We all remember the used car dealers of the past—lots of aging vehicles in the lot, large “For Sale” signs on the hoods, brightly colored flags blowing in the wind to get your attention, and some shifty looking men who wanted to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. It often wasn’t a business that you wanted to explore.
Those days are long gone. Today’s used car dealers are becoming savvier and learning to use new technology to their benefit in order to increase potential buyer interaction and their own bottom line. Their sales staffs have had to adapt to new technology and customers who have made themselves more knowledgeable than ever before. And if they want to sell their used car inventory to millennials, dealerships need to reach those potential customers with effective messaging on social media platforms.
One of the biggest problems faced by used car dealerships is getting a potential customer to notice them and actually visit in person. The days have passed where a family searching for a used car would drive around their neighborhood visiting a used car dealership to look at their inventory. Today, customers look online at a dealership’s used car stock, check out reviews, and narrow their choice to a few specific vehicles.
Another hazard: too many used vehicles for sale. The auto industry is in the middle of the largest used car surplus in history due to a glut of off-lease vehicles. Used car dealerships are competing against each other.
And all shoppers are busier and more harried than ever. They’ve spent their time shopping online and know exactly what they want. When they visit a used car dealership, they expect the sales representative to quickly find the car they want to purchase. Many dealerships are equipping their sales force with iPads to help them find the vehicle and look up its exact data. It’s all in an effort to make the transaction from online to in-person as seamless as possible.
Online Used Car Marketplaces
But what if we think about a newer business model for used car dealers in which the customer buys the used vehicle sight unseen. That’s the premise behind Beepi, a Silicon Valley startup that is tapping technology to challenge used-vehicle retailing’s status quo.
Beepi’s message to a potential buyer: we’re a trustworthy third party used car seller that has inspected your vehicle and provides a no-questions-asked, 10-day money-back guarantee. Its online marketplace for used cars promises that its vehicles will be inspected, reconditioned, financed and delivered with money-back guarantees. Some will even deliver your used vehicle right to your own driveway.
Beepi is one of a growing number of online used car companies that also include firms called Shift, Carvana, and Vroom.
Tap the Millennials
Used car dealers are also turning to the majority of people who use new technology to sell their used car inventory. Millennials—those born between 1980 and 1995—are using current incentive rates and deal-making opportunities to purchase for less than the sticker price.
A recent 2017 study from Cox Automotive entitled “2017 Car Buyer Journey Study,” found that millennials are most likely to shop for used vehicles. Millennials, especially those earning less than $75,000 a year, have found that the internet is a great way to shop for affordable cars, especially well-taken care of used vehicles. They do their homework online and take longer to make a decision because they have more options than ever before.
If a savvy dealership wants to engage with these new consumers, they need to be smart digital marketers. They need to hire web designers to create multiple online sites to show their vehicles in the best possible way, display their new or used cars with spectacular high-quality photos, ensure that the website is engaging with current prices and incentives, and provide millennials with the same online experience as how they’ll feel in person in the showroom.
One of the scariest parts of buying new or used cars, especially for novices or young people, is the financing. Sales reps have a habit of throwing lots of numbers around, the pace can seem too fast and complicated, and the potential buyer of a new or used vehicle might feel like giving up unless they have a degree in financial management. Buyers do not want last-minute surprises or feeling like they’ve been duped; streamlining the process and being transparent is key to a positive experience.
In the spring of 2017, Bank of America launched a new mobile app to help prospective new or used car customers shop and finance their vehicles. The app allows vehicle shoppers to seamlessly integrate their shopping and financing experience by selecting a new or used vehicle from participating dealerships, estimating their monthly payment, and applying for Bank of America financing on the specific model selected, prior to their dealer visit and all in one place.
This convenient auto shopping experience allows clients to search for new or used cars at local dealerships and get their Bank of America financing completed in one place and on their own time, whether on the go or from the comfort of their home.
It’s a simple three-step process, says the bank. The app helps the user to locate their preferred new or used vehicle, find the closest participating dealership and an available vehicle in that price range. Then, the buyer can begin to apply for a Bank of America loan through the tool, typically receiving a decision within seconds. Once approved, the user receives an official approval letter via email. Shoppers can then go to the dealer, take a test drive and finalize the sale and financing transaction with the dealer.
So no matter what type of used vehicle you’re seeking, new technology will help you find and finance the vehicle faster than ever before.