Car buying can be a stressful process involving several hours of time and many difficult decisions. The process may involve visits to a few dealers to find the right balance of price and customer service. Once the decision is made, a buyer may have to meet with several people to complete the process, adding to the time and stress.
For a woman shopping for a car, the process can be especially trying. She may be taking time off from work, or on her way to pick up children from school. Adding car shopping to her list of tasks can create apprehension and uncertainty.
Forward-thinking dealerships are exploring the concept of a streamlined sales process. So are some brands. Lexus, for example, is implementing a pilot program at select dealers to provide a new service, Lexus Plus. At the heart of this platform is a dedicated consultant for sales or service. This consultant is the single point of contact for the entire process, ensuring continuous communication throughout buying or servicing. This consultant has access to all of the information necessary to create a fast and efficient process.
Another feature of Lexus Plus is no-haggle pricing. Each sales or service consultant knows the exact price of a vehicle or a service and offers transparency in how the numbers are calculated. No-haggle pricing is a great way to remove the stress of negotiation and to ensure the buyer establishes trust in one person that will see the transaction through each stage – including financing. Frankly, it’s a relief for many.
Dealers already involved in this type of pricing may very well be on to something. Last year, Autotrader conducted a survey showing that 44% of car buyers did not want to negotiate the purchase of their vehicle. Other industry reports show that younger buyers are no longer interested in negotiating.
Jeff Bracken, Group Vice President and General Manager for Lexus, shared more about what’s driving Lexus Plus, “Women rank trust at the top of their list of reasons to buy from a particular sales consultant. Lexus Plus will appeal especially to this audience because relationships and transparency are the pillars of trust, and Lexus is already a strong brand in the luxury market to this powerful demographic. She knows who to contact with questions; this includes post purchase inquiries, too. “
The Dealership Advantage
Dealers who adopt the dedicated consultant, no-haggle or transparency pricing have several advantages over traditional sales methods:
- Consultants can be selected to carefully match a dealership’s demographic. If the demographic is over 50% women, then at least half of the consultants should also be women.
- Training is streamlined. When a consultant “owns” the start to finish process, training can be delivered in a cohesive way.
- Consultants provide a more personalized service, since they will get to know a customer in a more thorough way.
- Possible issues during the deal will be more easily spotted, because one person is monitoring the transaction from start to finish.
- A customer is likely to develop a more trusted relationship if there is only one consultant involved.
- Further, because the client has had a rewarding experience over and over, retention and CSI will be increased.
The Customer Advantage
Whether a customer is shopping for a new car or servicing an existing car, a dedicated consultant can very well be a welcomed change from the traditional car dealerships.
- A customer has a single point of contact for everything and can find answers to questions quickly.
- Streamlined communication and upfront pricing saves an enormous amount of time.
- Knowing exactly who to talk to increases a buyer’s confidence, and reduces the confusion of shopping and servicing a car.
One price or “no-haggle” pricing may not be right for everyone. Customers who place a high value on getting “the best price” may feel negotiating is necessary, since it’s the overwhelming industry paradigm. Here are some tips to overcome possible negative pushback:
- Be completely transparent with pricing. Show a customer how the price is calculated, from cost of the vehicle to additional costs of transport. Let the customer know your service labor rates.
- Explain that the dealership is in it for the long run, not just a quick sale. The pricing allows customers to get a fair deal as well as an impeccable customer experience.
- If a customer brings up another price that is lower, be prepared to compare what is really included in the deal. Average pricing is a more efficient way of operating a dealership, so those cost savings can be passed on to the customer. Consultants can explain the extra customer-friendly features that have been added to the dealership as a result of the savings.