Auto Industry – Time to Update Your Workflow

My family and I have been looking to purchase a new vehicle. The point of this post is really ask that folks in the auto industry to get their collective stuff together when it comes to purchasing an automobile. In this day and age, why is it so difficult? Why has there not been any real changes to the experience from a buyers standpoint (my vantage point)? Why are dealers doing business about the same?

The golden age of car buying (pre-internet) is only slightly different with the internet. The internet gives the buyer and seller an opportunity to be totally informed.

Workflow Improvements.. My humble opinion!

  • Research on vehicle cost and inventory at dealers – definitely saves time with calling or driving around the city. Problem is the only way to get realinformation is to give an email and phone number… Then watch as your phone starts ringing off the hook. Some folks give a partial phone number to deal with the email along. Process improvement – give complete and updated information on your website. You all know what we are asking for – give it complete the first time. If you have dealer incentives – list them after the price. Get to the bottom line (what you the dealer needs to get for a price).
  • We get to compare vehicles across brands and read reviews. This is helpful to me.. Comparing helps me get a much better idea of vehicle to vehicle differences from a far. Reviews are not always helpful, but they are a reference point. Process improvement – give me a purchase button.. I think I have a very strong intention that I want to purchase – why can’t I give you my strong intention?
  • With that purchase button – I can get the next level of details… Like if I had a trade in. Trade in Values – there are many websites that can get you a picture of the value of your trade… Problem is I have found no dealer that honors that price – even with dropping a level on the status of the trade. Process improvement – give the person what you would normally do with a sight unseen trade (telling them that the trade value is only a measuring stick – if the trade is in better shape – you could see an additional trade value).
  • Move onto financing. Not everyone can just walk in an write a check.. Financing should not be that difficult. Process improvementis keeping your financial details up to date. Pre-qualify the buyer on-line. This helps you to make sure that the deal can be finalized quickly. It also lets the buyer know if they are looking at too much car for their budget.
  • Lastly, the purchase. You have all the necessary information on the cost, your trades rough estimate on value, you know what you pre-qual for on the loan… This should help the buyer understand almost everything to make a decision. Problemtoday is that a game seems to be played (or at least that is what it seems to be like).  The dealer has not wasted any one’s time. They have a strong interested buyer that is pre-qual and well armed with what is going on. Process improvement – set up a scheduling system with the purchase – so, that one person gets to work with the customer. Test drive… Okay, let’s get it done. Close on the trade.. Close on the loan or cash.. Everyone should be happy.

I think the process all falls apart today at the time of purchase. Buyers want to get their best deal. Sellers what to get their best deal. The win/win is not always in the picture. Look at today’s purchase and if you have done as many as I have – over 30 years – it goes like this:

  • Seller brings you into the office to get information.. All of that would be electronic with the improvements.
  • Seller assess the trade in. That would be the same as it is today. But, the buyer has what he hopes is the lowest number. He will be armed with the value from the websites. And then it is just agree on what the value is.
  • Seller starts off with the price of the vehicle you want to purchase, the doc fees, dealer extras and taxes.. Plugs in your trade value. Shows what the over cost is going to be. With the improvements – all of the “hidden fees” would be public (doc fees, taxes and dealer extras). The only change would be the updated trade value.
  • Buyer reviews the data and then the negotiations begin. Seller asks you for what you think and the give and take happens. This could go on for 3 trips.. the last one, is usually some manager that you have not worked with that comes out to “close” the deal. With the new process – that goes away.
  • Buyer purchases.. And then goes through the loan, documentation process and pays… The new process – all information is ready to go – and if the backend is set up correctly – not much else is needed. Just print and sign.. Done.

We all know that someday purchasing a vehicle will get easier to do. The dealers that see how to really make changes to the buyer experience – will get the bulk of the business. They may not make as much per transaction – but they definitely will have more transactions and less overhead – hence making more money!

Auto industry, please set into the on-line buying world. What you have today – is a failed attempt at it.