Today I wanted to share with you some thoughts about how to exceed in the trade-in process.

As the automotive industry is in turmoil, now more than ever, it's crucial to be on top of your game.

Some stats about the current situation: 

92% of auto purchasers research online. (ThinkWithGoogle, 2020)

“In our Harris Poll and again and again, we’ve learned that the consumer does want to go to the store to look at the car or truck they’re buying, drive it and compare it to a few other vehicles on hand, but that’s about it.”  -Jeff Dyke (President and director of Sonic Automotive)

“When customers walk into a dealership, they have a clear expectation of how long it should take to close a transaction, and it’s about an hour.”  -Jody Stidham (Managing Director at Deloitte)

Now, to the point!

What are the modern customer expectations with online transactions:

  • To get a personalized and efficient experience.
  • Sellers facilitate buyers’ journeys while staying out of the way.

Let's dive deeper...

What is the current situation in Trade-In?

Compared to other industries the customer experience level for the trade-in process is lagging. Some even say that the trade-in process is perhaps the single worst aspect of the automotive customer experience. (representing everything that the industry is doing wrong)


  • We Sell, Instead of Letting People Buy 
  • We use technology to generate low-value leads. (harvesting phone numbers and dialing for dollars)

Even though oftentimes, the trade-in value determines whether or not the customer can transact or not, many dealerships continue to view the trade-in as a place to earn an extra buck.
Instead of seeing it as the starting point of a new/pre-owned car sale.

Online valuation tools (like KBB, BlackBook, etc) give customers unrealistic expectation that puts them at odds with the seller. 

They use artificial intelligence to assign a value to any vehicle while ignoring two universal truths:

1) Every used car is as unique as the person driving it, and
2) A used car is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. 

Plus we’ve allowed technology to replace human interaction at a point where customized, personalized interactions are necessary.

After customers have submitted their contact information online they expect to be swamped with phone calls and emails from numerous dealers. Who then will
 grind them relentlessly until they agree to a showroom visit.

While knowing that they'll get a trade-in offer that’s lower than the initial quote.

They also expect to spend hours in the dealership undergoing unpleasant negotiations. 

And as a result... consumers don’t trust car dealers!

While more than half of all new and used car purchases involve a trade-in a 2018 Black Book study revealed that a trade-in value far below the buyer’s expectations is the second-most likely factory to kill a retail deal.

So the goal of a Trade-In process that would exceed customer expectations should be... 
To create a process according to the wants and needs of all stakeholders. (From the living room to the board room)

But again why exceeding customer expectations in the Trade-In is crucial?

Because data shows that researching trade-in value is the most frequent activity automotive consumers do while shopping online. And the trade-in process is at the forefront of the buying journey. (consumers begin to calculate their trade-in value at the very top of the funnel)

You never get a second chance to make a first impression!

But what is the Solution?

First, our job is to prepare the customer for the trade-in process as precisely as possible.
Providing them the useful information and setting realistic expectations. (whether this is in an ad, on a landing page, or on the site)

We need to give them a clear timeframe for how long it will take them to get an offer.

Then comes one of the most crucial parts of the whole process... collecting information!

Using generic lead forms that harvest name, phone, and/or email for only lead generation purposes is a mistake.

Instead, we should be focusing spending our time on nurturing relationships with perhaps a bit smaller quantity but on higher quality/intent leads.

In Caroom we've developed a seamless (mobile)experience where the customer inserts his/her contact details, does a 360 shot, inserts additional and relevant (high-quality)pictures, and gives all the information about the current condition of his/her vehicle. All done remotely!

This way we can gather all the information that an appraiser would need to make a firm offer and a salesperson to contact the customer.

After you've received the information about the trade-in (the report), open the dialogue as soon as possible. 

When the car has been appraised the salesperson should give the customer a call and have a genuine conversation about their wants and needs.

Imagine for a sec now...
How much more qualified would a lead be (and better the overall customer experience) if the customer knows that the salesperson:

  1. Already knows his/her specific needs,
  2. Understand the unique situation,
  3. They've discussed all of the details openly, and
  4. The customer has received a personalized buying journey - before they ever set foot in your showroom! 

After the customer has visited the showroom (or if possible while still there) present the customer a concrete, reliable offer with clearly defined disclaimers.

If for any reason there was a need for a technical inspection and there were findings, then again, involve the customer in the process. Educate him/her about the factors that have impacted the offer.

And finally... Close the deal!

Directing customers to use a technology like Caroom, will:

  1. Provide a seamless extension of your showroom.
  2. Allows you to get the necessary information about the trade-in.
  3. Connects potential buyers with real people.
  4. Significantly decreases the amount of time that the customers have to spend in the dealership.
  5. And last but not least, it will help you to create a stellar first impression which begins building trust.

To learn more about Caroom and its capabilities connect me at

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