Why car dealers need to get better at relationships

by Carl Natale on August 23, 2010

The Internet really has changed how we buy a car. We’re much more savvy about the car and price when we walk onto a lot because of Internet research.
Car Dealership on Western Ave
Chris Brogan has a interesting story of why he bought a Camaro from Motorphilia, an Internet car dealer. He has a lot of thoughts about what’s wrong with car dealerships. It hinges mostly on their inability to embrace social media.

Local car dealerships find themselves in a potential bind. What used to be a sure thing is now far from it. Many car manufacturers had to thin out their dealership relationships over the last few years. Local print and TV media have been decimated making it harder to get a local dealership’s ads seen. Location and proximity help keep some customers at hand, but it clearly didn’t work for me. Will the rest of the Netflix generation feel that way, too?

via Buy a Car Off the Internet?.

Here are some excellent takeaways from Chris’ experience:

  • Aaron Smith has relationship with Chris. The deal was not done quickly.
  • Aaron pitched Chris after reading a blog post about his frustration with car dealerships. This is a beautiful example of listening for customers who have a problem you can solve.
  • If Motorphilla’s customers are scared to buy a car off the Internet with out test driving, they can go to a local dealer to actually kick the tires. Dealerships will then become showrooms for Motorphilla. I bet dealerships address the issue by charging consumers for test drives instead of following your advice.
  • Aaron didn’t do anything really different from what car salesmen always have done. It’s just that they do it within the borders of the dealership lot. These tools allow them to do it beyond the lot. That’s an opportunity not problem.
  • The sale is not the end of the relationship and problems. Chris confesses to having some questions about the car. This is an opportunity for Aaron to keep in touch. It also is an opportunity for Chris to buy Camaro related products (key chains, floor mats, sports wear, car parts).

This really isn’t about using the Internet to sell cars. It’s about developing relationships to sell cars.

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