Sooner or later all car retailers will need to realise that as the new car market shrinks, or at least finds its natural level, it will naturally have a direct impact on the sourcing of used cars down the line.
We are now seeing companies like webuyanycar.com or we willbuyyourcar.com having tremendous success in buying cars direct from the public, and with catchy adverts highlighting the way in which they can make the process easy for the consumer anyone hoping to compete on the same terms will have some catching up to do.
The reality is that most people who will use these companies for a valuation will nearly always need a replacement car but are either unaware of a dealer taking part exchange, suspicious of the valuation they may receive or, worse still, reeling from the apathy shown by the dealer in professionally valuing their existing car.
Sites like webuyanycar.com et al feed consumers the line that by selling your car to them you are in a better position to negotiate with a dealer on your next car because there is no car to trade in. The reality of this, of course, is that these cars need to be recycled back into the system and ironically are being bought by the very dealers who may have taken them in part exchange in the first place!
Now obviously sites like WBAC need to make a profit otherwise why else would they bother? So by them taking your car and selling it on to a dealer for a profit, who then sells it back to the retail market for another profit, is selling your car to these companies really going to give you the best price?
Maybe not but because they have exploited the fact that some franchised and independent dealers are clearly not delivering the service or getting the message across that they actually want to take your old car off your hands as well as put you in a new one. These dealers are missing out and allowing the buying sites to take over.
One of the reasons for this, in our opinion, is that new and used car dealers are often so focused on selling their cars, and sales people under such pressure to clinically follow a sales process to get the best chance of selling their product, that they are forgetting one fundamental aspect of the whole process; a major factor in the car buying decision process, from a customer’s perspective, is how much they will get for their existing car.
When the buyer knows how much their current car is worth they know what sort of budget they have to buy the next car.
We are sure some of the older ‘trade’ guys will remember, before internet adverts and big sales promotions, a salesperson had to work much harder to get customers to the showrooms which were never the salubrious surroundings they are today.
When things were very quiet the manager would send us out on the streets with our business cards which would be placed under the windscreen wipers of the cars you wanted to buy.
It wasn’t exactly rocket science, these cars were older versions of the cars you were selling. Printed on the back of the car were the simple words “we want to buy your car, please call me ASAP for the best price”.
This may seem quite basic and random but like any form of sales it’s a numbers game and the more customers you reach out to the more chance you have of selling cars.
Clearly in recent years this message has been lost somewhere, and as a result of this sales are being lost and those thousands of customers selling their cars to WBAC and the like are potentially being lost to the retail network of the product they are interested in.
Consumers under the illusion that “cash is king” and no trade-in equals a better deal will no doubt also feel confused when, let’s be honest, when you sell your existing car and buy your next one it can (and should) be as easy and painless as possible. Dropping your old one off and picking your new one on the same day has got to be the best option.
Unfortunately the growth of these buy your car sites tells us that new and used car retailers are not doing the job properly. They are not making it easier for customers and not making it viable for themselves by failing, or not bothering to give a proper value and missing out on the sale of one of their own cars.
It surely can only be a matter of time until a large dealer group will realise that they need to be buying these cars from the public direct themselves by setting up their own webuyyourcar type websites but with the added potential of selling them another car in the process.
Finally to check this out we got a few of the guys to pose as customers who wanted to sell their car and get a value, and not one of the dealers we rang were prepared to give us even a guide price unless we came to the showroom and the others are still waiting for a call back.
With time being precious and important to everyone we think it’s time for dealers to maybe be a bit more flexible and respond more readily to customers’ needs.
Failing that they risk losing out on more cars and more customers and in these trying economic times that probably ranks pretty high on the stupidity scale.