- Serra Toyota in Decatur, Alabama estimates that most of its car buyers are in and out of the dealership within two hours.
- The dealership says its customers get complete deal offers within 30 minutes of arriving at the showroom.
- Many of the most popular new cars are pre-discounted, which saves time for both buyer and seller.
DECATUR, Alabama — A part of the car sales process that is constantly under scrutiny — by both car buyers and car sellers — is the time it takes to complete the transaction. A slew of factors can affect how long it takes to conclude a car deal, but a common pain point for shoppers is how long it takes to get firm vehicle prices and payment information.
Serra Toyota in Decatur, Alabama is one dealership that has found ways to make the overall deal move more quickly, in part by speeding up the time it takes to get customers deal terms.
"Within 29 minutes from the time the customer arrives on our lot, we will have given him our best price, best payment and best trade-in offer," says Roberto Diaz, sales manager at Serra Toyota. "Who wants to sit around for three hours to get a number? Those days are over."
Diaz has been in the car business for more than a decade, and believes the biggest complaints car shoppers have revolve around the difficulty of getting a real price. He suggests that this is why car shoppers rely so heavily on the Internet for pricing information. Diaz also says that more than ever, car shoppers have a let's-get-down-to-business attitude.
"We know the customers want prices. Instead of only giving prices, we are going to give them all the terms up front and quickly," he says. "Trade-in amounts, payments, interest rates, everything. We keep the time and people involved in the deal to a minimum."
Diaz says the speedy program, which the dealership calls Serra Signature, is effective. He estimates most of the shoppers who do business with Serra spend less than two hours making a deal on their Toyota vehicles, from start to finish. This isn't good for just the car shopper, but also gives the dealership time to make more deals.
Planning is what makes dealership processes like this work. At Serra, many of the vehicles in inventory have been systematically discounted in advance, well before a car shopper even sets foot on the lot.
Diaz thinks a good car dealership should aim to make deals simple, and put customers at ease. "A lot of shoppers think deals have to take all day and involve a bunch of people," he says. "It doesn't have to be that way."
Edmunds says: Serra Toyota is an example of a dealership changing to stay in step with what its customers want.