The internet has helped car dealers across all departments, but particularly in managing the relationships with their customers, according to online vehicle information and sales firm Autobytel.
Ten years ago, many car dealers were sceptical about the internet's impact on their traditional way of doing business. However, a recent survey carried out by online car information and buying website, Autobytel, among its dealers, reveals how retailers have since evolved to take advantage of the internet's unique communications and marketing abilities. According to Autobytel's President and CEO, Jeffrey Schwartz: "In just ten short years, dealers have gone from being notorious techno-phobes to one of the most technologically advanced retail segments in the world."
The majority of dealer respondents credit the internet with improvements across virtually every dealership department - from sales and customer retention, to finance and insurance and parts and service, to marketing and operations.
According to the survey, dealers agree that internet/online technologies have:
- lowered marketing/sales costs (66%),
- improved customer relations (84%),
- made it easier to manage customer information (92%),
- helped them retain more sales customers (78%),
- helped them retain more service customers (53%),
- increased the number of financing customers (65%), and
- helped them provide marketing/sales information more easily and quickly (96%).
Responses were similarly positive when dealers were asked to either agree or disagree with a series of assertions about the internet's impact on their dealerships. For example, 80% either "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that the internet has helped them sell more new vehicles, while 77% strongly agreed that it has helped them sell more used vehicles.
Managing customer relationships
Interestingly, the internet's most positive impact, according to dealers, may be in the area of CRM. Sixty-two percent "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that they have successfully used the internet to retain more customers who had previously purchased a new or used vehicle from their dealership. Eighty-eight percent "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that the internet has improved customer relationship management, overall, at their dealership.
Complete survey results can be obtained from Autobytel.