As a career "Car Guy" I am often asked for my opinion on what and where family and friends should purchase or service a vehicle. For years I would refer them to my book. "How To Buy A Car - Ex Dealer Tells All" but I recently reviewed my book and I realized that consumer preferences and options as to how and where they can purchase a vehicle have changed.
Previous advice included finding a local dealer with a comprehensive service department that evidenced their priority to provide support after the sale. Additional criteria included your first impressions as to how you were treated and of course a few tips on how to extract information you needed to make a decision - such as product comparisons, competitive pricing and how to avoid dealer centric sales processes.
My current recommendation is to conduct your preliminary due dillegence online with information that is not sourced from an auto dealer or a third party website that is dealer centric vs. consumer focused. Simply put, the shopping and sales processes that used to be dealer dependent are now consumer driven through social networking communities that provide credible information from likeminded consumers and other online resources. Mobile devices and software solutions in the hands of an educated consumer can follow shoppers into a dealer's showroom empowering the customer with information more relevant and transparent than most now antiquated showroom sales processes can deliver at the point of sale given the complexity and variety found in today's vehicles.
When consulting for my vendor partners that provide technology driven sales processes for our dealer clients I remind them that today's educated consumer is the boss. The old school wisdom that "The one who writes the check is in charge" is still correct, however the reality that the first check is written by the consumer vs. the dealer has finally sunk in.
My challenge to my Dealerelite friends is to look in the mirror and decide if your marketing messages and related sales processes are as transparent as today's educated consumers demand. Sales processes based on control techniques such as those suggested in a Four Square Work Sheet and related desking procedures presume that the dealer can deliver relevant information to their customers when and how they want to vs. how and when the customer expects them; which is immediately!
My challenge includes your virtual showrooms with their now dated conversion tools that require a customer's name, address, email, phone and in some cases credit information in order to to provide relevant information vs. posting competitive product comparisons and vin specific out the door price and payment information using videos, payment calculators, convenient inventory searches and everything else that we as dealers need to make a deal in our real world showrooms. Similarly, can you look in a mirror and honestly say that you respect your showroom customers enough to allow them to be in control with your role reduced to providing them the information in such a way that you are seen as a resource vs. a competitor in an adversarial negotiation process?
Obviously, I have my opinion since I have invested in vendor partners that provide our auto dealer clients with technology driven consumer centric marketing and sales processes that include automated video production platforms, data base marketing platforms with online personalized consumer portals that empower a customer to build their own deals with OTD prices and payments prior to visiting the showroom, mobile solutions that reside on an iPad that empower sales consultants to compete with today's educated consumers on the showroom floor throughout the sales process and several other solutions designed to answer my posted question in the affirmative.
YES, I would buy a vehicle from an auto dealer that is using today's consumer centric technology driven sales and service processes to earn my business. Can you claim the same about you and yours?