Most meaningful purchasing decisions that we make can be handled through extensive research on the internet, prior to pulling the trigger. The simplicity and convenience of shopping online are undeniable, however, in our industry that alone has proven to be inadequate. Yes, it is helpful to the dealership when the potential buyer walks in the door already knowing what they want, prepared with questions, and near ready to purchase. However, let’s not pretend that dealers are no longer necessary. It remains the job of the dealership and salespeople to build value.
Although there is beauty in convenience, there is one essential step in the selling process that absolutely cannot be eliminated; the test drive. The test drive creates value for the buyer. When you are clicking through pictures of the vehicle of your dreams online, can you smell the leather? How sensitive is the gas pedal? You cannot get a genuine feel for the car until you buckle up, turn the key, and shift to drive.
It is a controversial topic in the automotive industry, whether or not the test drive is necessary. To prove the point that it is in fact vital to giving yourself the best chance at making a sale, I went back and looked at data from nearly 200,000 sample customers from across the country in May of 2015. Of the nearly 200,000 people, 68,000 received no test drive. Out of the 68,000 that did not test drive a car, only 13% were scheduled appointments, and of the 13% a mere 7% of those appointments were actually written up or given a quote. At the end of the day, 2% of those appointments were actually closed deals. Put more simply, the absence of a test drive translates into a 2% closing ratio. The statistics also showed that adding a test drive and manager involvement into the process, you can increase the 2% closing ratio to a 46%. Even without 100% manager involvement, assuming that test drives are always given, the closing ratio stayed at a staggering 41% vs 2% without it. Let that sink in.
You can increase your closing ratio by 44% overnight with 2 simple steps:
- Test Drive every single time
- Have a manager involved 100% of the time
I present these statistics to you in hopes that you realize that test driving the car with a potential buyer must be non negotiable at your dealership. If you could give yourself a better chance at closing a deal, why wouldn’t you? Changing your dealership’s car buying process to cater to the 2% that will buy without a test drive means that you forget about the 98% of people that you could close with the simple addition of the test drive. Altering your business model in order to accommodate the 2% makes absolutely no sense.
It is your job as the dealer to make sure that they are getting the test drive. You have to ask yourself, what am I doing to ensure that the test drive is happening? Don’t skip the steps, the test drive is not old-fashioned, it was clearly implemented for one reason: it increases your sales.
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Clint Burns started in the car business at age 18 and his passion of the industry lead him to every sales and management position there is in a dealership. This experience allowed him to study sales process and create industry solutions.