The average car buyer visits an average of 1.2 dealerships, which is down from 1.6 in 2014, say news reports. In 2004, the average was a whopping five dealers.

Since the average car buyer now steps foot into one or two dealerships, if an interested buyer enters your dealership, there’s a good chance they already plan on buying from you.

The sales process now begins long before the customer even steps near the door of a dealership.

Here is what you can expect before they step through your door:

The Digital Dealership

Customers are exploring dealerships differently. Granted, they no longer visit the dealership as frequently in-person anymore. A lot of their shopping is turning to the digital side.

For example, they are, however, visiting 10 dealerships online as well as third party sites all to gather information, pricing, selection and more. Shopping has definitely shifted to the web.

While proximity is still an important factor, it’s no longer a major deciding factor like it have been previously. Your Chevrolet dealership may be five miles away, but they are visiting the websites of Chevy dealers 20 miles away as part of their research. And, if that dealership has the right vehicle at the right price, they’ll travel to get it.

Armed with Tech

Not only do potential car buyers spend 11 hours conducting research, they are arriving with a clear indication on what they want and how much they anticipate spending. With all the information at their fingertips, customers are coming into dealerships ready to test drive and buy.

Research

What does the eleven hours of research include?

  • Visiting dealership and OEM websites.
  • Finding cars listed for sale.
  • Using social media for dealership insight including company culture and community outreach, referrals from friends, etc.
  • Price comparisons.
  • Estimating their current car’s value.

Deciding Where and from Who to Buy

Wouldn’t it be nice to know if someone had the intention of purchasing a new vehicle? AdWords can steer a car buyer toward a dealership website. There are ways to take advantage of a lead before they begin their research. With lease customers, you know when they will need their next vehicle. Don’t wait to communicate. The more positive interactions a dealership has with their lease customer, the likelier they are to lease again. Surprisingly, less than half the time a dealer won’t connect with their lease customer prior to end of the lease.
 
The important thing is to already have an established relationship with your customers. It’s not enough to sell them a vehicle then contact them years later and ask if they want to buy a new car. Dealerships need to be proactive in communication and create a great customer experience from the very beginning.