Transparency in the car buying process

The car buying process has long been known to be stressful and filled with hidden costs. Many buyers feel like they are at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding pricing and finalizing the purchase. Fortunately, there is a way to make the car buying process more transparent. By understanding the advantages of transparency, car buyers can feel more confident in their purchase and know that they are getting the best price for their new car.

The key to any strong relationship is based on trust and being open with one another, this seems to be overlooked in the automotive industry. Car buyers don’t get as much transparency in their buying process as they do with other products because vehicles are a much more complicated product. As today’s car shoppers are more informed than ever, it is increasingly important for dealerships to focus on building trust with their customers. 

A recent survey by Marchex indicated that 91% of consumers say “trust” is important to them when deciding which dealership to purchase from. More importantly, trust and price are equally weighted in the dealership selection process, from the customers’ perspective. This highlights the need for dealers to create trusting relationships with their customers. Dealerships need to promote transparency in their activities in order to create a better customer experience. 

Customers should be able to trust that the dealership is being truthful about things like vehicle pricing, trade-in values, and so on. If there are any questions that come up during the sales process, the dealership should be able to provide clear and concise answers. Therefore, car dealerships adapt to evolving customer journeys and find new ways to establish more transparent relationships with them.

In an industry, where consumers are often skeptical and have negative preconceptions, being transparent builds trust and can help sell cars. If customers feel they can trust a dealership during their car-buying journey, the dealership will be more likely to stand out among the competition. Here are suggestions to improve transparency among dealerships and their potential customers.

Tailored customer relationships

Understanding that a personal connection with each customer is the foundation of trust is essential. Building trust requires time and effort, so dealers must respect the customer’s investment by being prepared with the correct information before connecting. Car dealers need to make sure that every aspect of customers’ experience is personalized and tailored just for them, from the moment they first visit dealers’ websites to the time they select a car. Advanced digital marketing tools can help dealers significantly with understanding the source customers came from, confirming their vehicle preferences, and offering details.

Sales agents also need to establish a sense of openness and accessibility when communicating with customers using the formats your customers prefer. Creating transparency through communication will be much easier if shoppers believe you’re approachable.

Transparent Financing and Insurance practices

According to BuyACar research, only one-third of people say that car financing options are “completely clear” to them, with many remaining confused or unaware of the different options available to them. It is important for shoppers to understand the nuances of their financing package, including fees and annual percentage rates. It will largely affect their final decision to purchase. This way, potential buyers can determine if they can afford the car and avoid any last-minute surprises or disappointments. Dealers and lenders should improve their tools to make it more explicit to get financing and make the car-buying experience less complicated.

A recent study from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) showed that the majority of consumers want more transparency from dealers, especially when it comes to pricing. Upfront pricing and financing options give customers a sense of control over the buying experience, which builds trust with the dealership and leads to higher vehicle sales and gross profits.

Document imperfection in used car photos

Most dealers are hesitant to show blemishes, especially online. Yet, by not showing these blemishes, or simply editing them out of their photos, dealers are missing the mark when it comes to transparency, which is a key element in the consumer-dealer relationship. A study from Cox Automotive found that 77% of consumers who shop online want to see flaws or damage on a vehicle. In addition, 74% of consumers who shop online want to see a vehicle’s interior and 73% want to see close-up photos of the vehicle. Indicating the vehicle’s flaws, especially for used or reconditioned vehicles, is so important. This will help build trust between the dealer and the consumer.

360-car photography plays a significant role here. There are a few applications that allow users to add hotspots and damage reports to their photos. Not only will the audience see the car from every angle, but they can also be given real insights into its condition to estimate the repair cost.

P.S.: This article has also been published in the Digital Dealer Magazine, UCD Magazine, and Texas IADA Magazine.

Sean Toussi

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