If you haven’t embraced the digital frontier, you’ve been living in a dream world. Welcome to the real world. The general buying experience is not the same as it was 10, five, or even two years ago, and it never will be. This translates to the car buying experience as well.
Technology has allowed consumers to dive deeper into researching everything about cars and manufacturers. In some cases, consumers know more than car salespeople before they walk onto the dealership lot. That’s a reality.
So who is the new generation of buyers that are changing the way products, services, and vehicles are purchased? Enter the millennials. They are defined as people born in the early 1980s to late 1990s, and they grew up using the Internet. The car buying experience has evolved dramatically because of millennials and is only going to get more complicated or simpler depending on what steps your dealership takes.
How do we treat the millennial market? There are quick ways and more in-depth ways that will help your dealership in the long run. Let’s start with the quick ways, and then I’ll go a little deeper.
Have all the information about the car online
Millennials are known for scouring the Internet for information to help narrow down their choices. About 95% of millennials said they went online during at least some part of the buying experience. Websites like Wikipedia, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, TrueCar, and Carfax, as well as public forums, are single-handedly changing the way millennials, and everyone else for that matter, purchase vehicles.
Make sure you are using these third-party endorsements with your inventory. Millennials are looking for them. Think about your purchasing experience at Amazon.com or Zappos.com. As you review items for purchase, you will see real-time quotes from previous purchasers that millennials can relate to.
Did you know that 70% of the buying process is already completed before the customer engages with a salesperson? This is the result of the mobile revolution. According to Edmunds.com, 100% of smart phone owners surveyed said they used their device to perform some sort of car shopping.
Being more transparent on your prices, features, and advertising will demonstrate to your customers that they are getting the best deal on the market at your dealership. This is important because, to millennials, another dealership is only one click away.
Make everything real time
Make sure all new and used inventory on your website is updated daily. According to a recent study conducted by MTV, 94% of millennials rely on online research and reviews to sway their buying decisions and which business they will visit.
Social media platforms like Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook have made it imperative for your dealership to regularly monitor and engage any positive or negative reviews posted to these platforms. Stay active on these platforms and use reviews to improve your dealership in real time.
The following are in-depth strategies that may take more time to implement.
Speed up the car buying process
Millennials have an “I want it now” mentality and don’t want their time wasted sitting in the sales and finance departments for hours negotiating and signing paperwork. It’s important to find new and interesting ways to speed up this process.
For example, tech company DocuSign established an innovative platform for companies to send customers digital documents and contracts to fill out and sign. Imagine how beneficial this could be for the automotive industry? Introducing the digital dealership: A new era of car buying molded specifically for millennials.
Customers go to your website, buy their car online at your displayed price, receive and sign the paperwork online, and then visit the dealership to pick up their vehicle. This eliminates the high-pressure situations millennials want to avoid, making the dealership a more friendly experience.
Create a culture worth visiting
Millennials want to be part of a community. They don’t want to feel pressured or trapped when purchasing a vehicle. According to a recent survey by AutoTrader.com, 56% of millennials said they were more likely to go out of their way to avoid interacting with salespeople.
What’s the solution? Be in sync with your OEM’s messaging and create a more relationship-driven model of customer service. Build a culture and environment that mirrors your OEM’s brand message, because that’s what millennials expect.
There is no turning back to the way car buying used to be. It’s time to move forward and establish effective strategies geared specifically to this new generation of car buyers. They are treatable, but we have to monitor, learn, and adapt to their specific wants and needs.
Matthew Redden is CMSO at DealerSocket. He drives sales through a unified approach that incorporates marketing, sales, and customer support. Over the past 18 years, Matt has built his career around strategic marketing and driving sales in multiple markets through an innovative and focused approach.