Working in the automotive industry, you probably feel like cars and trucks are in your DNA. And, in some ways, you might be right. People have been working on alternatives to pedestrian travel for a long time. As early as 1335, our automotive ancestors were building wind-propelled vehicles, which evolved over time to include steam and gunpowder propulsion. There is a fascinating tale of human automotive evolution, which becomes even more interesting when you realize that we are still living it. The next phase in this evolution may have less to do with the cars themselves and more to do with our process of purchasing them.
Evolving Technology Is Changing Consumer Behavior
Think for a moment about the way people used to buy cars. Consumers would visit a local car lot, look at the different options, and then figure out what they could afford. That process took a long time—up to three days in some cases. Now, some dealers have simplified the car-buying process so efficiently that it only takes three hours of a customer’s time. Unfortunately, three hours may still be too long for many consumers that demand immediacy.
Because technology has evolved, car dealers no longer drive the customer experience. What would happen if a potential buyer walked into your dealership and asked a question that you didn’t know how to answer? While you leave them to find an answer, that customer can search on her phone to see what other dealerships have to offer. Take too long, and she might even walk out and go to somebody else’s store.
Buying a car is a more consumer-driven experience than it used to be. Some dealers have evolved to keep pace with the changes in technology and others have not. Staying current with the best technologies is the best way to keep up with changing consumer behaviors.
Technology Is Driving New Trends in the Automotive Space
The evolution of technology has allowed dealerships to develop innovative processes that are fueling exciting trends in the automotive space. Trevor Gile, Operating Partner at Motorcars Cleveland, discovered that using technology to enable transparency in the service drive can change customers’ perceptions of the value of services. In fact, many consumers are willing to pay more money to have repairs done when they have the option to track those services.
A customer used to pull his cars into the service drive and leave it there for hours without knowing what exactly was happening to his vehicle. At Motorcars Cleveland, the vehicle moves along a conveyer belt as technicians work on it in full view of the customer. Video cameras even provide a view of what’s being done underneath the car. That transparency in the service drive has positively influenced consumers’ experience at Motorcars Cleveland.
As consumers and as business owners, we expect high tech in everything we do. Having the right technology in place will allow you to not only stay current with what consumers want, but also provide the best service possible as a dealership.
About the Author
Sharon Kitzman is the VP and General Manager at Dealertrack DMS.