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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
online purchasing trends
I wonder if dealerships will survive (nothing to to with Covid - 19). Not only is the trend to purchase online but to have information from an "expert" not a sales rep. In addition there is the increased talk of legislation allowing for ordering direct and going around the dealer. Will the dealerships be willing and able to transform themselves?

There will inevitably be dealers that manage technology well and those that do not. Poorly managed technology interfaces can be at least as annoying as the finance rep's pressure sales pitch and may ultimately turn a customer relationship into "head for the hills". I have already experienced dealerships that have a wide range of effective to ineffective service appointment interfaces. I have also experienced a dealership that sends me a video of the entire multi-point inspection being done with audio notes from the "inspector".

What would you like from your future auto dealer?
 

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Tesla has the right idea. Better off to eliminate the independent dealers and deal directly with the Manufacturer. Can't see that happening in the US any time soon though. Auto dealers are a powerful lobby.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Tesla has the right idea. Better off to eliminate the independent dealers and deal directly with the Manufacturer. Can't see that happening in the US any time soon though. Auto dealers are a powerful lobby.
It is my understanding they do not make much on the actual sale, so maybe they should consider offering a different type of service in addition to repairs.
 

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At some point, as we transition away from internal combustion engines, cars will need less frequent (although not necessarily less complex) service and mainteance, I'm wondering if manufacturers will want to take more control over things such as sales and service, to maintain their revenue stream, at the expense of their distributors ( IE dealerships)....
As the need for $60-110 oil changes, and other consumables, is reduced, will dealerships or manufacturers make up for it by charging more for other components? Will they employ fewer service technicians? There's a whole trickle effect we haven't really considered at this point as forms other than ICE's (and over the air updates, versus going to the service center for a reflash, further reducing the need for dealership visits), become more prevalent in the Auto industry.
We could look at Tesla for rough guidance regarding some of these issues.
And what about auto body repair, will there be less of that because there are fewer accidents with more autonomous functions standard in vehicles? Will our insurance go down as these features hopefully reduce traffic accidents? Do we, or the manufacturers, take liability when an accident occurs? if the manufacturers take liability for insurance, is that built into the purchase price, or will that be a monthly additional fee we pay to the manufacturer?
These are all factors, that could seriously impact the labor force over the next several decades. Especially considering these are generally well paying ( car sales, service technicians, Auto body technicians, insurance) occupations, that likely employ millions across the u.s. .
 

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Since 2009 I have not negotiated a sale in any dealer. It's always been all setup online via email, with just a double check of the trade-in before signing the papers.

I actually bought my 2009 WRX from Tucson and had the deal set up before I drove down there from Phoenix. Gave over the trade-in, signed and drove home 1 hr later.

The Tesla my fiancee bought was the easiest.... bought online and just go drop off trade-in and sign loan. No extra "financing guy" to deal with either. Though I've always told them I don't need any of it, and if they want to try and talk me in to an extended warranty, then the car must not be reliable so I won't buy it. That shuts them up and we just get on with the actual signing.
 

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I believe that Internet sales has been and will continue to play a growing roll in vehicle buying and while some 'old school' dealers may scoff at losing the ability to pigeon-hole a customer in the traditional showroom experience, which can be pretty high pressure--and a game they love to play, there are many dealership operations who have actually increased their sales performance through embracing the Internet and doing things like moving staff to salaried positions where they can actually eat during tougher weeks. (That's how my dealer network moved awhile ago and it's paid off...they are strong and growing) I honestly see the addition of new services like valeted test drives, financial closings and vehicle drop off currently being leveraged in areas where vehicle sales are still permitted during the pandemic as something that will grow. Ask most buyers about what they hate about the vehicle buying process and in addition to the "finance walk of drudgery", it's the showroom experience of either high pressure or "hurry up and wait". (My dealer still needs to deal with both the finance and the process delay thing for sure)

