NEW YORK — If auto dealers and manufacturers would give customers a better shopping experience, those customers would visit dealerships more often and even buy more vehicles, two new studies conclude.
“The Internet is clearly delivering on its promise of making things better for the customers,” DrivingSales CEO Jared Hamilton said. “Yet 56 percent of the buying population says they would buy more cars if they were happier with the process.”
DrivingSales, an online dealer training and social media site, authored one of the studies. Another study, by online shopping site Autotrader, also concludes that dealerships could attract more showroom traffic with shopper-friendly practices.
Hamilton projected U.S. new-vehicle sales could rise about 25 percent if customers were happy with the experience. Such an increase would have added about 4 million vehicles to last year’s U.S. total.
To improve the buying experience, cutting transaction time is key, said Sandy Schwartz, president of Cox Automotive, which owns Autotrader. At a forum here, Schwartz said car buyers want to be done in less than 90 minutes.
“It’s almost like a magical thing: When you get to 91 minutes, people get pissed off,” Schwartz told a crowd that included many prominent dealers. The Automotive Forum was sponsored by the National Automobile Dealers Association and J.D. Power and Associates.
Schwartz recommends that dealerships use technology to let customers complete credit applications and title work online before visiting the store.
Dealers and manufacturers also must work together to make the best use of the money spent on marketing and sales activities over a vehicle’s lifetime, concluded a third study, by consultant McKinsey & Co. That’s nearly $8,500 per vehicle today, according to McKinsey.
“There’s a lot of spending, but it’s not necessarily well organized and orchestrated, and therefore is another area of significant opportunities,” said Stefan Knupfer, McKinsey senior partner.