Anyone who has purchased a vehicle knows that the process can be extremely stressful. Performing research on a variety of cars, trucks and SUV’s across multiple brands, calculating costs, weighing benefits and features, and selecting a dealership to go to is hard enough. Then you have to deal with sales representative following you around the lot asking you probing questions before you even get to look at paperwork, which can take hours.
Lastly comes haggling over price which can be as painful as it is uncomfortable. Chances are that just thinking about this process has given you a headache. However, there are currently steps being taken by major auto-dealers to relieve you of the stress and the time involved in purchasing a vehicle.
Saving Time With SmartChoice Express
Early in 2014, America’s leading auto-retailer, AutoNation, announced that it would be releasing an automated sales system called SmartChoice Express for the purposes of decreasing the time and stress involved in the vehicle-purchasing process. With a $100 million investment over 3 years, this program is reaching its final stages before nation-wide implementation.
Effectively, the goal of this system is to allow the average customer to conduct all matters related to vehicle purchase – research, financing, purchase and trade-ins – online. Ideally, this system will transform AutoNation websites into both a sales-oriented site as well as fulfill their current informational role. In other words, AutoNation is attempting to become the Amazon of the American automotive world.
It is clear that automotive sales are slightly different from many objects found on Amazon in that they cost much more and generally require a great deal of research (including a test-drive) before most customers are comfortable with finalizing a purchase. However, consider this:
The goal of SmartChoice Express is to allow a customer to complete a full transaction at a dealership within 30 minutes after performing the prep-work and financing from home.
Imagine being able to enjoy your brand new car within 30 minutes of driving onto the lot of your nearest dealership. That is no mean feat.
Currently, many large-scale auto dealers utilize third-party organizations such as truecar.com or edmunds.com to generate leads for them. These leads are typically priced anywhere from $300 to $600 per lead, which the dealership typically adds to the price of the vehicle. At the end of the day, you are not only being inconvenienced in terms of time, but you are paying the dealership for your business.
This online system allows customers to finance and purchase a car entirely online, including paperwork. This will also allow dealerships to walk away from third-party lead providers and create their own leads, thereby permitting a reduction in operating costs which should translate to lower prices for customers.
The automotive retailer will also be reducing or eliminating the ability to haggle on the pricing of new vehicles by producing a baseline for what similar vehicles are selling for on the market. This keeps vehicle pricing competitive, and does not require timely back and forths over cost which can take hours to complete. Once a sale is completed, a representative will contact you regarding your purchase during which time you can attempt to negotiate a better price, should you so choose.
Trade-ins and Financing
The SmartChoice Express system will soon be fitted to take care of financing and trade-ins, which are generally agreed to be the most time-consuming aspects of any visit to a dealership. SmartChoice Express will have the ability to provide customers with credit checks and trades online instead of at the store, allowing customers to take part in the sales process from the comfort of their own home.
In effect, you are handling the longest aspects of the sales process – the negotiations, the financing and trade-in discussions – online. It is suggested that these deals will take less than 30 minutes to be processed at any AutoNation dealership once SmartChoice is in full effect.
The Final Word
To be completely fair, there will still be time involved in the purchase process of any vehicle. Chances are that you want to see and operate the vehicle during a test drive before you make a large purchase. That being said, the standard amount of time the average American spends on the purchase of a new vehicle is approximately 25 hours from start to finish – 19 hours of research and establishing financials with 6 hours spent at the dealership across 3 visits. The actual purchase process of a sale takes about 2 hours.
With the SmartChoice Express system in place, that time could be reduced by as much as 8 hours – 3 hours for being able to research all vehicles on the same centralized website, and 5 hours saved at the dealership for test-driving and paperwork purposes. Having extra time in your home is definitely worth giving this new system a try, and the numbers back up the fact that you will save as much as 33% of your time spent purchasing a car by doing so.