How CRM Can Help Car Dealerships Improve the Car Buying Journey

By: on August 31, 2017

Car dealerships do anything—from emotional appeals to wacky slapstick—to draw people into their showroom.

Dealerships have to bring in buyers anyway they can

These marketing tactics can grab attention, but what drives buyers to the dealership? And what actually keeps buyers returning for a second or third vehicle?

We ran a survey of about 200 car buyers to find out their pain points and preferred process for finding a vehicle. The process highlighted the importance of a customer relationship management (CRM) solution for dealerships.

Help Buyers Find the Right Vehicle, Fast

Even those in the business have likely had bad experiences buying a car. The long waits, trouble tracking down the best car, negotiating for the best deal for hours—most dealerships know these can be common pain points for buyers.

Rory Foster, Communications Director of Bo Beuckman Quality Ford in Missouri, says these problems are often a result of lackluster training.

“It’s probably the biggest problem because they have gone to stores where they don’t have properly trained sales staff that knows how to use the software,” he says.

Car Buyers’ Most Frustrating Aspect of the Dealership Experience

In our survey, 56 percent of buyers say finding the right vehicle is the most frustrating aspect of the car buying process. Another 31 percent say haggling over the price is frustrating.

Software for dealerships, specifically CRM software, helps alleviate these tedious aspects of car buying, Foster says.

“It’s very easy: you can see inventory on our website and choose one, or you can come in and say you didn’t see what you wanted and we can locate one, in a matter of minutes,” he says.

Engage Buyers Online Months Before They Buy

In 2017, online research is the starting point when consumers buy just about anything. A recent eBay survey shows 63 percent of car buyers were likely to buy a car online in the future.

In his 18 years in the business, Foster says he’s definitely noticed this shift in the buyer’s journey.

Car Buyers’ Preferred Method to Begin Process

Foster says today up to 90 percent of his dealership’s customers start with online research. He is able to track visitors on the dealership website using software to better understand their journey.

The largest percentage of our respondents (48 percent) start with online research, while 39 percent start by calling the dealership. Only 10 percent start by going to the dealership physically.

Of those who do online research, 44 percent start as early as a few months before buying. Most buyers start looking online at least a month ahead.

Car Buyers’ Online Research Time Before Purchasing

Even if most shoppers prefer to browse online well ahead of buying, technology offers sales teams the opportunity to gather information about what website visitors are looking for.

“Having all of our inventory in our CRM allows us to present vehicles by email or by text or by phone,” Foster says.

Use a CRM to engage buyers early and send them offers on vehicles similar to what they’re browsing to help close a deal quickly.

Provide Speedy, Friendly Service That Keeps Buyers Coming Back

What exactly sells cars and brings people back to a dealership? Is it car features? The price? The experience?

“We’ve found price gets their attention, but the dealership experience is what sells the cars,” Foster says

It turns out the most important aspect of this experience is the speed at which buyers can find the best deal (29 percent), followed closely by friendly and responsive service (22 percent).

Dealership Experience Factors That Drive Repeat Purchases

The Internet gave car shoppers a wealth of information to peruse before making a decision, leading to pickier buyers, Foster says.

“When they get here to my store, the ‘oohs and ahhs’ are less frequent because they already know what the car does,” he says. “They’re coming in with more research behind them.”

CRM software helps dealerships provide the same breadth of information and comparison tools consumers find online, driving customer satisfaction and sales.

How Can I Find Out More About Dealership CRM Software?

If you need to attract more car shoppers and better serve their needs throughout the buyer journey, software can help.

But the software buyer journey can be exhausting in itself. Software advice can help:

  • Read through our Dealership CRM Buyer’s Guide, designed to explain the features, the best solutions for each type of dealership and market trends you should know.
  • Check out our list of the top CRMs that meet the needs of car dealerships, and compare them by price and ratings.
  • Give us a call at (844) 687-6771 for a free phone consultation with our team of software advisors to narrow your list to the best solutions for you.

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