An increasing number of the car dealers we speak with are growing concerned about the long term effect of a lack of quality, retail worthy, stock. Many are trying their level best to counter this, but there is still a big problem when dealing with customers who don’t want to necessarily buy another car but just want to dispose of their existing one for whatever reason.
Although dealers rely on their buyers to acquire saleable cars to stock their forecourts, the reality is that they are just not geared up to be able to simply buy cars from the ‘street’ i.e. private sellers. This inability to provide a sought after service is one of the reasons private sellers have been driven (pardon the pun) into the hands of the internet buying sites. There is also another very good reason this is happening.
The one overwhelming advantage the likes of WBAC have is that they have the technology and the will to give a seller a price up front without the need for a big “stewards enquiry”. Most customers, whether car dealers like it or not, want to start their search for buying a new car by finding out ‘roughly’ what their existing car is worth, thus giving themselves an opportunity to establish a budget for the next car. But guess what? If a customer rings most car dealership the last thing the person on the other end of the phone would do is give that info over the phone for fear of never laying eyes on the customer if the price is wrong. But with WBAC and the like the rules have changed and many buyers will use the facility they provide to get a “ball park” price before even going into a dealership. This could mean that WBAC have no chance of buying the car, however because these sites work on the basic golden rule of sales: “it’s a numbers game” means that they will get their fair share of customers based on the fact that many people just loose the will to live when trying to get some basic information around what their existing car might be worth from dealers especially the franchised variety.
We spoke to some professional used car buyers with many years’ experience who are buying cars from the likes of WBAC and WWBYC. Cars which, if the businesses they worked for were more flexible, they could simply buy direct from source and not have to buy through auction or in the trade and give a trade profit to the aforementioned.
More crucially perhaps, if they were better at it could give the customer who has conceivably supported the franchise they represent in the first place a better price as a result.
The issue is also that, because of strict processes and the need for control, allowing sales execs to give a “ball park figure” before the customer is in the showroom is just simply not permitted. However many customers who genuinely want to buy a car today will not do so until they have that info.
So what is the answer? Who blinks first? Well I know that if giving a ball park price every time meant the customer not coming in, I would think that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to make a profitable deal happen anyway. But if I did give a price and the customer still came in then at least I would know they were interested if they had made the effort. I could therefore afford to spend more time with them because they were serious and I may just get a sale out of it.
With a lack of stock around perhaps quality is better than quantity and by being this flexible there may be a chance of buying a car and not driving a customer away and giving all the profit to someone else.