Hello, fellow Tred-Setters (or Tred-Setters to be)! My name is Demetra Markopoulos, aka “CarsDiva.” I’m a “car girl” at heart, and an auto industry insider who always has an opinion. Today, I’m shedding light on consumer car shopping pain-points, and highlighting an alternative to the traditional car buying process.
Remember what it was like to get a new toy as a kid? Talk about excitement! You can’t wait to play with it and show off to your friends. A new car is no different for adults. You get the latest technology, a new driving experience, and let’s not forget the unequivocal new car smell. Let’s face it, it’s fun to sport a new ride. The whole purchase process? Well, that’s another story. Unfortunately, the dread and anxiety of buying a new car precedes the fun and excitement of driving a new car. What are the pitfalls of car shopping? There’s the research– deciding which car to buy (or lease), determining the price, choosing a dealership, and then of course, the time you spend at the dealership. Ask most people [who have purchased a car], and they will agree that some of the worst aspects of buying a car take place at the dealership.
The Tred team conducted several car shopper surveys last year to collect consumer feedback on recent car purchases. In looking at their results, I not only found consistencies that correlate with my own knowledge and research, but virtually all of the most negative shopper experiences fell within five categories: negotiating price, dealing with salespeople, going to or being at the dealership, the paperwork process, and the overall time it took to complete the purchase. In no particular order, let’s take a closer look…
1. Negotiating Price
Wheeling and dealing is synonymous with car shopping. Hands down the number one verbatim complaint was “negotiating price.” Delving deeper, I found that people responded with several variations of the same thing: “all the haggling”, “haggling with the sales manager,” and then of course, “dealer was rude when I asked to lower the price.” How do you know you’re getting a good deal? One person said that the worst part was “finding out that I had been ripped off for $1000– too late.” Well thanks to the Internet, you can find most of this info online on a dizzying number of consumer-focused sites that go as far as telling you the average price that people in your market are currently paying for a particular vehicle. Ok. I get it. You don’t want to haggle or negotiate. You want a straightforward sales person that will give you a fair price from the get-go. Me too.
2. Dealing with Salespeople
Plaid pants + greasy hair + gold chains + cigarette hanging out of mouth = stereotypical car salesman from the good old days. Good thing times have changed…sort of. However, that’s not to say that dealing with sales people wasn’t a major complaint in the survey. For example, one consumer complained of “listening to the salesman try to convince me how great the car was for me even after I had made my choice.” (Note “man” not woman. Just saying.) Another complaint was in general, “having to talk to salespeople,” and yet another said the worst part was “getting pressured from certain salespeople when test-driving cars.” But I think the best one I heard, well, maybe “worst” is the more appropriate term, was “having the supervisor talk down his product in trying to get us to buy an extended warranty.” Geez. Perhaps someone needed to hit their quota. If it’s really that bad, I don’t think I want it anymore, thank you very much.
3. Going to or Being at the Dealership
This one pretty much sums it all up. Going to or simply being at the dealership encompasses all of these complaints. Several consumers said the worst part of the car buying process was “walking into the dealership.” Another person expressed depression about “knowing that sooner or later I would have to do it again.” Buying a car should be fun, right? If you eliminate the stressful aspects, it very well can be.
4. Paperwork Process
There’s no eliminating the paperwork process. However, if you’re prepared and know what to expect, you can decrease the amount of time you spend on it. Yes, many of the complaints revolved around some aspect of “the paperwork” process. It is lengthy, and of course, you should always read all of the fine print. But if you determine the warranty and financing that you want ahead of time, and overall just know what to expect, then you won’t have to spend as much time asking questions to clarify what it is that you’re signing.
Ok, the overall time it takes to buy a car is, well, really long. Whether you’re test-driving, negotiating, going through the paperwork process, sitting at the dealership waiting for the car to be ready, or taking delivery of the car– it adds up to a substantial amount of time, which most of us don’t have to waste. As one consumer stated, “I wish it was more like buying toilet paper. Just walk in, grab it, pay and leave.” (I couldn’t have said it better myself.)
According to Google, more than 80% of buyers spend 18 hours online researching models and prices. According to Polk/AutoTrader.com, the average car shopper spends 12 hours shopping at dealerships offline. According to JD Power, the average car shopper spends 4 hours and 20 minutes at the dealership purchasing the car. Plus, despite an increase in online price transparency, JD Power found that consumers spent 12.5% more time negotiating in showrooms last year than they did in 2010. How is this even possible? We should be moving forward, not backward. I don’t know about you, but I can think of a lot of things I’d rather be doing than hanging out with car salesmen….
The general conclusion here, folks, is that most of the “issues” or unfavorable aspects of the car buying process happen at the dealership. (Ladies— ahem, you directly purchase more than 50% of all new cars, so this should especially speak to you.) Women in particular claim that they’re intimidated by the whole car buying process and dread walking into a dealership. They complain that they’re ignored or susceptible to being taken advantage of, and therefore, many feel the need to bring along a male counterpart. Good news– there is an alternative option.
At last, the million dollar question: how do you decrease the time you spend at a dealership, and get more access to cars so that you can make the right purchase decision? (Drum roll, please.) Tred. Is it the end-all solution? I’d like to think they’re headed in the right direction. Ok, maybe not quite there yet, but it does save you a substantial amount of time, and it helps to alleviate the pain points of the car buying process, most of which, we’ve determined, correlate with being at the dealership. To put it simply, what they do is bring the test drive to you. Interested in two different vehicles? No problem, they’ll bring them both! Heck, they’ll bring up to four cars to YOU to test drive — at your home, work, or wherever you so choose. And then their fabulous Tred Auto Experts will be there to answer your questions, sans the pressure. (They’re not paid on commission, because they’re there to help and inform you, not sell you.) They also provide you with a packet that includes pointers on what to research and know before you go into the dealership. Like what you drove? They’ll work with the dealer to arrange the best price for you– just leave the negotiating to them! Stress free, easy, at your convenience, time-saving. That way, when you do go to the dealership all you basically have to do is sign the papers, and of course, pick-up the car. (Sorry, they can’t do that for you….at least not yet.) Tred will take care of or help to alleviate all five categories above.
For the car salesmen and saleswomen out there, the benefit to you is that you too save time, allowing you to focus more efficiently on serious customers. And if your dealership is on the Tred train, it means that your management cares deeply about customer service, and your whole team will reap the rewards. At the end of the day, the consumer wants a positive experience, and the salesperson wants to sell more cars, right? It’s an all around win-win situation. Sounds pretty enticing to me.
Go ahead, try them out! I dare you. Be a Tred-setter. (no pun intended). This is exciting.