Direct sales to consumers is a tougher row to hoe because it gets in to legal challenges. Tesla has had a lot of fun with that because of how state laws are in most places.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I believe that Internet sales has been and will continue to play a growing roll in vehicle buying and while some 'old school' dealers may scoff at losing the ability to pigeon-hole a customer in the traditional showroom experience, which can be pretty high pressure--and a game they love to play, there are many dealership operations who have actually increased their sales performance through embracing the Internet and doing things like moving staff to salaried positions where they can actually eat during tougher weeks. (That's how my dealer network moved awhile ago and it's paid off...they are strong and growing) I honestly see the addition of new services like valeted test drives, financial closings and vehicle drop off currently being leveraged in areas where vehicle sales are still permitted during the pandemic as something that will grow. Ask most buyers about what they hate about the vehicle buying process and in addition to the "finance walk of drudgery", it's the showroom experience of either high pressure or "hurry up and wait". (My dealer still needs to deal with both the finance and the process delay thing for sure)

Direct sales to consumers is a tougher row to hoe because it gets in to legal challenges. Tesla has had a lot of fun with that because of how state laws are in most places.
I agree with your statements above and would add that sales folks who are especially operating digitally need to grow their knowledge of each vehicle. As technical information continues to become readily accessible to most everyone, the sales staff needs to be prepared to meet those type of customers head on. While it is true that there still are those customers who are not interested in the weeds they may still be interested in details of packages and how well a feature operates. I find that there are some sales staff (and some service reps) that are less familiar than those on this forum with the Ascent. It has always been a real turnoff to me to have a sales or service rep interaction in which they try and finagle around not knowing some detail. I would rather they be subject matter experts or at least be upfront and just say they do not know and then go and find the answer. If I am researching a vehicle on-line and then getting prepared to order a vehicle through the dealer, that sales person better know their facts at least as well as me. If they encounter a buyer that simply wants a big blue Subaru, then certainly they do not have to get into the weeds with that customer, but they need to be even more prepared to do so with the customers that wish to do so. IMO dealerships should set up their sales force with at least one model expert for each model in their shop so that the sales person can get an answer or even pass the customer on to that model salesperson (obviously the traditional compensation mechanisms would need adjustment). Those "experts" better be familiar with the forums, since it will be increasingly likely the customer has visited them and has already developed questions, concerns and certain preconceived notions about various models.

The dealerships that go above and beyond what the manufacturer offers in terms of information will do well. An example would be how Groove Subaru has managed their instructional videos. Consider sales video offering for customers or Digital Air Strike technology. If the videos are why I like to describe as throw away information then they ought to not bother, but if it is content rich and focused then it will be of great help in my research.

I just looked at my local dealer's website from the perspective that a new customer might have. I first see "shop by inventory or model for new vehicles". Now suppose a customer is impressed with the reputation of Subaru but does not really know the differences in the models so they would end up spending a huge amount of time going back and forth reviewing the specs instead of encountering a decision tree based on a few simple criteria a customer might have. This might include price, payload, passenger capacity, off road capabilities or mileage (they need not abandon the traditional site interface but offer an alternative pathway as well). They might add real reviews and videos (not just sales videos) to assist buyers get a feel for the vehicle models. They can really be a one stop shop instead of focusing on the more traditional model of getting the customer into the shop.

Does your dealer offer digital contracts? Is your dealer communication optimized for both desktop and mobile platforms?
 

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Most dealer‘s web sites are not very user friendly. They seem to have pop ups popping up constantly especially the live chat box. When I am looking at cars I really don’t want all that nonsense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Most dealer‘s web sites are not very user friendly. They seem to have pop ups popping up constantly especially the live chat box. When I am looking at cars I really don’t want all that nonsense.
Those dealers that do not make the transition will be left in the dust. They must meet the real needs and desires of the customer. Now they seem to serve simply as a placeholder as if someone just told them they are supposed to also have a website byond the brick and mortar, but they have little idea of its true role in the relationship with the customer.
 

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I agree with your statements above and would add that sales folks who are especially operating digitally need to grow their knowledge of each vehicle. As technical information continues to become readily accessible to most everyone, the sales staff needs to be prepared to meet those type of customers head on.
My dealer chain (multiple brands...most of them, actually) requires their sales people to be able to physically demonstrate all the vehicle's features in detail as part of the delivery process which undoubtedly helps them during the sales process, too. It's one advantage of having them salaried...it gives them the time slots for learning and mastering their product knowledge instead of worrying about how to pay for the balogina sandwich they want for lunch.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My dealer chain (multiple brands...most of them, actually) requires their sales people to be able to physically demonstrate all the vehicle's features in detail as part of the delivery process which undoubtedly helps them during the sales process, too. It's one advantage of having them salaried...it gives them the time slots for learning and mastering their product knowledge instead of worrying about how to pay for the balogina sandwich they want for lunch.
How about their website interface? Does it offer appropriate and easily accessible research for a prospective buyer who knows nothing about the brand's models?
 

