Cox Automotive Survey: Only 1 in 3 Are Satisfied with Dealerships as They Exist Today

By Desiree Homer 

In the automotive industry, there are always experts predicting trends and buying habits. There’s never a shortage of advice regarding marketing best practices and strategies to engage potential car buyers. However, these surveys often cut through the predictions and speculation to offer authentic feedback from the opinions of those who matter most – the customers.

Customers Want A Brand Experience Center, Not A Showroom

Seven out of ten consumers indicated they would prefer a “brand experience center” instead of a traditional showroom. As a dealership, enhancing your brand experience means creating an environment of thoughtful introduction to your brand. Develop a strategy that attracts, fosters enthusiasm and excitement, and informs customers of your dealership experience. Imagine you’re inviting them to celebrate their vehicle purchase from you.

A New Mainstream Consumer Persona

Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst with Autotrader, a Cox Automotive company, mentions in this report that “trailblazer” consumers are those who are most likely to embrace new and relevant technology. She also suggests that within the next five years or so, this tech-seeking consumer will be the new mainstream vehicle buyer. We’ve highlighted technology embracing best practices before, but these survey results can really drive home the point. Augmenting your vehicle purchasing experience in a way that leverages all the best technology the vehicles are offering and allowing those shoppers to use trend-worthy tech in their shopping process as well, will be the only way to attract them. Krebs says these “tech-loving trailblazers” will be setting the pace for other consumers.

Sixty-three Percent of Customers Would Change Brands to Get the Tech They Want

Michelle Krebs says that based on this survey, 63% of trailblazer customers are ready to switch vehicle brands based on technology and services. As a dealership, this number can help on two fronts. Use technology to retain the loyal customers you have and design a strategy that lures new buyers away from their brands to leverage this potential shift.

A Need for A Fun

Consumers have often dreaded the car shopping and buying process altogether. People want the process to be fun and celebrated. Krebs says across the various surveys they conduct, the test drive is one of the most favorited phases of the car buying process. It’s when a customer gets to know the vehicle, what it offers, and what technology assistance extras come along with it. This information is compelling to a franchise dealer looking to enhance the experience in the dealership. How much time and effort go into strategizing your best test-drive and vehicle introduction techniques, can be enough to bring more business.

Six in Ten Consumers Prefer Anyone but Salespeople

It’s not new. No one prefers to be sold anything. Car salespeople have always had a hard time combatting the reputations of the pushy sales forces of past decades. According to this Cox Automotive Survey, six in ten people would prefer help from staff members who are NOT sales related. Maybe changing your sales teams’ titles to ‘vehicle introduction members’ or ‘vehicle technology specialists’ can help relieve the sales pressure.

Eighty-Six Percent Want at Least One Online Step

The results of this study reinforce a consumer need to streamline time and efficiency with the process. Of the 86% who voted for at least one online interaction, 60% said they would use that extra time getting acclimated with the vehicle more. In other words, car buyers want to spend less time buying and more time playing in the cockpit of their perfect purchase. Dealers who can help streamline the less attractive aspects of the buying process with automation, and offer more time with celebrating vehicle introductions, will be earning more business.

In this study, 2000 consumers voiced their preferences in a variety of questions about the dealership experience. Now it’s your turn to transform and enhance your techniques to give those car buyers precisely what they want.