Anyone who has ever gone shopping, or just browsing, knows that buying a car can be a high pressure ordeal. The moment you pull up into the car lot, you can see a group of very eager sale people arguing over who is (or who isn’t in some cases) going to approach you. When the head shark does break from the pack and offer their “assistance”, they don’t want to let you off the hook until you’re signing on the dotted line.
I say this not to be negative about the sales staff, they are only doing what they have been trained and taught to do. There’s also a lot more competition on a car lot than any other retail showroom — if they give you a minute to explore, someone else will step in and take over.
How many people react towards the experience is somewhat negative. They feel uncomfortable and are even avoiding the lots altogether and just look to the internet to fill in where the car salesperson used to be.
One dealership in Flint Michigan has setup a car lot for people who don’t appreciate the normal routine, but do want to see the vehicles first hand before making a decision.
This dealership has 22 vehicles with high-definition GoPro cameras mounted to the dash. Inside there’s salespeople who never ask questions like “what can I do to get you into your new car today?” — they are there to assist mainly with technology and answering customer questions.
Basically, the idea is that you are able to test drive your model without the experience with a salesperson — but you’ll still get the help you need. In a sense, it’s the best of both worlds.
Most likely because the concept is new, there’s a lot more people who are just looking and don’t leave with a new car. However, the seeds have been planted to change the way we shop for cars and the masterminds behind the hands-off dealership are still very confident that it will attract more sales in due time.
This is another reaction to the industries struggles with grabbing attention of the younger generation. The newer generations are less eager to buy a car than their grandparent’s were when they bought their first car, so it’s natural that the dealership experience needs an overhaul in response.
The end results of the non-threatening auto purchases seems to be effective in pulling people back into the retail environment as the group is reporting record test-drives.
Once the idea gets out, it will be interesting to see who the increased browsing will translate into sale.