Despite all that has changed at dealerships since the days of the loud plaid jacket, trust is still lacking between customers and dealers. Some car buyers hold on to the stereotype that salesmen will squeeze every last possible penny out of them, while many dealers resent the way they're played against each other by customers who now have more access to pricing intelligence than ever before.
But in recent months Edmunds.com has been exploring ways to bridge the gap of trust that exists between car dealers and car buyers. A recent column by Edmunds.com Vice Chairman Jeremy Anwyl suggests that a key to building trust is to develop long term relationships with customers by effectively treating them as clients. And earlier this summer, Edmunds.com invited a dealer panel to discuss best customer service practices and ways to speed up the delivery process for the benefit of all involved.
One more solution toward bridging the gap of trust, however, is quite literally right before your very eyes: dealers can and should find more ways to direct customers to third-party automotive resources like Edmunds.com to answer some of their most basic questions. And it can be as simple as logging on together from a computer in your office or on a mobile device while sitting right in the front seat of the car you're trying to sell.
By encouraging customers to use Edmunds.com's free tools and unbiased information to guide them through the car shopping process, dealers can create a low-pressure mood and instantly build credibility. Car buyers, meanwhile, can gain more confidence in their purchase decisions by accessing relevant material from a neutral third-party source. And both the buyers and dealers have the peace of mind that they will be on a path toward a fair deal for both parties.
Here are some of the most popular tools and resources on Edmunds.com that can help your customers build more confidence as you work to put them in their next new car:
Loan and Lease Payments
Do your customers know what they can expect to pay each month for their new car? Edmunds.com's Simplified Pricing tool can give them a real quick sense with four simple inputs. Leasing customers can get similar information through Edmunds.com's Auto Lease Calculator. And for those customers who already know their monthly budget, Edmunds.com offers a tool to help them answer the question "How Much Car Can I Afford?".
Incentives and Rebates
Edmunds.com keeps an updated listing on local and national incentives and rebates. Of course, most — if not all — dealers are already aware of these deals, but by directing customers to this page, you can erase any doubts they might have that you're holding back on them. Some brands and models even offer targeted incentives exclusively to Edmunds.com users, which is just another reason to encourage shoppers to log on and check for themselves. And since many models offer either low APR or cash back, Edmunds.com has an incentive calculator to help shoppers decide which route will help them save the most money.
True Cost to Own®
Here's a likely situation: a shopper has his eyes set on an SUV on your lot, but it's $1,000 more than another brand's SUV down the street. Yes, you can work with him to get the price closer to your competitor. Or, you can access Edmunds.com's True Cost to Own® tool and compare how much the two vehicles will cost in the next five years when maintenance, gas and insurance are all factored in. Your car may well cost less over the long term!
Lists and Accolades
Prepare yourself by taking a few minutes to see if your cars are named in any of Edmunds.com's Best Cars Lists. After all, that tall guy who just walked into your showroom might be interested in checking out a car with more front passenger room than any other vehicle in its segment. And with consumer reviews weighing so heavily on purchase decisions these days, Edmunds.com's Consumers' Favorites offer a consensus on the best vehicles from car owners and buyers themselves.
Fuel economy is weighing more on buyers' minds than ever before, and is often a top point of comparison between vehicles. But sometimes the car's listed mpg might not resonate. Point your customers instead to Edmunds.com's Monthly Fuel Cost database, which shows how much a car owner should expect to pay each month at the pump for every model on the market. Meanwhile, if your customers are on the fence about trading in their gas guzzler for a new small car or hybrid, show them exactly how much they can expect to save with Edmunds.com's Gas Guzzler Calculator.
Edmunds.com is proud to work with members of its Premier Dealer Program to enhance the car buying experience for both dealers and consumers. Learn more by contacting an Edmunds.com dealer representative at 1-855-EDMUNDS or firstname.lastname@example.org.