"Dealership of Tomorrow" panelists at the NADA Convention said Big dealerships are here to stay, and bridging the divide between clicks and bricks remains a challenge. Rita Case, vice chairman of Rick Case Automotive Group, says her Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based dealership group is building dealerships with more amenities, larger waiting areas, even restaurants. ItÛªs all about answering customer demands, she said.
Case also sees customers are ready to buy when they come in, so her dealership is adding more inventory to accommodate on-the-spot buyers.
Other panelists acknowledge that adding more and bigger service departments is a lasting trend and a revenue generator, but space then becomes the issue. Dealers worry about losing inventory space to service departments.
"Going forward, bridging the divide between the online world — clicks — and the physical dealership — bricks — is one of the most important challenges for retailers and manufacturers as they consider the dealership of the future," Amy Wilson writes in Automotive News.
"Bill Hartman, design director at architectural firm Gensler, which helps automakers develop dealership designs, called the online experience, 'the most important piece of evolution in the customer journey in the last 10 to 15 years. If the brick-and-mortar experience fails to achieve that level of positive customer experience, then the store has done a very big disservice, and the consumer goes elsewhere'."
"But that in-dealership experience shouldnÛªt be just about speed. Another panelist said: Not all customers want to come in and buy a car in 30 minutes. At his dealership, about 60% of customers come back. And thatÛªs even though some transactions can take 2–3 hours."
To help bridge the online shoppers with brick-and-mortar dealerships, Case said she emphasizes in-store services on her website. Benefits like free car washes, discount gasoline, doubled factory warranties are used to entice shoppers to come by her dealership and buy from her dealership.
Loyalty is a key factor facing dealerships. These panelists advise dealers to focus efforts on customer loyalty because it does still exist in today's online-shopping, best-price-searching market.
According to AudienceSCAN research, 19% of adults intend to purchase new cars/trucks in the next 12 months. Dealerships should take note of what makes these customers click. 57% of new car/truck shoppers are men. 27% of buyers are aged 25–34, and 21% are 35–44. 21% have children aged 5–9.
New car/truck shoppers are reading blogs, so try placing some ads there. 27% started online searches after reading blogs in the past year. They find these media to be the most helpful when shopping for vehicles: newspapers (18%), TV (15%), and magazines (7.3%).
AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.