and they’re interested in buying a vehicle, but what will convince them to buy and what will convince them to come back as a recurring customer?

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Shoppers today know that they have plenty of options. If your dealership doesn’t fit into their purchase decision, they can leave and go somewhere else. In fact, they’re probably researching other dealerships while they’re on your lot.1

Understanding what motivates your customer in the car buying process can help your dealership adjust your automotive marketing strategy to keep that customer engaged in the process from the moment they arrive to after the sale is finalized.

1.      They Don’t Trust Dealerships in General

Dealerships have lost the trust of vehicle shoppers. This can be because of the “sleazy salesman mentality” or because of tricky and/or misleading marketing tactics.2 It’s a difficult mentality to overcome!

Dealers like you are having to overcome years of prejudice in order to gain shoppers’ trust and build a loyal customer base.

The good news is that shopper’s perceptions are already negative so it’s not hard to provide a more positive experience than they’re expecting.

The bad news is that they’ve been conditioned to distrust dealerships, while you can easily provide a better experience than they might be expecting, you’ll need to work hard to overcome their negative perceptions and gain their trust for the next time they’re ready to purchase a vehicle.

2.      They Get Confused

They’ve done their research, compared vehicles, chosen a vehicle they’re excited about, at a price they think they can afford, and now they’ve finally stopped by a dealership to (hopefully) purchase that vehicle. They’re excited that today might be the day that they drive away in the vehicle they’ve been thinking about for several months now.

But wait, the salesman is rattling off information they didn’t know or even ask! They’re confused as vehicles are compared and payments/prices are thrown out. The process is becoming more and more complicated – and not informative.

The information they’ve already spent months comparing and contrasting online is being thrown around in loose terms and they’re not sure what to think.

Though they’re excited about the possibility of finding their next vehicle and taking it for a test drive, the process between arriving at the dealership and taking the vehicle they’ve already decided they wanted to purchase for a test drive is one of the most frustrating parts of the dealership process for shoppers.3

Vehicle shoppers sited this as a major down point in their shopping experience.

3.      The Purchase Process Takes Too Long

Thirdly, and most importantly, vehicle buyers are least satisfied with the long purchase process they experience at dealerships. This is a part of the reason why shoppers spend the majority of their shopping time online – they’re hoping to shorten the buying process as much as possible.4

This process, which takes an average of three hours, received less than a 50 percent satisfaction rate from buyers.

The excitement of purchasing a new vehicle is blurred by the length of the process, which could lead to a reluctance to purchase another vehicle at your dealership or any dealership.

4.      The F&I Department is Boring

On a scale of 1-10, 79 percent of car buyers rated the test-driving experience an 8 to 10 rating. But, their satisfaction declined once asked about their experience with the F&I department. Like I said before, the average buyer spends roughly three hours at the dealership during the purchase process – but half of that time is spent negotiating or doing paperwork. Buyers find this boring.

Why? Because they’re sitting in an office, far away from their new vehicle that they can’t wait to drive away in. All while they’re being bombarded with paperwork, upgrades, payment plans, and more. They’re already spending a significant amount of money and this process only makes the pressure of the expense worse.

During this process, buyers revealed that they felt an increase in frustration, confusion, and disappointment.

So, What Can Your Dealership Do?

When the customer experience does not meet expectations, then it’s up to you to solve that problem. By understanding what they’re unhappy with about the dealership experience, you’ll be able to address these issues and solve them!

You can enhance how your customers shop by helping them find ways to interact with your dealership outside of your dealership. If they can compare vehicles, prices, and payments online, from the comfort of their own homes, you’ll help give them some of the information they want to have ahead of time – plus you’ll be able to increase their trust in you and your sales team by providing them with the information they want up-front.

By being openly transparent about your inventory, pricing, incentives, and more, you’ll create an open and honest face for your dealership. Plus, this will shorten their time at your dealership because they’ll already have all the information they need up front. Your sales team won’t feel the need to rattle off vehicle comparisons, prices, payment plans, and more, because your customers will already know everything they have to tell them! And, if you can find a way to help your customers complete some of the F&I work online, you’ll increase customer satisfaction even more.

Remember, finding solutions for your customer’s problems has to be part of your marketing strategy. Your dealership has to utilize the technology and strategies available to be able to enhance a customer’s shopping experience and reduce the anxiety associated with certain aspects of the process. This will increase your showroom traffic!


  4. 2017 Car Buyer Journey