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My dealership did not and does not have a super thorough website, other than the inventory, and some decent pictures. You can schedule service, appointments, etc online. however they couldn't get the finance page to work for us, we tried it five times ( including once at the dealership with a salesperson and the finance guy), and ended up filling out a paper copy at the dealership instead.
Although we did the price negotiation online, I still have to be able to go in and touch and feel and drive the car before I will purchase, same with our jaguar and same with any car we will ever buy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Dealerships ought to take a look at how many mortgage finance offices handle their on-line documents. T?hey provide a secure mailbox for digital documents for my review and digital signature. I can email them or talk with them as I review the documents or anytime prior to signing them. This type of software has been around for decades. On top of that feature, they need the research element. I can readily see many dealerships using a easy to find and duplicate template instead of something special for their marketing. They just do not seem to want to invest into the platform.
 

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How about their website interface? Does it offer appropriate and easily accessible research for a prospective buyer who knows nothing about the brand's models?
Of course not...they're still using the same software that so many dealerships use which was more about showing shiny objects to entice folks to call or come in. :)

There is a REAL opportunity here for web developers and dealers to transform how they present themselves to the world. They could even be working on it "right now" given that most of this kind of thing can and is done by remote resources. People stay employed and stay home. That's a win.
 
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I think there are a lot of missed opportunities, especially with the younger generation (I'm in my mid-late forties, so I'm kind of straddling generations that embrace vs. resist technology to a certain extent), to further develop online auto retail.
I do appreciate a well-executed, easy to use and navigate website. I don't think most car dealerships do this.
And even though every blue Ascent touring will basically be similar to every other blue Ascent touring, I still want to see actual pictures of the car online, not a representation or manufacturer supplied photo
Having a Dropbox for sensitive documents would be great. My accountant does this, and it works beautifully.
It will be interesting to see what happens after this is all over. If nothing else, I hope we all learn how to wash our hands properly, and that it brings people to their senses as to how they spend money. And as always, the businesses that will rise above the rest, are the ones that best adapt to the situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Of course not...they're still using the same software that so many dealerships use which was more about showing shiny objects to entice folks to call or come in. :)

There is a REAL opportunity here for web developers and dealers to transform how they present themselves to the world. They could even be working on it "right now" given that most of this kind of thing can and is done by remote resources. People stay employed and stay home. That's a win.
Exactly!
 

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Having a Dropbox for sensitive documents would be great. My accountant does this, and it works beautifully.
There are excellent services available for secure document signing and have been for sometime. Unlike Dropbox, they are designed-for-purpose. I've worked with a number of vendors who utilize them, including healthcare and insurance providers. (They are secure enough to meet HIPAA requirements) Dealerships could easily use these for most, if not all of the document signing required for vehicle sales (state regulations permitting) to streamline the process. My dealer already uses electronic signing for most sales documents in-store...no reason that could extend into the "virtual showroom".
 
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Tesla has the right idea. Better off to eliminate the independent dealers and deal directly with the Manufacturer. Can't see that happening in the US any time soon though. Auto dealers are a powerful lobby.
The buying process is easy but good luck once you need service or support after purchase. Owners are routinely waiting 3/6/9 months for basic parts and repairs. And good luck making warranty claims when the entity performing the repairs has no incentive to provide warranty service. Not to mention Tesla manages to lose money both on selling their cars and on servicing their cars. It's hard to see that as "the future" of the industry if nobody makes money at any step of the process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The buying process is easy but good luck once you need service or support after purchase. Owners are routinely waiting 3/6/9 months for basic parts and repairs. And good luck making warranty claims when the entity performing the repairs has no incentive to provide warranty service. Not to mention Tesla manages to lose money both on selling their cars and on servicing their cars. It's hard to see that as "the future" of the industry if nobody makes money at any step of the process.
But Musk is very good at taking taxpayers money and our legislators are very good at offering him more of our taxpayers' money.
 

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But Musk is very good at taking taxpayers money and our legislators are very good at offering him more of our taxpayers' money.
I thought about hitting the like button because I agree with the sentiment. I don’t like paying for other people’s cars with my tax dollars. We need a ”I agree with you and I don’t like it” button
 
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