The Kinder, Gentler Car Dealer Of Today
For decades, car dealers have been viewed through a negative lens in the eyes of retail customers. They are often viewed as deceptive and always on the hunt for people to rip off. The combination of the Internet and a trend towards transparency has brought the modern car dealership into a realm of good business practices. It’s not as profitable as it once was, but being a car dealer today is more honorable than ever before. From clear pricing through sites like TrueCar to straight-forward automotive advertising, the most successful dealerships today have embraced the digital age and become beacons of integrity within their communities.
It’s not universal. Then again, what industry doesn’t have its share of foul players? The days of “high gross” and “bait and switch” are gone for the most part in the industry.
Much of this can be attributed to the growth of the internet, of course. Expensive and often outdated pricing guides of the 70s and 80s have been replaced by websites and apps that can tell consumers with extreme accuracy more than just what they should pay for a vehicle. In the case of new cars, the information is out there to tell consumers exactly what the dealership paid for them.
In the case of used cars, there is data about the vehicle’s history, what similar cars are selling for in the area, what it would go for at an auction and how much it should be worth as a trade-in.
It’s more than just a forced issue, however. Even without this data, the tendency has been shifting towards customer service more than high-pressure sales techniques. Again, this isn’t across the board, but it’s very prevalent. Many of the “old school” car dealers lost their way and even their business during the financial crunch a few years back. Today, car dealer are focused on things such as online reputation more than the good ol’ “CSI Score“.
There are still challenges. One of the biggest isn’t even the dealers’ fault. There exists a market for online leads that still plagues the industry. When people go to 3rd-party websites to find cars, they will often fill out a lead form when they find a vehicle they like. In some cases, these leads go to the dealership with the right inventory item. In other cases, the leads are sold on an open market to other companies, including finance companies, lead-generating services, and even manufacturers. It’s possible to fill out a lead form and to get contacted by everyone other than the dealership that has the actual car itself.
One company is fighting this problem. LotLinx does not collect leads from these third party sites. Instead, they direct people from the third party sites to the actual inventory item on the dealer’s website itself. From there, any information that a consumer shares will only go to the dealership that has the car of interest. No lead selling. No data getting passed around. Through LotLinx, consumers are taken to the place that has the car they want.
The industry still has a long way to go. There are still deceptions and strange techniques out there that can trip consumers up while trying to buy a car. However, compared to what the industry was like a couple of decades ago, one thing is crystal clear. The consumers are much less likely to be taken advantage of by anyone at a dealership.
Source: BuzzFeed Auto