CarMax led the way in no-haggle pricing for used autos, but the practice is still fairly uncommon among franchised dealerships.
More retailers, however, realize they need to adapt to the modern car buyer to maintain, or improve, sales levels. Some are ditching the traditional business model of negotiated pricing and commissions in favor of making the customer feel special and simplifying the purchase.
One of those making the switch is Priority 1 Automotive Group in Towson, Md., a nine-roof enterprise with about 4,000 new and pre-owned sales per year. Five months ago, it implemented a negotiation-free sales model at Mini of Baltimore County and Audi Owings Mills. Company officials say they are confident the system, paired with a new digital storefront and a laser focus on customer satisfaction, will boost results.
"We wanted to make the process more enjoyable and make it more about the customer getting exactly what they want," said Alison Cohen, vice president of the group.
She pushed for the move after hearing about, and visiting, Schomp BMW and Schomp Honda in suburban Denver, where she observed that customers seemed much more relaxed and enjoyed their experience. Cohen said Mini seemed like the ideal brand to test the concept and hopes to roll it out to the group's other rooftops once it's perfected.