- Bulldog Kia does deals over the phone or via e-mail, and then delivers cars to shoppers as far as 300 miles away.
- The dealership appraises trades-in remotely by using pictures and vehicle history reports. It also asks owners to answer questions about overall vehicle condition.
- Many of the customers who take advantage of the delivery service were referred by shoppers who had used the service themselves.
ATHENS, Georgia — Traditionally, car sales have taken place on dealership property, and the majority of car deals are still completed on a showroom floor. Some dealerships, however, are offering alternatives to the traditional dealership sales process by encouraging car shoppers to do deals remotely.
Bulldog Kia offers to save its shoppers a trip to the dealership and will deliver a car and its paperwork to a car shopper's home. It will even evaluate a trade-in from afar and then go pick it up. These are services the dealership provides to customers who live as far as 300 miles away.
"We have sold cars completely online," says Steven White, general sales manager at Bulldog Kia. "We are here to do business however a customer wants us to, whether that's over the phone, online, or in person. If they don't want to come to us we can go to them."
White says the offsite delivery deals usually begin as e-mail conversations between sales personnel and car shoppers, but says that the shoppers conclude the deals over the phone. There is typically little negotiation needed because of the dealership's pre-set pricing, and because of the price guarantee his store offers car shoppers. If a shopper finds a lower price on the same model he has purchased, the dealership will refund the shopper the difference, a service that's growing in popularity in today's car market.
Customers who have trade-ins help the dealership complete the remote trade-in appraisal process by taking pictures of the car and sending them to the dealership, along with vehicle identification numbers and mileage. The customers also address vehicle condition questions that can't be answered by VINs and vehicle history reports, such as those offered by Carfax and AutoCheck. They'll be asked to report if the owner or passengers smoked in the car, for example.
By having this information upfront, dealership can feel confident enough to make a trade-in offer, even though the used-car team hasn't seen the vehicle firsthand. With both pricing and the trade-in out of the way, car shoppers can base their buying decision on convenience.
Offering a shopper the option of staying home and having a car delivered may sway a shopper who wouldn't otherwise consider a car dealership that's hundreds of miles away. After all, the notion of buying a product that they haven't seen in person is not completely foreign to people who regularly order online and have purchases delivered to their doorsteps.
Remote buying and delivery seems to be gaining traction with Georgia car buyers, as seen by a recent uptick in offsite deliveries done in the past six months, White says. He attributes the increase in deliveries to referrals that happy shoppers have made to friends and family.
"If we really impress a customer by coming to him, there is a good chance he will tell somebody else," he says.
Edmunds says: Once exclusive to luxury brands, at-home car delivery is a service that more car dealerships are offering — no matter what the vehicle's sticker price.