It’s no secret how much COVID-19 changed the automotive business. Many dealerships were shut down for months on end and others had such restrictive business practices that made it difficult to function. We’re now in a post-Covid world, and many things have changed within the automotive industry. While it’s still unclear as to whether these trends are here to stay, they have changed the face of the industry.
First to emerge as a trend was the idea of contactless test drives. For many dealerships, it was necessary to accompany the customer as they took a potential vehicle out on the road. However, as dealerships rebounded after COVID, they found this practice less necessary than originally thought. These days a dealership simply obtains some vital information, copies the driver’s license, and sends the customer on their way. Certainly, the companion test drive had its merits, but the future of test drives could be contact-free.
Another trend we are seeing of late is increased telephone and internet sales traffic. More customers are doing their research on the phone and internet rather than in the store. Before the pandemic, people were still keen on the idea of traveling to their local dealership of interest and checking out all the vehicles they were considering. These days, many of those customers are completing that part of the process on the dealership or manufacturer websites.
While a trade deal used to be conducted predominately in person, we are seeing more trades being conducted via text message photos, and emails. A customer is taking photos, supplying the VIN, and then receiving a number from the dealership regarding the trade-in price. This kind of deal was once unheard of, as mechanical defects are not detectable via photos. Certainly, this kind of issue can be seen once the vehicle is in the presence of a service technician, but at that point, the customer is already expecting a certain price for their trade.
The biggest change, post-pandemic, is the number of deals that are being completed without the customer even stepping foot inside the dealership. The customers are using the website to apply for financing, value their trades, and even purchasing the vehicle. They discuss all the details of the deal with the salesperson via the phone and internet and are then able to complete the deal.
The final trend that has emerged since the pandemic ended is the amount of out of state customers. As inventory dips lower and lower, customers are forced to find their ideal vehicle elsewhere. As they shop around, they are finding their chosen car, truck, or SUV in other states. As a result of this, many dealerships are doing more delivery business than ever before.
Who can say if these trends are here to stay or if they are just passing fads? The real question: is your sales team equipped to handle an actual customer from the initial inquiry over the phone/internet to the time they take delivery. If you must think about the answer to this question, you need Phone Ninjas. Our customized training with personalized coaching can help to increase your dealership’s appointment set rate by up to 80%!