Jan 25th, 2008 by RJ Menezes
Times have changed. The days of going into your friendly neighborhood dealership and sitting down with a smiling salesman are coming to a close. The way we shop for cars is not the way your dad shopped for cars.
The internet has vastly improved a consumers resources. Any average Joe is just a few clicks away from knowing invoice pricing, true cost, and what they should pay for cars. We live in a savvy generation, where it’s gonna take more than a cheesy ad in the Sunday paper to attract us. According to recent studies over 80% of shoppers start their car search right on the net, from the comfort of their own homes.
Dealers aren’t adapting too well either. According to data from the Cobalt study about 30% of internet leads will never receive an answer from dealers. That’s staggering knowing the thousands of dollars dealers spend every year on internet advertising.
But the fact is I’ve seen the problem from both sides. Having personally been a car salesman, and having dealt with internet leads, I know they can be extremely frustrating. As a salesman you depend on your presentation to make you money. If a customer walks into a dealer knowing what I paid for the car, then he/she can walk all over me and make me extremely frustrated. I’d work for 5+ hours with a customer just so he can say he’s not buying unless it’s $100 over invoice. That translates to a $50 “mini-deal” for me, or roughly $10 an hour for a job where you can easily make a six-figure yearly income. So my dealership stopped taking internet leads, they were not worth it to them. “Waste of time just to be haggled to nothing” my boss used to say. We even had some salesmen barely go over cars and act they they really don’t care anymore, knowing they were getting a mini-deal. Customers would get furious, but in a way they had a right to get mad. They provide a service, and should be rewarded as such. No reward, no service. See the problem here…
Well, you can’t stop progress. The internet is only growing stronger and stronger and it’s not stopping. Soon enough we might reach a point were dealers become obsolete. Who knows maybe your future car will be virtually test driven, at least then you can avoid the trip, and annoyance, of dealing with the dealer.