A new arsenal of information technology tools is allowing dealers to welcome Internet-savvy used-car shoppers.
That hasn't always been the case.
Too often, dealers and their used-vehicle sales staffs have dreaded the Web-informed consumer.
Because they have focused their homework on a single vehicle or model, those shoppers can tell the dealers what their competitors are asking for similar vehicles. They know about quality ratings, warranties, and other information.
Dealer salespeople can be at a disadvantage, especially if it's a brand they are not used to selling. For example, a salesperson at a Chevrolet dealership probably knows all about Chevrolet or even General Motors used cars but may not know nearly as much about Chrysler or Honda vehicles.
That's where inventory management vendors such as vAuto, FirstLook, HomeNet Automotive, and DealerTrack come in. They continue to refine software products that put at the reach of a salesperson's fingertips the same or better information than what the Web-surfing buyer has--for as little as $500 per month per store.
VAuto's product lets a dealer pick a radius--say, 50 miles from the store--to see prices that competitors are asking for all similar makes and models of vehicles in their used-vehicle inventories. The dealer then can show the prospective customer that his car is priced at the lower end of the market range or defend a higher asking price than a competitor's on the basis of lower mileage or better condition.
Stephen Zehring, sales manager for the Saturn store at Ingersoll Automotive in Watertown, Conn., said those tools are crucial. He said he likes Web-savvy shoppers because they should be easier to sell to than the uninformed buyer of yesteryear. The new tools allow sales personnel to reassure the shopper that the dealership is offering a fair deal, he said. … Read more