One of the biggest challenges facing the auto dealership industry today is that shoppers are approaching car buying differently than they did in the past. Consumers are more focused on features and the longevity of vehicles. In addition, they have more transportation options than they did in the past.  Ride-sharing services and urban populations that aren’t as interested in owning vehicles, which is contributing to changing buying trends.

Younger buying generations are also paying quite a bit of attention to cost, and when available, many opt for public transportation. Add to all this the fact that consumers are holding onto their vehicles longer, and it’s clear dealerships have some work cut out for them.


While these challenges may cause dealerships to pause and scratch their proverbial heads for a moment, they shouldn’t be alarmed.  This just means it’s more important than ever to earn shopper trust, be in-the-know regarding the latest vehicle features, and use cutting-edge technology to build customer relationships. You can win over today’s shoppers – you’ll just have to do your homework, and perhaps it will take a bit more effort.


It is certainly not the first time the auto industry has undergone major shifts in consumer demands. It just means businesses must figure out a new game plan, adjust and persevere. Changes in consumer perspective and shopping behavior offer an exciting opportunity for dealerships to position themselves as leaders in the industry. Step up and demonstrate to shoppers you are aware of their changing needs and show them you’re a trusted expert who is ready to adapt to their needs.


Benefits for Dealerships


Your dealership has the opportunity to communicate the benefits of vehicle quality and longevity to consumers. Check out some of the easiest things you can do to leverage changing shopper behaviors to benefit your dealership:


  • Share quality content regarding makes/models with consumers. You offer cars that stand the test of time, so be sure you offer easy-to-access content that describes vehicle features, offers top-notch comparisons, and shares customer reviews.  Be sure consumers can access information via your dealership’s website, eliminating the need to go to a third-party website.


  • Turn your shop into a service and repair destination. Whether customers are planning to hold onto their vehicles for a year or 10 years, you’ll gain credibility and trust by providing quality service that’s a necessity for every vehicle owner.  Be sure to communicate specials and deals to entice customers to return to you and ensure they keep their vehicles in tip-top shape for as long as possible.


  • Let consumers know you’re on their side. Present incentives and opportunities when the time is right for individual customers.  Instead of pushing sales to every customer at every visit, be sure to do your homework and find out which customers are in ideal positions to trade.  When you share information about available upgrades that could potentially save them money, you’ll build trust and keep your customers coming back.  Look to powerful platforms like AutoAlert’s AlertMiner to help you pinpoint specific opportunities that are already in your database.


  • Involve customers in your platform. Ask your customers for their opinions, interacting with them online, and paying attention to the things that drive them and inspire them in the marketplace. By building relationships with your customers, you’ll be better able to respond quickly and efficiently as a dealership and provide exactly what they’re looking for.


  • Be the dealership that meets shopper needs. Are shoppers looking for service centers with longer hours? Are they in the market for lunch-hour oil changes?  When you find out what shoppers are looking for, you’ll be a step ahead of the competition, and you can provide what’s missing in the market.


While it’s true consumers are driving a changing marketplace, it doesn’t mean your dealership is less visible to shoppers. Instead, it’s more important than ever for you to reach out and create positive reasons for customers to stay connected.  By building shopper trust, you’ll build relationships that lead to loyal customers.