Car-Buying Apps

How Car-Buying Apps Are Affecting Customer Buying Behavior at the Dealership

Today’s Car Buyer is More Informed Than Ever

In a previous post, we talked about the rise of social media and how it affects consumers choices when selecting a dealership for new car purchases or service

Well, there are some other digital tools franchise auto dealers need to be aware of: car-buying apps.

These apps (such as the ones offered by CarMax, Kelly Blue Book, Edmonds, AutoTrader, and others) help people research vehicles, read reviews, compare prices, and even calculate financing, all before they even set foot on a showroom floor.

There’s no doubt that today’s car buyer is more informed than ever. Sometimes, they know more about the car that they’re intending to buy than the salesperson at the dealership.

Even though many people are doing most —if not all — of the upfront work online or through apps, they still have to come to your dealership to actually touch, feel, drive, and buy the car. And, eventually, they’ll need service.

This is where you can turn things in your favor. By switching the focus from delivery to ongoing positive service experiences, you’ll bridge the gap between sales and service and give EVERY customer a reason to return to your dealership for service. Then, down the line, they’ll be more likely to return to your dealership for the NEXT vehicle purchase.

Here’s why.

It’s About Dealership Loyalty, Not Brand Loyalty

Car-buying apps are leading to people spending more time researching cars online than at the dealership, but they’re also making people less brand-loyal.

In the past, people were “Chevy Guys” or “Ford People” — they stuck to their auto brand of choice and only went to those dealerships. Now, many cars look pretty much the same; a compact is a compact, and an SUV is an SUV. You can look at a lot of older cars and right away know that it’s a ’64 GTO or a ’68 Charger. Today’s vehicle models aren’t drastically changing from year to year, and when all the cars in a particular class look pretty much the same, a lot of the brand loyalty is lost.

Not only that, today’s auto buyer is a payment shopper — they want the best deal, a good warranty, extra benefits, and quality service options. You, as a franchise auto dealer, can give them what they truly want. Let them use apps all they want to choose their brand, but once they’re in your showroom it’s time to sell them on you and the greet service you’re going to give them.

If you’re looking for a way to set yourself apart from your competition, Complimentary Maintenance is a great way to do so. Including the first 12-24 months of maintenance with the vehicle sale makes you stand out from competitors who don’t. And, who knows, it could be the competitive edge that drives customers to your dealership instead of your competitors. Not to mention theother great benefits for your dealership.

The Benefits of a Complimentary Maintenance Program

Contrary to popular belief, the goal of a maintenance-included strategy isn’t to makethe initial vehicle sale. The benefits of Complimentary Maintenance have more to do with guaranteed customer interaction with your dealership through service experiences.

Once customers purchase from your dealership, it’s crucialto customer loyalty that we bridge the gap between purchase and repurchase through service interactions; that isthe real goal of Complimentary Maintenance.It’s important that we don’t fumble service experiences and instead use the interactions to foster goodwill and promote positive interactions with our customers to earn loyalty. We all know that service loyal customers are nearly twice as likely to repurchase from ourdealership if they have great service experiences. And it’s difficult to sell the next vehicle if our customer is servicing somewhere other than our dealership.

By staying connected with customers during the first 12-24 months of vehicle ownership, customers are more likely to return for repurchase and refer friends, family members, and colleagues to do the same.

So the bottom line is this: even though car-buying apps are widely usedby consumers to narrow their search results to ONEsingle dealership to visit — with the help of Complimentary Maintenance, you can make your dealership stand out from the competition. You can be the ONEdealership they need to fulfill all their sales and service needs.

Once you’ve used maintenance as a means to drive them in, it’ll also give them a reason to drive back for service for the next 12-24 months so you can build loyal relationships that lead to the next vehicle purchase. Watch this short video to learn howComplimentary Maintenance leads to customer retention.